Students earning the IB diploma must enroll in and complete IB courses in six disciplines: Language A (the student’s best language), Language B (a foreign language), Individuals and Societies (the social studies), Experimental Science (including Computer Science), Mathematics, and an Elective (Music, Theater, Art). Students may choose to pursue a second science or social studies field in lieu of the IB elective. Students must test in all six disciplines, three at a higher level (HL), which assumes two years of study during the junior and senior years, and three at the Standard Level (SL), two of which will occur over one year of study during either the junior or senior year and the 3rd SL subject will be taught throughout the junior and senior year. (Students may test in four disciplines at the HL level if they so choose.) For Diploma purposes, students may not test at the SL level until their junior year and may not test at the HL level until their senior year. During a semester each of their junior and senior year, students complete the Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course. Students also fulfill the 7 learner outcomes specific to Creativity-Action-Service (CAS) during the course of their junior and senior years, and they submit an Extended Essay, a 4,000-word research paper on a topic of their choice.
SL and HL tests are evaluated externally by examiners contracted by the IB Curriculum and Assessment office in Cardiff, Wales. These examiners are usually university professors who are experts in their fields. Tests and other required components of SL and HL courses are evaluated on a point scale of 1 (the lowest) to 7 (the highest). Students must receive a minimum of twenty-four points on their six tests (including 12 points on their HL tests) and complete Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay and CAS in order to earn an IB diploma.