Welcome to the sixth and final post in our series on IB grade boundaries! Please read the first post for an introduction to IB grade boundaries. This post is on Group 6 subjects: Arts at SL and HL.
Little Geniuses have compiled data from May 2014 to Nov 2016 to analyse trends in grade boundaries for the wide range of group 6 subjects available.
This graph illustrates the average cut-off for a band 7 in a variety of commonly-taken arts subjects: Dance, Film, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Arts subjects tend to have slightly higher cut-off marks than group 3 (humanities) and group 4 (sciences) subjects.
The cut-off is highest for Visual Arts over the two-year period, at 84 for HL and SL. The cut-off is lowest for theatre at 74 for SL and 77 for HL. The average cut-off for group 6 (Arts) subjects is similar to the cut-off for group 1 (English) subjects and lower than that of the group 2 (languages subjects).
The graph above displays the trends in the band 7 cut-off mark over time. As in the previous posts, exam number 1 is May 2014 TZ1, exam 2 is May 2014 TZ2, exam 3 is Nov 2014 TZ0 etc. Note that there are three exams every calendar year - there is only one time zone in November. There don’t appear to any long term trends, however, it is interesting to note which subjects tend to fluctuate and which tend to be stable. For example, Design Technology SL remains at either 75 or 76 for the 3-year period, whereas chemistry HL fluctuates between 77 and 81 and Environmental Systems & Societies SL fluctuates but 68 and 76. So, if you’re wondering which band you would have achieved in any Environmental Systems & Societies past paper, be sure to check out the grade boundaries for that particular session! Physics SL also fluctuates between 65 and 72 over the 3-year period.
Studying an arts subject is not mandatory – instead you can choose an additional subject from groups 2-4, i.e. another second language, another humanities subject or another science. A few factors should go into making that decision: most importantly, your passions and skills. In addition, it can help to consider grade boundaries. Grade boundaries tend to indicate the complexity of the IA’s and syllabus content and the extent to which students compete intensely for top marks. So, a subject with a high cut-off mark suggests there is a limited amount of syllabus content, and that most students have been able to refine their approaches to assessment, driving the IB to increase the threshold for higher bands. A lower cut-off mark suggests that a subject has more content to cover or that most students haven’t mastered the assessment technique. So, when choosing your sixth subject, it’s worth considering the cut-off marks, as this will give you an insight into the nature of the subject’s content and assessment. Here are the IB subject groups, listed in decreasing order of cut-off mark: Languages, Arts, English, Mathematics, Sciences, Humanities. Note of course that there is significant variation between subjects within these groups.
Please contact Little Geniuses if you need help choosing the group 6 subject that is ideal for you.