Advice for Successful Individual Oral Commentaries

At some point, sooner or later, whether you are a HL or SL student, you'll see that IOC coming toward you.  You'll be thinking such things as 'how am I going to get through this?' or 'what can I do to prepare?'  Your teachers will have offered you a good many tips, some of which you took on board and others that have slipped away over time–or weren't actually heard.  Teachers have diverse opinions about how best to do this, ...

A Wider World (Part 1)

Assuming that you're on this site because you're interested in the kind of reading and writing that your literature and language courses may or may not involve, these three (or maybe more) blog entries will be looking outside and inside of conventional 'English class' materials to provide new directions and unpack some older ones. Widening our sense of graphic novels  Take a look at these four graphic narratives. A Game for Swallows Born in the midst of the Lebanese war when the city ...

Prepare Your Body and Your Mind for the Exams

This will probably be my last blog before you dive into the exams in May. I hope your revision has gone well: there's still time to go over more past papers to become as familiar as possible with the way the examiners ask questions. And don't forget that, in Maths exams, there's only one mark for the correct answer – all the other marks are for working and intermediate answers. So train yourself to write as much as you can ...

SN1 vs SN2

I have not long been back from Oxford in the UK where I was running a revision course for OSC. One of the concepts that the students seemed needing clarifying was when to decide when an organic reaction was SN1 or SN2 so I thought it may be worth sharing this with you in this blog post: First of all, some definitions. S = Substitution (there are other types of mechanisms out there such as elimination and addition.) N = Nucleophilic (it is ...

Don’t Lose Marks Unnecessarily in Your Maths Exams

There is statistical evidence that 1 in 7 of you will lose marks which you shouldn't lose: in other words, there could be marks which you could easily gain, even if you can't answer a question, but what you put on paper didn't match the examiner's mark scheme. It's unlikely you're going to get 100%. Some questions you just can't see what to do; some you think you can do, but you get the wrong answer; or you run out of ...

Understanding Keywords in Mathematics Exams

Whether you are approaching your final exams, or you're at the stage of mid-course exams, you're probably beginning to put in some practice of past paper questions. Sometimes it isn't the maths which is hard, but understanding the language of the question; and each question will contain certain keywords which tell you how you should be tackling the question, and what you should be writing down. I can't emphasise enough how important it is to understand what, in the context ...

Coming to Terms with Greek Terms (2)

In this pair we are dealing with one term that you may encounter but are less likely to actually use in your own critical writing, and another that you might actually find usable.  Either way, your knowledge of these 'terms of art' can work to expand your sense of how to talk (or hear others talk) about the way literary works are constructed and operate. The first term is mimesis.  Both Plato and Aristotle employed this term, not in precisely the ...

Coming to Terms with Some Greek Terms (1)

Currently, there are some critical terms that many IB students are using in their essays. These terms are often used when writing about narratives such as novels and short stories, though they also occur in drama. Still, some of you might not be using these – although you are referring to the things they signify. It's possible that you might raise the quality of your discussion by using them – and using them accurately, which is not always the case in  ...

Planning Your Digital Afterlife

Do you own a portable phone? tablet? computer? Who do you/would you trust with the passwords, pins, puks, for the physical machines? Do you know how many online accounts do you have?  Who do you/would you trust with the passwords, security questions' answers, login names? If you were to die, what would happen to your digital legacy? Consider your e-commerce and banking  accounts, stored value accounts (Bitcoin wallet, PayPal),  social media, email, cloud-backup and gaming accounts, accounts containing your intellectual property (writing, ...

Some Mathematical Tips for the New Year

Happy New Year everybody! At this time last year I suggested some new year resolutions to help you in your studies. They are of course valid at all times, and if you didn't see them, then have a look now. This time I've got some tips which you might want to note down; they cover specific areas of the syllabus, although they aren't applicable to all of HL, SL, and Studies. Degrees or Radians? Well, it depends on what the question is asking you ...