What Do You Get Asked in University Interviews?

Some universities interview applicants. In the UK, the Oxford and Cambridge interviews are an important part of the application process, Imperial College and UCL tend to interview the majority of applicants. In the US, many Ivy League colleges also carry out interviews. But what should you expect, and how can you prepare? Interviewers stress that they are not testing knowledge, which would be unfair, given that applicants come from many different backgrounds and educational systems. The purpose, says Oxford, is to ...

Is It Finished Now?

This post is really for students who have just finished the IB, although those that are half way through would do well to ‘take note’. I have just finished remarks for Physics HL – I will be honest in saying that it feels a bit strange to be doing remarks so long after the actual exams – what is going on? Why would it take so long (four weeks) to decide that you are not happy and think there has been ...

Is It Finished Now?

I have three weeks left before school starts and I have not had a clear break yet – a few days here and there, but nothing where I can just relax and worry about, well … nothing at all. A few days ago I finished remarking another two Physics HL Paper 2 scripts and I was struck by the following questions: How many remarks are there going to be?  In physics, the papers rarely change that much. Most scripts have a ...

Vitamin Chemistry

Vitamins are taught in the biochemistry option. However, the aim of this blog post is not to cover the exact requirements of the IB course. Instead, my intention is to give the reader an overview of the topic. So, what do we mean by vitamins? Well, vitamins are organic molecules that are needed in small quantitates in order for an organism to remain healthy. If an organism is lacking in a particular vitamin it will develop a deficiency disease. Vitamins will vary ...

Devising Companies to Explore

When you start looking for a devising company that you want to explore, it helps to know a little bit about them and also have some videos of their work to watch. Over the last few weeks I have been gathering ideas from many teachers about companies they would like to explore with their students, so here are a few that you may want to look at yourself or as a class. I hope that some of these companies and ...

Herbert Marcuse, Catalyst of the 60’s Protest Movements

Today, who remembers or even reads Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979), post-Marxist theoretician and last proponent of a society founded on total human emancipation and personal self-accomplishment? In The One Dimensional Man (1964), his scathing attack of the ‘ideology of advanced industrial society’, Marcuse deplored the narrowing down of modern consumers’ aspirations as ‘they recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment.’ Exiled to America with his fellow-members of the Frankfurt School of Social ...

If You’re Teaching Writing about Africa. . .

. . .you might find this wry commentary by Binyavanga Wainaina interesting.  This piece was published in 2009 and maybe we–writers and readers–are well beyond this kind of thinking.  And maybe not. I have found the essay useful in class to remind all of us how easy it is to fall into facile stereotypical thinking about this culture, or for that matter, any culture. And for some of us it's summer and time for some material that is not read ...

Putting the “Wow” into Magic Squares!

I'm sure that at some time in your life you've come across a magic square; usually a 4 x 4 table filled in with numbers where every row and column adds to give the same total. Here's an example where the total is 34 and, as a bonus, the two leading diagonals add to give 34 as well.           Well, that's quite nice, but hasn't really got the wow factor, has it? The next one has, though: same numbers, filled in differently.           It's ...

The Biochemistry Option

Proteins Proteins are a group of biomolecules (or biopolymers) that form enzymes and muscles in the body. They are the chief nitrogenous compounds found in living organisms but are still only approximately 15% nitrogen. The other elements they are comprised of is carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and a relatively small amount of sulphur. Proteins are made of amino acids which, as the name implies, are made from amino groups (NH2) and carboxylic acid groups (COOH). These groups are joined together via a carbon ...

The Art of Protest

'Raising awareness' Art can do many things, and recently – certainly since the 1980s – we’ve seen a lot of artists focus on one thing in particular: the art of protest (or ‘raising awareness’). With seemingly more and more things to protest about and the ever-growing reach and power of social media to inform etc, ‘art’ has become the go-to vehicle to express angst, anger, frustration etc. and to ‘raise awareness’. We are more familiar now with a whole range of ecological and ...