IB Psychology – Grade Boundaries New Curriculum (Feb 2019)

Travis Dixon Assessment (IB), Curriculum, IB Psychology 18 Comments

I've created these grade boundaries for IB Psychology to use with my own classes and thought I'd share them in case they're helpful for you.

Are you wondering what you need to do to get a 7 in IB Psychology?It’s a bit tough to say exactly because as of now (February 2019) we have not had any exams for this new curriculum. But as I’m marking my students’ mock exams I have also created the grade boundaries that I will use for IB Psychology until the IB releases theirs. 

The following tables are what I’m using to convert my own students marks in IB Psychology. As our marks are recorded in letter grades I’m including this category, too.

A note for teachers: Before using these for your own students, you might want to try giving a few test runs first. For example, add up what you think a 4 or a C should be worth using a Paper 1 essay rubric and see if it matches with my boundaries.

You can download these boundaries here…

The Letter Grades are what I use for my internal school marks as we work on the letter system (not the IB’s 1-7 system).

Scroll to the bottom to find the Official IB Psychology Grade Boundaries

Mr Dixon’s IB Psychology Grade Boundaries – New Curriculum*

Total Overall Score

% IB Score Letter Grade
70-100 7 A+
58-69 6 A
46-57 5 B / B+ (≥52)
34-45 4 C / C+ (≥40)
24-33 3 D / D+ (≥28)
16-23 2 F
8-15 1


0-7 0 F
These boundaries use the old curriculum boundaries as a guide.

Paper One


Score /49 IB Score Letter Grade
36-49 7 A+
30-35 6 A
25-29 5 B / B+ (≥28)
20-24 4 C / C+ (≥23)
14-19 3 D / D+ (≥17)
9-14 2 F
0-8 1 F
These boundaries use the old curriculum boundaries as a guide.

Paper Two Only for SL

Paper 2 Standard Level

/22 (SL)

IB Score

Letter Grade

18-22 7 A+
15-17 6 A
11-14 5 B / B+ (≥13)
8-10 4 C / C+ (10)
6-7 3 D / D+ (7)
4-5 2 F
0-4 1 F

Paper Two Only for HL

Paper 2 HL

Score /44 (HL)

IB Score

Letter Grade

34-44 7 A+
29-33 6 A
22-28 5 B / B+ (≥26)
15-21 4 C / C+ (≥19)
11-14 3 D / D+ (≥13)
9-10 2 F
0-7 1 F

Paper Three (HL Only)

While the above boundaries are using the old curriculum as a guide, I will point out that my Paper 3 boundaries are purely my own invention. This is because the nature of Paper 3 is now very different to how it was in the old curriculum. As of now, this is what I’d expect from my students. You will see the boundaries appear harder, but this is because I think Paper 3 is a lot easier than other papers (especially Question 1a-c).

Paper 3 (HL Only)

Score /24 (HL)

IB Score

Letter Grade

20-24 7 A+
17-19 6 A
14-16 5 B / B+ (17)
11-13 4 C / C+ (13-14)
8-10 3 D / D+ (10)
5-7 2 F
0-4 1 F

Internal Assessment

Internal Assessment
/22 (SL) IB Score Letter Grade
19-22 7 A+
17-18 6 A
13-16 5 B / B+ (≥15)
9-12 4 C / C+ (≥11)
5-8 3 D / D+ (≥7)
3-4 2 F
0-2 1 F

Have any questions or problems? Please leave a note in the comments.

IB Official Grade Boundaries: May 2019


Comments 18

  1. Dear Travis

    Do you use any modified grade boundaries for reporting internally for Term/Semester grades in Year 12?
    As the actual grade boundaries reflect student preparation for the complete syllabus our school is contemplating some modified versions.

    Please share your views and experience of the same.


    1. Post

      Hi Aradhana,
      That’s a great question and something that needs considering. I don’t change the grade boundaries, but what I change is the nature of the assessment tasks and a little bit I change how strictly I mark (especially in the critical thinking components).

      For example, in summative assessments in year one the students will write essays one a question but there will only be four possible questions (not >40 like in the real exam), so in this sense it’s much, much easier but the grade using these boundaries would still reflect their level of achievement (and their projected level of achievement if they keep working at that level).

      Hope this helps and makes sense

  2. Dear Travis,

    I am new to the IB curriculum and am still working my way around the assessment. I was reading the assessment document on the IB website and there is the concept of scaled scores. The scores which you have given in the tables, are not scaled right? When do we use the scaled marks?

    1. Post

      I think that’s just when they are combining the scores across the three scores to get a total mark. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  3. Dear Travis,
    I have a question regarding the assessment. When we consider each paper separately, we convert the score into a percentage before giving a grade out of 1-7 (say score is 11 out of 22 in paper B so percentage would be 11/22 X 25 i.e. 12.5. )We then calculate all the percentages for all the papers and refer to the table which is on the extreme right side to get a final grade out of 1-7 (0-100). What is the purpose of individual grades for each paper ( which use raw marks example- 22)? Are they being used somewhere in tabulation of final score?

