IB Physics: New Exam Weightings for May 2021

If you are sitting your IB Physics exams in May 2021, you'll want to know about this new announcement from the IB regarding the weighting of each paper...

The coronavirus situation meant that May 2020 exams were cancelled and that most students in year one of IB Physics missed a great deal of schooling. For those IBDP1 students, the IB are trying to streamline the exams to reflect the missing teaching time and make the exam process a little more fair.


The following changes have been made to the assessment of IB Physics in May 2021:

  • Remove Paper 3
  • Remove Group 4 Project

This means that:

  • You do not have to study your Option Topic
  • You do not have to complete the Group 4 project

For some time, the unanswered question was,

What are the new IB exam weightings in May 2021?

Think about it.... for IB Physics, if they remove Paper 3, then they remove 20% (SL) and 24% (HL) of the assessment weighting of the final grade.

The answer was finally revealed today.....

There will be a greater weighting on Paper 1 (30%) and Paper 2 (50%). The importance of your internal assessment is unchanged at 20%.

Here are the new assessment weightings for IB Physics (SL and HL):

Whilst the percentage weighting of each paper has increased - the numbers of marks remains the same, so no extra work for your in each of these papers!

Another unanswered question was:

Will they change Paper 1 and Paper 2 to assess practicals in a written paper?

The IB have confirmed that, there will be no formal assessment of the prescribed practicals or associated skills as normally found within section A of paper 3. It must, however, be stressed that experimental skill development is required to support the internal assessment and remains an important aspect of the subject.

These changes are real and quite useful - thank goodness. However, some adjustments will need to be made by you. You will have to adapt your individual study to maximise your marks in IB Physics May 2021. The question will now be...

How should I study IB Physics for the May 2021 exams?

Here's my advice:

  1. Focus on the more commonly examined topics in IB Physics. I have a full breakdown of the exact topics to focus on here, but generally - Mechanics (Topic 2), Waves (Topics 4 & 9) and Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics (Topics 7 & 12) are the big ones.
  2. Write brief and organised revision notes for these topics now. I have a free tutorial (and blank revision note template) on how exactly to do this quickly. If you have good revision notes now, then you can focus on exam technique nearer the exams.
  3. Practice every multiple choice question you can find. I highly recommend www.gradegorilla.com for this. Aim for 10-15 minutes 5 times a week.
  4. Spend time learning exam technique from an expert. Watching others complete exam-style questions is a fantastic (and passive) way of significantly improving you exam technique. Unfortunately, copyright of IB exam papers makes that very difficult to access on line. In my online course, I have used my extensive experience teaching IB to write hundreds of questions that emulate the official IB Physics past paper questions and I have filmed myself completing them. If you'd like access to these instructional tutorials - click here to learn more about my online IB tutoring for IB Physics
  5. Practice past paper questions, topic-by-topic. Paper 2 is hard and its now worth half of your final IB physics grade. You need to get a hold of a huge bank of exam questions and start practising! My online course, Ace Your IB Physics Exams can help you out with that.
  6. Perfect your Physics IA. You internal assessment is still worth 20% of your final grade and you have control over that right now. if you're wondering how to write a physics IA IB - then head over to my course Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write the PERFECT Physics IA. I can help you every step of the way.

Hope you've found this useful and happy to answer any questions 

Take Care!

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