Retaking the exam

Reasons for retaking the exam

Hopefully this should not be necessary but there are always a few students each session who are retaking the Chemistry exam. If the student performed badly first time round (or simply did not get the grade they expected) then it is worth considering requesting an  Enquiry upon results (EUR) before deciding to retake. However this may not result in a higher grade or they may be other reasons for the retake. These could include:              

  • Adverse circumstances first time round such as illness or a death in the family.
  • Getting a Grade 1 or 2 in HL Chemistry which automatically means no Diploma is awarded.
  • Getting 23 overall points (or lower) and needing one (or more) extra marks in any subject to be awarded the Diploma.
  • Not making a university offer and needing to improve the Grade to make acceptance at university more likely (this is particularly true for those wishing to study medicine who do not achieve at least a Grade 6 – sometimes Grade 7- at HL).

This last point is particularly relevant in the U.K. or for those applying to British Universities. In Scandinavia students need all three sciences to study medicine so many Scandinavian students need to return to school to study the third science in their own national system. It is definitely worth considering whether it might be better to take the national examination of the student’s own country rather than re-sit the IB. Some of my British students who wanted to study medicine and who only got a 5 in Chemistry actually found it easier to take Chemistry A level and get an A or A* rather than gain a 6 or 7 at IB HL Chemistry.

Basic facts about retaking 

If the student does wish to retake then there are several facts worth bearing in mind. They can retake any number of subjects they wish and if they do gain a higher grade in one or more subjects then these new grades will replace the original grades they got and boost their overall Diploma total.  They can retake either at least one year later than their first Diploma session or six months after the first session. Slightly different rules (and fees) apply in each case and you should consult with your IB coordinator to clarify the exact conditions. If they do retake after only six months they must be registered by 29 July for the following November session (or by 29 January for the following May session) in order to attract the lowest registration fees.  They can only sit the examination at a recognised IB centre. This usually means at the school they originally attended but if they have returned to their own country or moved elsewhere they will need to register at an IB school near them.  

Chemistry students will have the same IA mark that they were awarded when they obtained their original grade. It will therefore only be the marks they gain on Papers 1, 2 and 3 that will be different. Students will generally find it hard to work on their own and improve their standard without some sort of outside help. If they can return to their own school or another school this can be enormously beneficial otherwise it might be worth encouraging them to pay for some sort of private tuition. One way in which you can help and encourage them is to provide them with copies of the syllabus, past papers and questions and other resources (such as student access to this website).

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