by Lydia S '15

What It’s Like to Be a Senior Taking IB Exams

For BSGE’s class of 2015, IB exam season began April of 2014 with test prep running heavy for their Standard Level Chemistry and Biology exams in May. This stressful period has once again returned for seniors, with their first exam being English Literature Higher Level (HL) from May 4th to the 5th. These exams will then be followed by Mathematics Standard Level (SL) and Spanish SL exams from May 12th to 13th, History of the Americas HL on May 14, 15 and 18 and finally French SL exams on May 18th and 19th. For those unfamiliar with the International Baccalaureate curriculum – which is much harder than AP, just so you know – receiving an IB Diploma, the much coveted and respected diploma that helps students be internationally recognized by their education, is only attainable by completing 150 CAS hours, earning between a Grade A and Grade E on the Extended Essay and performing well enough on the IB exams to get a minimum of 24 points total, among other rules and requirements. These exams consist of three Higher Level subjects and three Standard Level subjects. For BSGE seniors’, their HLs include Visual Art, English Literature and History of the Americas. Their SLs are Mathematics, Science (Bio or Chem) and Language B (Spanish or French). For a HL exam, a more in-depth understanding of the material is required than a SL exam, and students cannot receive a 2 out of 7 in any of their HLs whereas only one grade 2 is permitted on an SL exam. Additionally, at least 12 points in total must be earned for HL exams whereas at least 9 points must be earned by SL exams. But overall, students are permitted no more than three grade 3s for either HL or SL exams. This is why it is generally suggested to earn at least a 4 on all of the exams. Senior Nick Anastasio ‘15 commented, “Although I am excited that the prospect of IB is coming to an end, the tests also signify a closing chapter in my life that I will never take for granted. I think that with additional help, success on all IB exams is achievable.” The Math Studies and Spanish SL test taker continued, “The Spanish IB exam is one that I am hesitant to take. I’m only nervous about it because it’s in a different language ultimately, so while all the exams are actually in English, you understand what’s going on. Whereas in Spanish, if you can’t understand the instructions or the argument of the article, then you’re pretty much lost.” He added, “My advice to entering the IB program is not do it unless you’re serious about it.” Another Senior Maisha Chowdhury ‘15 said, “Honestly I am very anxious about the upcoming IB exams. This is mainly due to the fact that there are some classes that I am prepared for, while there are others that I am not very prepared for.” Chowdhury explained, “I think that I am mostly prepared for the subjects that I have the most difficult time with,” which are English and History of the Americas for the graduating senior. For Ms. Chowdhury as well, Spanish is the subject she is the least confident for. She says, “The big problem is that I am not sure where to begin studying from.” Although BSGE seniors are already on their way to college in the Fall, their scores on IB exams are still important for them to earn credits in university. Often times if students score at least a 5 on their Higher Level exams, they can skip preliminary courses that most freshman are required to take, and go straight into what students actually want to study. However despite this motivation to score well on the exams, “the most important part of the IB program honestly is the knowledge you take from dealing with high workloads, deadlines and stress,” says Joleyne Herrera ‘15. She concludes, “That knowledge will stay with you forever.”


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