How difficult is IB

Important note: With regard to the recognition of the International Baccalaureate (IB) 2020, following the cancellation of the exams for the IB diploma in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

The educational certificates issued by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in the summer of 2020 on the successful completion of the two-year IB program will be based on the substitute school performance replacing the IB exams and waiving the central final exams in May 2020 as a university entrance qualification in accordance with the ( Resolution of the Standing Conference of March 10th, 1986 as amended on March 7th, 2019).

The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Diploma) is a school leaving certificate awarded by the Geneva-based private International Baccalaureate Organization (IB Organization) and can be obtained at many thousands of schools around the world. An IB diploma is generally recognized as a university entrance qualification throughout Germany if the conditions of the resolution of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of March 10, 1986 in the version dated March 7, 2019 are met. Until the 2020 exam, the IB Diploma will provide direct university access to all subjects if all requirements are met. Depending on the subjects documented in the IB Diploma, there will be either a direct, with free choice of subject, or a from the examination date 2021.

The IB Diploma is a general school leaving certificate and comprises a two-year diploma program. The curriculum provides for six examination subjects, one of which must be taken from the subject groups one to five defined by the IB organization, as well as another optional subject that can be chosen from each of the six subject groups.

  • Group 1: Studies in language and literature
  • Group 2: Language acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and societies
  • Group 4: (Experimental) Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The arts

At least three (four are also possible) must be made by the pupils at the eligibility level Higher level (HL) are completed, the rest on Standard level (SL). The IB organization defines HL courses with a total of 240 teaching hours, SL courses with 150 hours.

This information, prepared in cooperation with the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB), is based on the version of March 10, 1986 in the version of March 7, 2019 on the agreement on the recognition of the "International Baccalaureate Diploma / Diplôme du Baccalauréat International". The decision serves the competent Recognition bodies as a basis for decision-making as to which foreign school qualifications can open up university access in Germany The information contained here on the DAAD website serves as an orientation for international students, but is not binding for recognition bodies.

1. Requirements for the recognition of the IB Diploma in Germany

According to the decision of the Standing Conference, the IB Diploma is recognized in Germany as a university entrance qualification, if the qualification "was acquired after attending at least twelve ascending grades in schools". Also must by the graduate all of the following conditions must be met:

1.1 Examination subjects

  • in the IB Diploma Program six independent examination subjects are to be taken continuously, i.e. every two years in ascending order, of which at least three subjects are in the Higher level (HL), the other subjects in Standard level (SL).
  • From IB subject groups 1 and 2, a total of two languages ​​at level A (native speaker or very high language level) or level B (medium language level) must be taken. According to the IB agreement mentioned above, proof of “at least one continued foreign language as Language A or Language B HL” must be provided. Choosing a so-called Language ab initio (i.e. another foreign language in which there is little or no previous knowledge) is possible as a sixth subject, but it does not meet the requirements for subject groups 1 and 2. A so-called as Language A: Literature SL can be recognized from the 2013 exam in accordance with the IB agreement mentioned above if the pupils cannot receive lessons in their mother tongue at their school.
  • A social science subject from subject group 3 (History, Geography, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Social Anthropology, Business and Management, Global Politics) must be among the six examination subjects.
  • One of the science subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) from group 4 must be proven.
  • Up to and including exam 2020: Mathematics SL or Mathematics HL or Further Mathematics in conjunction with Mathematics HL must have been selected from group 5.
  • From exam 2021: An IB diploma with the mathematics courses "Analysis and Approaches" and "Applications and Interpretation" at Higher Level (HL) opens direct university access for all subjects. If the two mathematics courses are taken at Standard Level (SL), the IB diploma opens a direct course for humanities and social sciences, artistic, economic and social sciences, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, psychology, law and sport. In this case, one of the natural science subjects from group 4 (biology, chemistry or physics) must be taken at higher level (HL).
  • In addition to the subjects mentioned, the sixth compulsory subject can be one of the following subjects designated according to the terminology of the IB: Visual Arts, Music, Theater (Arts), Film, Literature and Performance, another modern foreign language, Latin, Classical Greek, General Chemistry, Applied Chemistry, Environmental Systems and Societies, Computer Science, Design Technology, World Religions, Sport Exercise and Health Science. For recognition in Germany, only those subjects can be included in the assessment that are explicitly mentioned in the IB agreement mentioned above. All other subjects are excluded from the assessment.
  • Either mathematics or one of the natural sciences must be among the three subjects to be demonstrated in the HL Biology, Chemistry, Physics are located.
  • German certificate holders who cannot prove that they have taught German at a school abroad as part of the IB program must prove that they have sufficient knowledge of German before starting to study in Germany. Further details are regulated by state law provisions.

