chapter taken from : https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Successful-International-Baccalaureate-Student/dp/0993418783
45. Appeals and Re-takes
Once you receive your examination results one of three things will happen. You may get the grades you were expecting and get what was required for your university. In this ideal scenario your IB adventure is over, and you can finally move on. Alternatively, you may receive your results and find out that you deservedly fell short in a subject or two, or perhaps failed something, and as a result your first choice university offer is no longer an option. The final scenario is that you receive your results and find that there are a few subjects where you know you should have done better. You are shocked because, as things stand, you cannot get into your first choice university or perhaps even your backup choice. There are several options that you may choose to take, outlined below:
I’ll be honest with you. When I first got my IB results in June, I did not get into my first university of choice. I got 42 points but fell short in HL Mathematics because I got a 6 instead of the required 7. My offer from Oxford was 40+ points overall, with 7’s in HL Mathematics and HL Economics. I wasn’t too surprised because I knew if there was one subject where I might fall short, it was definitely maths. Nonetheless, as things stood, I was not going to get a place at Oxford. I called up my coordinator and told him the situation. He highly recommended I appeal not just the mathematics grade, but also the 6’s I got in SL English and SL Physics. The logic behind this was that if I didn’t go up in maths, then at least maybe Oxford would reconsider if I got 43 or 44 points overall.
After several weeks I was informed that my English and Physics grades would not improve. This was very disappointing because I felt that my English exams went perfectly and I had superb IA marks for both English and Physics. I felt like there was no chance that my maths grade would increase because first of all I was predicted a 5, and second of all because maths is a rather objective – there are right and wrong answers with little room for grey areas and errors by examiners . Well, I turned out mistaken. I received the news from my coordinator that the grade had gone up to a 7, so I had met my offer and got a total of 43 points.
The point of that little story is that you should not just try to appeal when you feel like you could have done better. Even in exams where you are 80% sure you cannot improve, it may be worthwhile appealing if your university choice is on the line. Of course this will come at a financial cost, but I would say that if it is affecting your future then the financial cost is worth it. Besides, if the grade does change you will be refunded the full amount. Would I have appealed if I got my first choice of university and could see no direct benefits of a higher IB score? Probably not. I would recommend appealing only if it will affect your university decisions.
In the unlikely scenario that you completely mess up your IB exams there is always the option of re-taking them in November. I am not a big fan of this option for several reasons. First of all, re-taking in the winter exam session still means that you will miss out on a year of university unless you can find somewhere that starts after the winter break. If not, you would be better off repeating the year and sitting the examinations in May
Second of all, re-taking exams is only a good option if you genuinely think that things will change. There is no point in redoing the exams if your approach is the same. If something tragic happened that distracted you from performing at your level, then retakes can be a good opportunity for a second chance. If however, you failed to meet your targets because you did not prepare adequately, then chances are this will happen again during retakes.
For these reasons retakes should only be considered as the final resort. It goes without saying that if you missed a university offer by a small amount then you should first appeal your grades before you even consider retaking the exam.