Consideration #1: Is the subject available in the appropriate language for my school’s testing session?
This information can be found in the second section of the Diploma Program Assessment Procedures. When working with Diploma candidates, the coordinator must ensure that the subjects for which a candidate is wanting to register are offered for the examination in the second year. If a candidate completes year 1 of an HL course and begins year 2 only to find out that the exam for this subject is not offered in the testing session, this could automatically cancel that candidate’s opportunity to be a full candidate. Planning ahead when counseling potential year 1 candidates is a must.
Consideration #2: Do you have the correct combination and number of higher level (HL) and standard level (SL) courses?
Diploma candidates must take 3 HL courses but could take up to 4 HL courses. Diploma candidates must have a minimum of 2 SL courses if they are taking 4 HL courses or 3 SL courses if they are taking 3 HL courses. While this may seem clear, there are additional considerations that must be looked at before selecting subjects for your school.
One of these considerations is the fact that all HL courses must be taught over a two-year time span. In addition, language ab initio courses are also required to be taught over a two-year time period. This obviously requires advanced planning and commitment from the educators in a school.
A second consideration is the fact that your school may want to offer some SL courses that are one-year courses. Diploma candidates are allowed to take the exams for up to two SL courses in year one. Keep in mind that language ab initio cannot be tested in year one. This offers the diploma candidate the opportunity to complete one or two of their classes in year one and for many students alleviates some of the stress and anxiety with testing in six subjects at the end of the second year.
A third consideration to keep in mind when setting up your school and subjects in IBIS is the fact that Diploma Candidates must have one class from all 6 subject groups with the exception of group 6: the arts. Many students choosing to pursue a career in science want to take additional courses in group 4. Others who may be wanting to pursue a degree in humanities may choose to take an additional group 3 course. It is important as a coordinator that you get to know your students and their goals when considering what subjects to offer in your school.
Consideration #3: Should my school offer more than one course from each subject group?
While the answer to this question might seem obvious, there are several issues to consider. The obvious answer is YES! The more courses that your school can offer, the more flexibility diploma candidates have in planning their two-year course of study.
If your school is limited in the number of courses that they can logistically offer, considering what to offer from group one: language A and group two: language acquisition should be a discussion with your teachers that is undertaken. In group one: language A, your school could choose from Language A: Literature or Language A: Language and Literature. Making sure that your teachers understand the difference between the two courses is vital. As the coordinator, it is also important to consider what universities your students typically attend and look at what courses those accept for admission or for university credit. The course that your teachers may want to offer may not be in the best interest of a student’s university entrance. Be sure to communicate this in meeting with teachers, counselors, and administration.
The same scenario exists in group two: language acquisition. Language B courses are typically honored at universities more than the ab initio courses, but that does not mean that you would necessarily only want to offer level B in this subject group. Depending on the situation for your students and their previous language learning experiences, you may want to offer both levels. Keep in mind that language B is typically the appropriate offering for students who have had prior successful experiences in learning languages. Also remember that you might have students entering your school for year 1 that may have never had the opportunity to study language. In this case, language ab initio would be the appropriate placement. The ab initio courses are designed for the student who wishes to complete the diploma, but may not have had the opportunity to study languages or may struggle in the area of language learning. Language ab initio is not the appropriate placement for students who have previously studied languages and have been successful in their learning of the language.
In group 3: History, group 5: Math HL, and group 6: music SL there are options that must be considered before registering candidates for exams. Be sure to consult with the teacher regarding the options that they plan to teach in order to ensure that students are registered for the correct exam.
Consideration #4: When should I enter candidate registrations into IBIS?
For the May examination session registration typically opens on September 1st. For the November examination session, registration typically opens on March 1st (20 months before the written exams). The earlier that you as the coordinator register students for the examination session, the more time you allow yourself for checks and balances in the registration process.
Once you have registered your students for the exam session, be sure to print out the individual candidate report from IBIS. It is advisable to require students to check all of the information on this report and sign and date that the registration that has been entered is correct.