International Baccalaureate Retakes


Frequently Asked Questions


If you’re looking for information about IB Remarks (as opposed to retaking exams), you can find more information here.

Although the below videos and FAQ are useful, with all the ongoing upheaval at the moment, we encourage you to proceed to this page which we are updating regularly, which explicitly addresses how doing retakes will work in the November 2021 exam session.

You might have found yourself in a position where you need to retake one or more subjects to attain the Diploma, to increase your university options, or to attain the final IB grade you feel you deserve. We understand that this can be a challenging and confusing time, and there certainly isn’t enough information out there for students. Take time to read on below and understand your options. The IB’s official documentation about the dual assessment route for November 2021 exams tells us that the exams will go ahead for some schools, and not for others, based on the ability of the schools or the country to administer exams safely. Note that if you find yourself on the non-exam route, you are able to defer without fees, or withdraw for a refund.

You may wish to see how what your grades will be awarded based on for the dual-assessment route, using our flowchart:

Retake FAQ Videos

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You can watch our IB Retakes FAQ as a video series here. In each video, Bella explains the key information you need to know as a student resitting in the IB.

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You can retake all six of your academic subjects, as well as the core components, or any combination of these, if your subject(s) are offered by your IB World School and they are happy for you to sit each subject or component through them. Candidates can Retake a subject up to three times, in three different exam sessions. If you took your exams in May originally, this gives you November of the same year, and May and November of the following year to sit the exams, although not all subjects are available in both May and November sessions. You should refer to the IBDP general regulations.

You can also revise or complete a new Extended Essay. A new Extended Essay can be registered in the same or in a different Diploma subject. However, if you are submitting a new or revised Extended Essay in the session six months after your EE was submitted (November, for May graduates), it must be registered in the same diploma subject.

The grade on your final diploma certificate for a particular reflects the highest score of all the three possible examination sessions for the subject, whether they were anticipated, diploma, or retakes. As such, if your retakes session mark is worse than your diploma (or anticipated) session mark, the highest mark from your earlier session(s) will be taken. From the IBO’s general regulations:

“If an IB Diploma Candidate retakes a subject to improve his/her results, the highest grade for the subject/core requirement will contribute to the award of the IB Diploma. Similarly, if an anticipated candidate retakes a subject in their IB Diploma session, the highest grade will normally contribute to the award of the IB Diploma.”

This depends on what your plans are for university and how quickly you think you can reach the level you want. For example, if you are going to university in Australia, South Africa or most countries in the Southern hemisphere, it would be best to do your retakes in November as the university academic year starts in February. This way you will not have to take a year and a half out before university, but rather just 6 months or so.

Also, please remember that the UCAS application deadline is January 15th, and the November session results are released on January 6th. Therefore, you will be able to apply to university with your concrete Retake results, further boosting your chances! (Although, you will need to weigh this against preparing your application correctly – we can help with that also through our Consulting team.) If the academic year for your universities of choice begins in September, then it all depends on considering your current academic level, aims for your Retake subject(s), and commitment to working hard over the coming months and deciding if you feel that you will be able to make enough progress before November to achieve the required grade(s). If you are not confident that the time between May and November will be enough, you should consider resitting in May of the following year.

For November retakes, candidates must be registered by 29th July if they want to pay the lower registration fees. All candidates that register after 29th July will have to pay higher registration fee, including a late subject fee for each subject or core element registered. The IB will not accept any candidate registrations after the final deadline of the 15th October.

The deadlines for May Retakes differ from the November Retake deadlines. If you are resitting in May, you need to register by 29th January to attract lower registration fees. The equivalent IB final deadlines for May Retake sessions is 15th April.

For students looking to Retake an exam six months after their last attempt (in November of the same year for May exam students, for instance), the final registration deadline is July 29th for November exams and January 29th for May exams- the later October/April deadline is not applicable to six-month retake students.

