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Is November's exams harder than May's Exams?

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Guest HayashiEsme

It's no secret that the IB comes up with different variants of the papers so that everyone gets a fair shot at a good grade. (Edit: sorry! Head's gone all fuzzy!)

But what I find bewildering is the whole thing about the IB in May is said to be easier than the November session. It's something that's been floating around my school for awhile, but I never had the chance to find out for myself.Now I'm not one to believe these kind of stuff, after all, the grade boundaries would shift accordingly, but this is something I experienced when I did the IGCSEs too. The May session is significantly easier than the November ones and it's ridiculous how obvious it is - the same question gets given half the marks it was worth in May! :/

On top of that, my school usually gets the hardest variant of the lot come IGCSE, which never helps, but we're usually pretty prepared so it's alright.

I guess I'm just a little worried with everything because, while being on IB Survival revealed that, most of the troubles people find with juggling the IB Diploma and everything else is exaggerated, was pretty darn liberating, I don't know if I can say the same for me because of how it seems to be almost notorious that the November sessions are harder for every standardised test my school ends up doing.

Could somebody shed some light on this topic? :)

Edited by HayashiEsme

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Sadly it is. Look up some past papers to see for yourself. My school doesn't offer May sessions so I'm stuck with November too. -.- GG IBO...

But as you said, the scaling will be different, so if you find the questions hard, chances are other people will too, and this will be reflected in their final exams. :shifty:

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I wanted to say something about this before, but I didn't really have the time, and good thing I caught this thread sitting at the bottom of the GIBD page before it went to the second page.

Don't you think that the idea of November exams being more difficult than May exams being said is typical of a student body of teenagers, who are in fact November (201_) candidates? I'm confident there are other schools/opinions that feel the complete opposite about May exams being easier than November's.

I feel so compelled to force one of you to take a look at and see the how many of the candidates who scored higher than 40 so far, and a handful that apparently even scored 45. Even some of my peers (not mentioning any NAMES) have talked (probably jokingly) about "de-registering" their May exams and writing them in November. All this to rebut that the May exams are just as difficult- if not more than November's. But I really shouldn't, because that is a horrible argument.

I wouldn't be so quick to blame the exams for being harder given other variables including but not limited to:

  • the limited number of subjects you're taking (and the number of past papers you've seen) on which you're basing assumptions
  • the availability of IBO resources
  • transparency of information and resources to the students
  • how hard well a student studies based on the above two

As you've said, if the grade boundaries do shift accordingly is applied to a more "difficult" group of exams, what is there to be worried about? To think that May exams are significantly easier than November exams- that isn't even realistic. There haven't been any major appeals to the IBO in this respect at all.

There are noticeably more active May candidates than November candidates on this website, and you shouldn't get the idea that there are major discrepancies between their respective lifestyles when they talk about themselves in the forum; chances are they are facing some similar troubles as you.

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I heard from an ex-IB student (who was fantastic, by the way - 44/45 and only lost a point because of TOK, so I'd expect he did a lot of past papers and has some personal experience on this) that it is only in certain subjects that is harder in Nov or May testings. He said that the sciences and maths tend to be more difficult in the November paper, because the local curriculums prior to the IB in the countries that take the Nov testings tend to be more equipped to handle more difficult questions in those subject areas, and hence the 'bell curve' is shifted slightly and the boundaries apparently more difficult. However, this also applies to English in the May testings; because many countries in the May testing period teach in English, the boundaries are more difficult in the May session.

I would take this with a grain of salt, however, and I'm just quoting this from someone I know. To be honest I'm just happier that there are 2 testing sessions, because that means more practice papers.

But what I find bewildering is the whole thing about the IB in May is said to be easier than the November session. It's something that's been floating around my school for awhile, but I never had the chance to find out for myself.Now I'm not one to believe these kind of stuff, after all, the grade boundaries would shift accordingly, but this is something I experienced when I did the IGCSEs too. The May session is significantly easier than the November ones and it's ridiculous how obvious it is - the same question gets given half the marks it was worth in May! :/

On top of that, my school usually gets the hardest variant of the lot come IGCSE, which never helps, but we're usually pretty prepared so it's alright.

Do you go to ACS(I)? I'm pretty sure that many of the people who go to ACS(I) are well equipped to handle the IB, from what I hear about all the 45 points that people receive there. Just try your best, and don't compare the two testing sessions. You'll save a lot of time by not worrying. :)

Edited by carpediem

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i heard from people that this is the case since there's more people in the may session and therefore more people would do retakes in the november session, something like that? not sure if it's relevant though :S

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Can I simply comment that in the end, you are a November candidate, just like myself and to us it shouldn't really matter whether the exams are harder or not. Although I have to say that it sounds very discouraging to hear that some people claim sciences and maths to be harder in November sessions because we are apparently more capable. It worries me because maths is already difficult....doesn't need to get harder! :P 

 

But back to what I was saying, just do a lot of past papers and take each paper as it comes. We won't gain anything by complaining, but possibly lose interest and just become angry, annoyed and annoying IB students and getting discouraged by people claiming November tests to be harder won't make IB any easier. 

Perhaps people at your school say this as another complain, just for the sake of complaining about IB and I'm sure many May candidates say the exact opposite. They too probably complain that November exams are easier. Either way, don't let it get to you. 

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I am a student in Thailand who is going to sit IB in may 2015. Our school has mocks and they used Nov 2014 so that nobody can find the questions online. I've done full may papers before and everyone in our school struggled with Nov papers. I saw some past papers and it is clear that the papers are harder. At least for Maths and Sciences.

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After reading most of what's been shared i think it's fair to assume that neither one of these sessions are particularly "harder" than the other. however, i am welling to put this to the test.

I already finished my May 2018 exams with good grades, except my Math and Physics HL, or at least i feel i can do better than a 6. Hence, i will be repeating them in the November session of the same year, in fact my exams are coming up in a few months. During them i will be able to judge the difficulty curve from the May session of the exams I did back in May and the ones I will be doing in November.

I know those are just 2 subjects of just 1 year but still it might shed some light on the entire scenario and hopefully solve this conundrum. However, I still think that the curving of grades and what not aid the fact that no, their is little to no difference between the 2 sessions.

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I did all the november past papers for my may which i regret because november in my preference was alot more easier when it comes to the structure and understanding of the paper compared to the may. Im retaking hopefully. So i will probably have an update on what happened. Otherwise I hope the november exams this year is alot more mercyful. 

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