Writing tips #2: Conventions make readers happy. . .

. . . and a happy reader (examiner) is likely to have a friendly response to what you write.  So as your final effort for 2016, the one where you are determined to 'get better' and eliminate the nasty gremlins in your writing style, give your writing an honest look at these three matters: The convention of punctuating a work's title in your essays and responses to questions. The convention of only talking about one thing at a time, a ...

Increase your marks – avoid these common errors…

Let's face it: there will almost certainly be questions, or parts of questions, in your exam papers that you just can't do. Maybe you've forgotten the method, or the algebra is too hard, or you don't understand what is being asked, or you simply get stuck. OK, so you probably won't get 100%. But there are also lots of very common slips which lead to unnecessary marks being lost; do your very best not to fall into these numeric and ...

‘Let us contemplate evil’

“Let us contemplate evil’ Sheridan Baker in his Practical Stylist begins one of his chapters with this invitation about ‘evil. And he offers us some evil practices that will keep you from becoming the writer you could be. So here is the second set of tips plus one. The one you really need to get rid of is the following practice: ‘emphasize on’ In idiomatic English, all you need to write or say is ‘emphasize’ followed by whatever it is that is emphasized. So ‘Fitzgerald emphasizes ...

Understanding exponential functions

An exponential function is any function where x is raised to a power, for example $f(x) = 1.5 \times {2^{x}} + 10$. For most of this blog I will concentrate on $2^x$, but the same rules apply whatever the base of the power is. 2x is not the same as x2 They feel like the same sort of thing, don't they, but they're completely different functions. Look at the graphs: yes, both functions increase rapidly for x > 0, but they're very different to the left of the y-axis ...

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 ...