Assessment in the Diploma Programme


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. The most important aims of assessment in the Diploma Programme are that it should support curricular goals and encourage appropriate student learning. Both external and internal assessment are used in the Diploma Programme. IB examiners mark work produced for external assessment, while work produced for internal assessment is marked by teachers and externally moderated by the IB.
There are two types of assessment identified by the IB.
  • Formative assessment informs both teaching and learning. It is concerned with providing accurate and helpful feedback to students and teachers on the kind of learning taking place and the nature of students’ strengths and weaknesses in order to help develop students’ understanding and capabilities.
  • Summative assessment gives an overview of previous learning and is concerned with measuring student achievement.

The Diploma Programme primarily focuses on summative assessment designed to record student achievement at, or towards the end of, the course of study.
The approach to assessment used by the IB is criterion-related, not norm-referenced. This approach to assessment judges students’ work by their performance in relation to identified levels of attainment, and not in relation to the work of other students.

Methods of assessment

The IB uses several methods to assess work produced by students.

Assessment criteria

Assessment criteria are used when the assessment task is open-ended. Each criterion concentrates on a particular skill that students are expected to demonstrate. An assessment objective describes what students should be able to do and assessment criteria describe how well they should be able to do it. Using assessment criteria allows discrimination between different answers and encourages a variety of responses. Each criterion comprises a set of hierarchically ordered level descriptors. Each level descriptor is worth one or more marks. Each criterion is applied independently using a best-fit model. The maximum marks for each criterion may differ according to the criterion’s importance. The marks awarded for each criterion are added together to give the total mark for the piece of work.


Markbands are a comprehensive statement of expected performance against which responses are judged. They represent a single holistic criterion divided into level descriptors. Each level descriptor corresponds to a range of marks to differentiate student performance. A best-fit approach is used to ascertain which particular mark to use from the possible range for each level descriptor.


This generic term is used to describe analytic markschemes that are prepared for specific examination papers. Analytic markschemes are prepared for those examination questions that expect a particular kind of response and/or a given final answer from the students. They give detailed instructions to examiners on how to break down the total mark for each question for different parts of the response. A markscheme may include the content expected in the responses to questions or may be a series of marking notes giving guidance on how to apply criteria.

Assessment Outlines

These two tables show the weighting of the examination papers at the end of the course.

Standard Level

Higher Level


Assessment Objectives


The table below gives the assessment details for SL Paper 1. It is an example of what you will be asked show in
your answers and what the examiner will expect to see.



In all the assessments for the IB Diploma (Extended Essay, Papers, Internal Assessments/Historical Investigation) a similar
table is used to describe objectives and mark assessments.

IB History Internal Assessment

Click here to go to the pages about the IB History Internal Assessment