Changes aim to bring more certainty for diploma students

By Fran Malloy, Sydney Morning Herald, October 16-17 2021, p. 134.
December 20, 2021
A new and improved ATAR-equivalence ranking and maths curriculum are timely moves for the IB.

The pandemic has disrupted education so the International Baccalaureate (IB) organisation has come up with two assessment scenarios to give more certainty.

This year’s diploma exams, as in 2020, will be offered in a dual route, with the organisation working with schools to determine the best assessment method based on local COVID-19 restrictions. 

In NSW, IB diploma exams are scheduled to begin in late October.  


Diploma graduates receive an overall score out of 45, which Australia’s Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) converts to a rank comparable to an ATAR, based on a national IB conversion table from the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC). 

However, students starting the two-year diploma this year – whose results will be ranked for 2023 university admissions – will face a new conversion schedule based on more detailed percentage marks for each subject.  By offering more conversion points and detailed information, the ACTAC conversion table seeks to give students a tertiary admissions rank that better reflects their results.


Maths is a compulsory diploma subject, with students choosing between standard or high-level study and enthusiasts able to choose more advanced maths as an ‘in-depth’ subject.

This year’s graduating diploma students will be the first to be assessed under the new maths curriculum, introduced in 2020- but that’s no big deal, says Antony Mayrhofer, director of learning services at St Paul’s Grammar School in Sydney and IB Schools Australasia Standing Committee member.

The IB has a seven-year curriculum review cycle for all six diploma subject groupings: sciences; mathematics; the arts; individuals and societies; language acquisition; and studies in language and literacy. “It’s through review which surveys teachers and academics around the world to uncover best practice in teaching, the ideal material that should be addressed by students and how learning material should be delivered to students,” he says.

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