IB exams: their cost and how to cover them


Laura Taylor

Sarah Griffith (12) and Sam Pearson (12) work on an independent assessment in their psychology class. Their work centers on whether or not imagery affects how well people recall words.

By Laura Taylor, Staff Writer

Registration for the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams recently passed, and the process came at a hefty cost. Only open to juniors and seniors, the registration cost for one exam is $120, which goes directly to the IB system. 

“There is a $10 program fee that we ask all students to pay to support the miscellaneous costs associated with the IB exam,” said Michael Savage, the Tigard High School IB coordinator. This additional fee goes to Tigard High School rather than the IB system. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch take the tests for free. 

On paper, taking one IB exam at Tigard high school costs $130, but there are some caveats. 

“[There is] a 50$ late fee per exam,” said Savage when asked about additional costs. “I believe there might be a $2 transaction fee if you pay through the Tigard High School website. You can also bring a check to the bookkeeper if you want to eliminate that.”

Despite the high cost, the exam provides beneficial opportunities for students planning to attend college. Senior Rachel Wu is an IB diploma candidate, or is, more commonly known, as ‘full IB.’ An IB diploma is one of the most prestigious diplomas a high school student can earn, and receiving one requires students to pass a minimum of six IB exams. 

Wu took one SL test her junior year and is taking three HL and two SL exams her senior year. Together, all of her exams cost $710.

 “I feel like if you’re looking at it in the moment, yes 710$ is a lot, but if you’re looking at it from the point of view of college it would be a couple thousand,” said Wu. “I think it is definitely worth it, especially if you already know your major and you’re going into college knowing what you’re gonna do. It’s really beneficial to get some classes out of the way.” 

So what exactly does the test include? IB exams are an optional addition to IB classes that contain two assessments: an external assessment being a more traditional pen and paper test and an internal assessment which is an independent research project. The exams occur each year in the spring and are held at the school. Covering various subjects, there are two types of exams: higher level (HL) and standard level (SL). The level of exam a student takes correlates to the level of the associated IB class. 

The exam is graded on a 7 point scale, with a 4 being the minimum passing score. The internal assessment typically gets graded by the course teacher and usually accounts for 20% of the overall grade, depending on the exam. The external assessment gets outsourced to an external reviewer outside of the school through the IB system. 

But before jumping into registering, Savage has some suggestions.

 “I would recommend going online, just to their website, google the name of the college plus IB credit, and see how much they offer and for what exams.” 

While University of Oregon and Oregon State offer credits for passing scores on SL and HL exams, many colleges around the country only give credit for HL, or in some cases none at all. 

“The other thing to consider is if the class is dual credit. You want to check if you’re going to earn any additional credits for those IB exams or if it’s just going to be the same credit. If it’s just going to be the same credit, there’s no real reason to take the IB exam.”