1.2 Grading

The IB point scale for examinations ranges from 1 to 7 in ascending order. The grades 7 to 4 represent passing grades, the grades 3 to 1 in the IB are failing grades. The IB diploma is issued if a total of at least 24 points has been achieved in the six examination subjects. This minimum number of points must also be proven for the recognition of the IB diploma in Germany.

The examination subjects must have been graded with an IB grade of at least 4. If, according to the above-mentioned IB agreement, the IB failure grade 3 is only available in one subject, this can be compensated for by achieving at least the IB passing grade 5 and a total of at least 24 points in another subject at at least the same level of difficulty. The IBO also issues the IB Diploma if there is more than one failed grade. However, this cannot be taken into account for direct university access in Germany.

If you do not fully meet the conditions of the IB agreement mentioned above, you have the option of taking an additional examination in accordance with the "Framework regulations for university entrance with foreign educational certificates for training at preparatory colleges and for the assessment test" for recognition as a university entrance qualification (Resolution of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of April 15, 1994 as amended) to discard. Recognition as a subject-related university entrance qualification is also granted possible through a successful university course of one year in a country whose school-leaving certificates in Germany open the university entrance directly or after a one-year successful course (see p. 4 of the above mentioned IB agreement).

2. Grade conversion

The conversion of the total number of points achieved in the IB Diploma into the German grading system is particularly relevant for you if you are applying for a subject with restricted admission with minimum grades. With the formula specified in the IB agreement, the IB grade can be converted into an overall German grade and you can determine whether you have achieved the average grade required by the German university for the desired course of study.

  • N = German average grade sought
  • P = total number of points shown in the certificate
  • Pmax = the upper cornerstone (maximum grade = 42)
  • Pmin = the lower benchmark (minimum grade = 24)

The final result of the conversion is a decimal number which, including the first decimal place, represents the German average grade. It is not rounded, but further decimal places are omitted.


The total IB score of a graduate is 37:

Since the second decimal place is omitted, the grade converted into the German system in the example is 1.8.

3. Recognition of the diploma

When applying to a German university, you must prove your IB diploma by submitting a corresponding certificate that issued by the IB organization and lists the examination subjects and grades. On the other hand, certificates that were issued by the school attended cannot be recognized as a matter of principle. Also a so-called IB Certificate is not accepted by German universities.

If you have not yet been issued an official IB diploma at the time of your application, the official Transcript of Grades submitted to the IB organization for recognition. The time between the announcement of the grades and the end of application deadlines at German universities for the winter semester of the same year is usually very short. Hence, it is recommended that you do one early on Transcript of Grades apply to the IB organization through your school.

In order to be able to determine whether all requirements for direct university access have been met, Proof of all annual reports (term reports / semester reports) is also required. This must show the level at which the 6 IB subjects were taken during the 2-year IB program.

If you apply via the system and you do not have an IB diploma in paper form, your examination results can be verified online by uni-assist. To do this, you must inform your IB school coordinator in good time that your results will be made available for universities and relevant institutions on the IB homepage. Please note that uni-assist can only verify the test result online if you have informed the uni-assist portal yourself about the publication of your test result by the IB organization using the contact form.