COMPARING OLD AND NEW: 14 DIFFERENCES (part 1: today’s blog – the top 7)

three components negIn my last post, I wrote about the similarities between the old/current visual arts course and the new one starting any day now.

You can find the post here.


However, there are also significant differences, so here I will discuss some of these. I have listed my first seven here.

Some are obvious but others may not be.

I am lining up another set of differences between the current and the new course for a future blog post. Stay tuned!




  1. There will be three components instead of two:
  • Comparative Study
  • Process Portfolio
  • Exhibition


 2. Weightings change: PROCESS & EXHIBITION (= 80%)

Students now get up to 80% of their marks with art-planning, art exploration and art making (40% process portfolio and 40% exhibition). The largest chunk of process portfolio marks goes on “skills, techniques and processes” and almost all the marks for the exhibition (27 out of 30) go on having a coherent body of works, demonstrating technical competence and showing conceptual qualities.

There are other criteria, of course, including critical investigation, review, refinement and reflection etc, but the Process Portfolio certainly has the potential to be a lot more about experimentation and exploration of media and techniques than the investigation workbook ever was.


**The image shows how the three components relate in terms of their weighting


  1. No more ‘integration’.

These three components will be assessed separately. Currently students can earn ‘integration’ marks for the depth of “relationship between investigation and studio”. However, splitting up assessment for the new course was a ‘given’ from the outset: the curriculum review team had to work within set parameters in developing the new guide, and separate assessment for each of the components was one of these parameters. So the ‘exhibition’ examiner will not see the files submitted for either the comparative study or the process portfolio.


  1. No more interview!

Well, of course the interview had its supporters and has a long history as part of the final visual arts assessment process, although it never generated any marks. The alternative 1000 word commentary now represents a viable alternative. Either way, that was then and this is now: no need to worry about recording interviews for the new course.


  1. No more option B!

Personally I was a fan of this option, and most of my investigation workbook minded students took this option – and many achieved 6s and 7s.

But it’s gone. The only decision now is whether to take the course at Higher Level or Standard Level.


  1. New emphasis on PROCESS

For the course with first examinations 2009 there is/was some reference to process in the studio component (“shows development of ideas and strategies for expression, displays sensitivity to materials and their use, the work has been reviewed and modified as it has progressed, resulting in an increasingly informed resolution of ideas and medium” etc).

But in the new 2014 course the Process Portfolio gets the same weight in assessment terms as the finished, resolved pieces presented in the Exhibition – both 40%


  1. Required media/techniques (in one component)

Currently and previously it was possible for a student to go through the entire course and do nothing (more or less) more than sit at a computer screen using digital techniques to generate their studio collection; or everything could be ceramics, or paint etc. They may or may not have achieved a great grade but either way there was nothing in writng to encourage either them or their teacher to be a little more adventurous.

The process portfolio requires that students MUST do more than be more adventurous than this. I think it’s a great improvement, and it does not necessarily dilute the final exhibition because the required diversity does not apply to the exhibition.


Page 20 of the guide shows the art-making forms table.

Students should work with a variety of different art-making and conceptual forms.

SL students should work with at least two art-making forms, each selected from separate columns

HL students should experience working with at least three art-making forms, selected from a minimum of two columns 

  • Greg
    August 16, 2014

    Hi Andrew

    I understand (and am very pleased) that HL students must demonstrate their experience of working with at least three art-making forms within their process portfolios. Does the final exhibition also need to demonstrate this range of media or might they decide to present a body of their best work in only 1 or 2 media?

    The lack of cross-over/integration between the 3 separately assessed components seems to be an issue here. At least in the past, the visiting examiner spent time with the IWBs before seeing the Studio exhibition (or at least the good examiners did!)



  • Andrew Vaughan
    August 17, 2014

    Hi Greg,
    There are no media/technique restrictions in the exhibition – so yes, 1 or 2 media is fine.

    Separate examiners for separate components means each component is self-sufficient, but the exhibition has explanation/contextual exhibition text alongside every artwork and there is also the curatorial rationale for the whole show, so the examiner will get a reasonable idea of intentions and development.

    (So how was the online workshop? You never got to the Ardeche! Come to sunny Dubai September for a touch of face-to-face!?)

    (Are you back at school yet?)



    • Greg
      August 18, 2014

      Hi Andrew

      Thanks for the info.

      The online workshop was useful and informative (rather than exciting). The leader (Brad) did a very good job of keeping things moving – when many participants tended to ‘lurk’ rather than contribute. Having seen the online workshop model from the tutor/mentor perspective myself, I felt his pain (and appreciated his patience with the reluctant participants)

      I would have loved to have done the Ardeche – maybe next year?

      Just one more question – any thoughts on a word count for the CS? I’ll be getting my first cohort to use our December Paris trip to carry out most of their first hand research.

      I’m in school next week for a bit of admin – and then things kick off properly the week after. How about yourself?

      best regards


      • Andrew Vaughan
        August 21, 2014

        Hi Greg,
        Good question.
        There’s no mention of a word count in the guide but there are now a few examples of the comparative study on the OCC so have a look at them.

        I’m going to IB Assessment in Cardiff shortly and will see if there is any further guidance or advice available now the course has (more or less) started.

        My students will burst into the art room full of eager joy on Tuesday!



  • Greg
    August 28, 2014

    Hi Andrew

    I was encouraged by the CS example featuring the student’s own visual studies from the artworks under consideration. It seemed to suggest that visual research from work journals and the Process Portfolio could be used as evidence/illustrations within the CS (or is that not allowed?)

    My students will kick off their CS during our Paris trip in December. I hope to get them done by the end of the first year so that they don’t clash with Extended Essays – we’ll see how that pans out!



  • Andrew Vaughan
    September 15, 2014

    Hi Greg,
    Sorry about the delay, I’ve only just spotted your post.

    Visual research from the journal can be used in the comparative study because it could be part of the analysis of formal qualities for both HL and SL, and HL students are aiming to make connections with their own art making practice – which could also involve visual research.

    However, I don’t think visual research from the Process Portfolio can be used in the comparative study, because that would seem to constitute ‘double dipping’ – if its being used in the PP it cannot also be used in the CS. (Or maybe I’ve misunderstood your question?)



  • Shruti
    October 30, 2014

    I am new to teaching IB visual arts. I have lots of questions and doubts regarding new VA syllabus. Please help.
    Waiting for reply.

    • Andrew Vaughan
      January 12, 2015

      Hi Shruti.
      I think that if you lave lots of questions the best place for you to find answers is the Online Curriculum Centre – there are many useful teaching ideas in the teacher resource exchange, and the forum is full of questions, answers, concerns, issues etc.



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