However, you should consider your school’s final internal deadline for registration will vary, and may be much earlier; remember, also, that schools, and therefore IB Coordinators, are often not accessible throughout the summer, and therefore aiming to finalise your plans with the school before the summer holidays begin is strongly recommended. As always, then, it is best not to leave it to the last minute!

Candidates must be registered through an IB World School – this is vital! The school you have previously sat your exams with is the most obvious choice, but if you have moved or found yourself otherwise unable to retake through your school, it is your responsibility to find a school who will let you Retake through them. Elite IB can provide all the tuition for your Retake, but we cannot submit your exams, register you as a candidate, or supervise your IA or other non-examined work. You should make speaking with your school’s IB Coordinator a matter of top priority if you decide to Retake.

If the school with which you have registered to sit retakes with will be following the non-exam route, you have two options:

  1. Defer the retake to the following session which offers examinations. The IBO has stated that it will allow deferments to later examination sessions at no extra cost, or will allow full refunds for withdrawals.
  2. Submit a new or substantially amended piece of coursework. As the non-exam route is based on a combination of coursework and predicted grades, the IBO will need a new IA in order to be externally graded and act as one of the bases.

See the following site for more information on dual exam/non-exam routes for 2021.

You do not have to retake all the assessed aspects of your retake subject; you may just sit the exams and not change your Internal Assessments. Alternatively, your school may offer you the option of revising or redoing your IAs. In this case, your teacher will be responsible for marking the new IA(s), and must be able to confirm that it is all your own work and that it is significantly different to any previously submitted work. In order to be able to guarantee this to the IBO, students re-submitting an IA or any other non-examination-based work must attend classes at the school they will sit the retake through, making some schools wary of taking on new students who wish to resubmit their IAs in addition to sitting the final exam papers.

If you are retaking in a non-exam route, you must submit a new (or substantially modified) IA in order to be assigned a new grade, as the IA is a crucial point of reference for the IB to assign a grade in the non-exam route. This IA will be marked by an external examiner, and used in combination with predicted grades from your school in order to assign you a grade for the retake. Without a new IA the IBO would have no basis for awarding you a significantly different grade from your previous session.

See the following site for more information on dual exam/non-exam routes for 2021.

Most universities do not officially state that they do not accept Retake candidates. However, in the cases of many top UK universities, the Retake marks must be significantly above the points required for an offer. We would also recommend having firm plans for the remainder of your time before your university studies would commence, linked to your course or industry. This shows that not only have you exceeded their entrance requirements, but that you are aware of how best to use your time.

You can find a list of all IB World Schools and the exam session(s) in which they participate on the IB website. Please note that not all schools offer retake sessions, and that schools are not obliged to take on Retake candidates. You should consult with your current Diploma Programme Coordinator.

If you're looking for information about remarks for the International Baccalaureate, you can find additional information in our Remarks FAQ here

Your examiners will not know that you are a Retake candidate, and so the re-marking process is the same for you as for any other student taking their exams that session. Do be aware that the deadline for re-marking exam papers is very soon after the release of results though! Also remember that your IB Coordinator must request the re-mark for you, and as you will have left your school, they may ask for you to pay the fee up-front.

With the dual exam/non-exam route in response to COVID-19 pandemic, there is a slight difference for re-marking of internal assessments, as all IAs will be marked externally. This means that while the EUR (“enquiry upon results”) process will follow the usual pattern, coursework will have been externally marked and will be covered by a category 1 EUR (review of marking), rather than category 3 (review of moderation).

See this site for more information on categories of EUR.

Your school can offer you a wide range of support, from merely helping with administration and marking, to offering a full scheme of study- the IB state that any World School must not “simply adopt the role of a “retake centre””, and so must support each candidate, whether they are sitting for the first, second, or third session in a subject. Whatever your circumstance, Elite IB Tutors are here to help. We have a wonderful team of experienced tutors who can provide guidance and support every step of the way.

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