In my last workshop, a teacher commented

“One particular post on My IB raised an issue that has been on my mind a lot lately, the question of how to coach my students to get a seven – or near as possible to it – when no sevens ever seem to be awarded? Even sixes are rare, it seems.” 

Another teacher replied

“…no sevens ever seem to be awarded? Even sixes are rare – Okay, this is my first year doing the IB programme, so that is a little worrying…”

This was a Category 1 workshop for new teachers or teachers from new DP schools, so I jumped in with some facts to balance the discussion, but I can certainly appreciate the frustration of the teacher whose students do not get the marks expected/predicted.

Most of us, if not all of us, have been there.

On the other hand, the visual arts programme needs to have rigour in order to have credibility with the colleges and universities to which our students apply.

If 7s were easy they would obviously lose their value.

A grade 7 rewards exceptional achievement, reflecting extremely high achievement in all three components. It should not be easy to get a 7!

And, of course, it’s simply not true that ‘no sevens are awarded.’

In May 2018:

  • 4.17% of HL visual arts students achieved a 7
  • 15.83% a 6
  • 29.41% a 5
  • 28.73% a 4
  • 30.16% a 3 (etc)
  • The mean grade for HL was 4.48
  • Overall 4.55% of all Arts students achieved a 7
  • (From page 24 of the 2018 IBO Statistical Bulletin, available on My IB from DP Resources).


Less than 5% of students get a 7 … but I’m OK with that …

The IB certainly don’t give 7s away (on the other hand, for committed students its certainly possible to achieve 6s and 7s).

Last May, more than 20% of students achieved a 6 or a 7

The other side of this particular coin could be optimistic or ‘overly positive’ marking by teachers. If, objectively speaking, your student deserves a 5 but you are convinced that his/her work merits a 6 (or a 7) then yes, when the results are released you might be exasperated and jump on the “No sevens are awarded? Even sixes are rare” bandwagon – even though more than 20% of students actually achieve a 6 or a 7.

Rather than moaning, it might make more sense to remind yourself of the standards of the visual arts components.

See what kind of art is awarded top marks in the Process Portfolio, the Comparative Study and the Exhibition.

A set of marked work in all components is available on My IB as well as in visual arts workshops.

If you are still convinced that the examiner or moderator is wrong, ask your DP Coordinator to apply for an ‘Enquiry Upon Results’.

Image: p. 24 of the 2018 statistical bulletin.