Just starting your diploma course? Don’t panic!

Many of you will be starting, or have just started, the new school year. What should you be doing to make a success of your mathematics course? Will I be expected to know topics at a more advanced level before I start? Some of you will find mathematics comes easily to you, and you are looking forward to new challenges in the subject. Others will be anxious that it's all going to be above your head. Let me allay those fears by ...

Quadratic Factorisation

Whether you are taking HL, SL or Studies, you can be certain that there will be at least one quadratic expression to factorise in your exams - probably several. Here is my quick guide. If I multiply out these brackets: $(x-1)(x+3)$ I will get: $x^2+2x-3$ The result is a quadratic expression: a quadratic must have a term in $x^2$, and can also have a term in $x$ and a constant (a number). If you reverse the process, you will be factorising the quadratic. So, here are ...

Facing up to the IA assessment: the dreaded oral

This is a tough one, and there's no doubt about that.  Here are a few bits of good advice selected from various teachers. Collaborative advice from teachers for HL/SL candidates facing the IA for Part 2 Preparation through the year Take good notes in class, mark up your poems or passages, and all of your Part 2 works, color code, so that you have easily accessible materials to revisit for review for both the IOC and the HL discussion. Pace your review, ...

Handwriting counts in exams

With the May exam session behind us by nearly six weeks, and most exams marked by the examiners, it is time to address an important issue with regard to IB exams: your handwriting. In much of life, your ability to hand write work clearly may not seem that important, especially if many of your teachers are already moving to having you submit electronical copies of work. However, the IB exams are still hand written.  Most of you are able to produce ...

Existentialism in brief

Just in case you're not willing or able to take on the whole of Sarah Blakewell's At the Existentialist Cafe, (New York, 2016) I thought I'd provide you easy access to some points from her summary on page on page 34.  Sometimes it's good to just have a solid reference point to play your ideas against, particularly if you are reading works by Sartre or Camus.  These, remember, are her 'take' on some important facets that she sees in the ...

The New Extended Essay

Were you aware that a new EE guide was out? It has been live for around three months and is for first examinations May 2018, so that will be students whom you start to teach this coming August / September. Now that things have got quieter with IB teaching (IB2 students are finished) I thought it was worth writing about it so that it can inform your planning. The first thing is that the guide is entirely electronic. I am sure that ...

The Halogens and the Sea

There are a few references to lab work in this post – I do need to stress that any labs you carry out need to be under the supervision of one of your teachers (and risk assessed by the teacher) and carried out in school. I have always been fascinated by the link with the number of substances dissolved in the sea. For example, gold ions are dissolved in the sea and it is estimated that there are getting on for ...

Studying for Success on HL Paper 3

KEY IDEAS for May 2016 HL Paper 3 exam Online help for students Students must refer to both their secondary research and any primary investigations, visitations, interview or any other first-hand experiences they have had related to the  2016 Case Study SMART HOMES. The following sources provide a wealth of articles and guidance for the HL Paper 3 exam. Facebook group: ITGS Case Study 2016 Smart Homes ( resources and examples may be useful in responses) ITGSopedia Case Study and Paper ...

In one week the IB history exams begin

To steal from Lenin, 'What is to be done?'  The burning questions of IB history may include how to get the elusive 7 or how to pass if you haven't opened your textbook in the past year.  Although these are very different scenarios they both involve how to prepare for the IB in this last week. Usually I write about getting a good night's sleep and making sure that you have your lucky pen but today I feel like being more exam specific. Paper 1: Review the content, ...

Introductions (Part 3): Nailing it in Paper 2

Having looked at techniques for introductions for Commentaries and Written Assignments (Parts 1 and 2 of this series), it's time to look at what you can do to provide winning introductions to your Paper 2 essays. Here again, as with the Commentary, we're working with a timed exam.  That means you need to have some strategies in place so you don't have to agonize too much over the preliminaries to this portion of your essay and can instead spend the fast-disappearing  ...