How to get a 45 in the IB: Strategies for the perfect score

Are you taking the IB? Want to know how to score at least a 6 in every subject? Keep reading for our expert tips on achieving the perfect score!

2 months ago   •   7 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by freddie marriage / Unsplash

If you are in the IB or going to enter it soon, you have definitely heard of THE fabled number. It almost sounds like a myth but for less than 1% of IB students globally (about 900 out of 180,000 in 2022), the famous 45 is a reality. While it is very tough, it can be achieved with a lot of hard work, some dedication, and in reality a lot of luck as well.

Hi! I’m Muhammad and I finished my IB diploma in May 2023 and am currently completing a Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB Science) from the Australian National University.

Class selection

The first step to getting that 45 is getting the right class selection for your two years of IBDP. Chances are you have a general idea of what you will be doing in the future meaning 2-3 of your classes will be geared towards that. You will, however, have to choose a subject area which you will not be pursuing in the future and this is where you can maximise your points. For example, if you know, you will not be doing any science in the future, just take environmental sciences rather than biology, it will make your life considerably easier.

Another thing to look out for is your higher level courses as some are more extensive than others. Chemistry at HL will take up a considerable amount of time as compared to English HL meaning you will have less time for your other subjects. You’ll want to be set in your classes early on as you don’t want to fall behind by changing after a few weeks.  


The biggest thing that helped me achieve success in many of my subjects was being physically and mentally present in class. The more classes you miss the higher the chance of you missing something for the tests, so make your best effort to plan your doctor’s appointments or other commitments on days you won’t miss the important classes.

Even when you are in class, make an effort to take effective notes and expand your learning rather than wait for the class to be over. Think about it this way: the more learning you accomplish at school, the less you have to revise. This is one of the ways I was able to maintain a great social life and extracurricular profile as for tests and assignments I would only have to revise rather than re-learn content I wasn’t paying attention to.

If you really want a 45, you can’t afford a day or two of bad note-taking. You have to be present and actively learning at school because your time away from school is valuable and you don’t just want to dump all your learning into that time after school.


A big myth about achieving great scores in the IB is that you must have been glued to the books 24/7 and never left your room or did any activities. The reality is, that you want to focus on the quality of study you get done rather than claiming to do a certain amount of hours.

What does this look like? Well, I can’t tell you what it will be like for you but for me, it started by getting to know myself as a learner. What times do I study the best? Do I study better before or after I eat? Do I get distracted in my room? Standing or sitting desk? There are many questions you will have to ask yourself in the initial few weeks of classes to really maximise your output. A big part of IB is knowing how you study and maximising your time rather than spending it frivolously.

For your harder classes, try always having something to read or learn about in the schedule so whenever you have a free half hour or hour at night, have a look at try taking some notes with low intensity. You don’t have to be preparing for an exam every time you study, sometimes it can just be watching a video on a concept you aren’t 100% on.

Internal Assessments

Internal Assessments can be a make or break for your final grade in any subject. They generally account for 20% of your final grade meaning if you want a 7 overall, you want to get at least a 6 in the IA.

The key to most IAs is to focus on simple ideas rather than trying to discover a new subatomic particle. Especially for the science ones, focus on the write-up itself then choosing an extremely hard experiment and not having time to make a good write-up.

The general tip for IAs that really helped me was utilising even a 30-minute gap in between engagements to have a read or get a couple of sentences down. You won’t always have a long period of time to write it if you want to keep up with classes.


You will absolutely need a scheduling app to help you manage.

I used an app called Todoist and categorised my tasks based on how hard it was, the timing and the relevance. Anytime a teacher gives you a deadline, note it down instantly.

Also, remember that you should keep going with your extracurricular activities and not solely focus on your studies. I still played all my sports, went to the gym, took active leadership roles in clubs and was involved in the social part of my school. Sometimes I found I would study better after a gym session than if I went home and studied in place of it. It’s about finding a schedule for you that doesn’t stretch you in a million places, and about enjoying high school!

Extended Essay and TOK

The EE and TOK are some of the most challenging parts of the IBDP mostly because of student's lack of experience with them.

For EE if you are aiming for a 45 you’ll want to choose a subject area that enables you to get an A. In my opinion, it is much more straightforward to get an A in EE than in TOK which can be very much hit or miss. Subjects like Physics or Math are notoriously hard to get A’s in but English, environmental sciences, and global politics are certainly more achievable.

For EE, I would recommend not getting stuck in with your original ideas. Be open to change and if you pick something you enjoy you’ll be committed to it. That being said, if you pick something you didn’t enjoy like me, well then make an effort to learn something new and don’t complain about it to every single person you see (then you’ll never like it).

While there is no perfect formula for TOK, I believe the best way to do well in the class is to be active and participate. More than studying, TOK is about understanding and logically being able to process ideas and complex thoughts into words. The only way you’ll be able to do well on the graded assignments is by working in the TOK mindset in your class. Regardless, TOK essay marking is not consistent enough to rely on, so I would definitely invest more into EE hoping for an A and try to scrape by TOK with a B to get those final 3 points.

Final exams

Your final exams are the most important part of getting that 45 but the mock exams play a key role. Instead of treating the mock exams like a trial run, give them 95% effort and really try to treat them like final exams. I found that some strategies and study timetables I used for my mocks weren’t as effective as I thought they would be, and I was able to adjust for my finals.

Furthermore, having studied all the content extensively for mocks, I was able to pinpoint which topics and areas I struggled with more and apply that to my final preparation. Many students make the mistake of taking the mocks too lightly and that can backfire easily while preparing for finals as you go in completely blank.

Overall picture

You can do all the meticulous planning and masterful execution, but a 45 in the IB diploma program really does involve a decent chunk of luck. Apart from the grade, your IB life should be about seeing what areas you are interested in and enjoying the last years before university. You should definitely aim high but don’t be too disappointed in not achieving your goal. But, if you take into account some of the tips from my experience, you may be a few steps closer to getting that fabled number!

If you want more personalised advice, sign up for a free 30-minute study skills consultation with one of our many expert IB tutors! They’ve lived through the IB and their experience goes a long way in supporting your goals.

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Written by KIS Academics Tutor for IB English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Muhammad Ammar. Muhammad is completing a Bachelor in Philosophy (PhB Science) and has received stellar reviews from his past KIS academic students. You can view Muhammad’s profile here and request him as a tutor.

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