The external assessment consists of three written papers.
Paper 1 is made up of multiple-choice questions which test knowledge of the core and
additional higher level (AHL) material for higher level (HL) students and the core only for
standard level (SL) students. The questions are designed to be short, one- or two-stage problems
which address objectives 1 and 2 (see objectives). No marks are deducted for incorrect responses.
Calculators are not permitted, but students are expected to carry out simple calculations.
Paper 2 tests knowledge of the core and AHL material for HL students and the core only for SL
students. The questions address objectives 1, 2 and 3 and the paper is divided into two sections.
In section A, there is a data-based question which will require students to analyse a given set
of data. The remainder of section A is made up of short-answer questions.
In section B, students are expected to answer two questions from a choice of four at HL** or
one question from a choice of three at SL. These extended response questions may involve
writing a number of paragraphs, solving a substantial problem, or carrying out a substantial
piece of analysis or evaluation. A calculator is required for this paper.
Paper 3 tests knowledge of the options and addresses objectives 1, 2 and 3. At HL, students
will answer several short-answer questions and an extended response question in each of the
two options studied. At SL, students answer several short-answer questions in each of the two
options studied. A calculator is required for this paper. (In biology, students will also answer
a data-based question in each of the two options studied.)
(The assessment specifications at HL and SL are summarized on the IB Diploma Programme guide: Biology.)