  4. Post

    Hi Mona,

    When you say Paper B, do you mean Paper 2 or Section B of Paper 1. If the latter, it’s my understanding that these are not calculated individually but rather the raw scale of the essay (/22) is added to the raw scores of the SAQs ( /27) and that is what is scaled.

    I might not have understood your question properly, though. And I’m not an expert in the math behind final grade calculations. Frankly, I don’t concern myself with it too much.

  5. Dear Travis,
    I think I didn’t put my question clearly. I am new to IB assessment and was looking for some help in assessment.

    Say a student scores a total raw score of 40 out of 49 on paper 1 (SAQs and ERQ combined). Now one thing is that this is converted to a number grade (1-7) on the basis of this raw score. I am looking at table 2 in the image under SL section put up by you. So here, I simply give a number grade (1-7) on the basis of the raw score 40? That is my first question.

    Then the question on weighting. I am trying to understand the concept of weighting in IB assessment. The guide gives weighting to different papers (example- for SL-paper 1 it is is 50% of the total). This score of 40 is then converted into a percentage as follows- 40/49 multiplied by 50. Similarly, I get the percentage score for every paper (1,2 and IA). I then add them all and move to the 4th table given above (where grades are given 1-7 for percentage scores 0-100). Is that how we arrive at one composite score in Psychology SL?

    I am basically confused with how to use weightages and give a total number grade of 1-7 when we have an exam for paper 1, paper 2 and IA. What exactly do we do once we have the raw scores for each paper? I am finding it a bit difficult and it would be great if you could help.

  6. Post

    Hi Mona,

    Now I understand your question better.

    The answer to your first question, is yes. You simply give the number grade that corresponds to the raw score.

    When it comes to adding them all up to find the total score based on weighting, you need to use the “scaling factors” you see on the tables above.

    To use your example, let’s say a kid in SL gets 40/49 in Paper 1. You have to multiply 40 by the scaling factor (1.020409). This gives us their score /50% for Paper 1 (which in this case would be 40.8%). Let’s say the same kid got a 16/22 on their IA, we’d multiple 16 by the IA scaling factor (1.136364) and they’d get 18.2%/25% for the IA, then let’s say they also got 14/22 for Paper 2, that’d be 14*1.136364 again (because Paper 2 and IA are both /22 and 25% in SL, so scaling factor is the same), so 15.9%.
    Total those three together: 40.8+18.2+15.9 = 74.9/100, so an IB 7.

    I hope that makes sense now?

  7. That’s an excellent explanation. I am absolutely clear with the assessment now. I really appreciate the detailed explanation. It is very helpful for beginners like me in IB Psychology.

  8. Hi Travis,
    Could you clarify which boundaries are relevant for Internal Assessmsent? You posted two different ones and I am not certain which one to use in my marking.
    That would be very helpful, thank you!

    1. Post
  9. Dear Travis,
    The grade boundary to get a 7 in IB psychology seems to be much higher at my school (85+), I was wondering if it varies across schools or regions?

    1. Often internal grade boundaries are higher for a logical reason – they are based on assessments that only cover a small chunk of the course. It’s easier to get 85% on a unit test for one approach than it is to get the same score in Paper 1 which covers all three approaches. I also have higher grade boundaries for my own internal assessments for school because I tend to be a lenient marker.

  10. Hi Travis,
    I am teaching in my first year and am having students practice writing LAQ’s. If I am reading this correctly, a raw single LAQ score of 11 is converted to a 5, meaning a student could really neglect one criteria (Critical Thinking for instance) but still accumulate enough raw points in the others to achieve a fairly high mark. Understanding that the criteria rely on each other to a large extent (i.e. it’s hard to score well on the others if “Focus” and “Knowledge” aren’t in place), is the rubric still this forgiving?
    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    1. Post

      Honestly, Frank, there are so many variables involved (the question, the answer, the examiner), that I would not worry about trying to guess what an examiner might think. Take any two examiners marking the same essay and you could realistically expect a 0 to 4 point difference in marks awarded. I would, therefore, figure out your own expectations and mark accordingly. “Rule your own empire” is my advice. This probably isn’t what you wanted to hear, sorry, but It is my best advice.
      So I can’t speak for all examiners. But what I can say is that when I am marking, it would be technically possible for a student to score a 0 in one category and high on the others. I marked an essay today like this – the girl got a 5/6 for knowledge and understanding and a 0 for use of research as she cited no studies. the chances of the same happenng for critical thinking is less, though, because as you say there is a bit of overlap. Some people credit critical thinking for what I deem deeper understanding. Again – rule YOUR empire! 🙂

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