The challenge with attempting to write on both sides at once.
These past eight school days the Grade 11 and 12 students have been sitting their mock examinations.
Students taking the IBDP have written papers in six subjects while the IBCP students have written papers in three subjects at either Standard or Higher Level. The final external examinations taken from Monday 1 - Friday 19 May will count for various percentages of the overall score out of 7:
Course Level Examination
Language A: Language HL and SL 70%
Language A: Language and Literature HL and SL 70%
Language B HL and SL 70%
Language B ab initio 75%
Business and Management HL and SL 75%
Economics HL and SL 80%
Geography HL 80%
Geography SL 75%
History HL 80%
History SL 75%
Biology HL and SL 80%
Chemistry HL and SL 80%
Physics HL and SL 80%
Mathematics HL 80%
Mathematics SL 80%
Mathematical Studies SL 80%
Further Mathematics HL 100%
Music HL and SL 50%
Theatre HL 75%
Theatre SL 65%
Visual Art HL and SL 60%
Given the time taken away from teaching to accommodate the writing of the 87 separate papers which have had to be prepared by the teachers and, subsequently, marked and graded, why do we do this? This will not be a discussion of the pros and cons of examinations, that debate has raged for decades and contemporary thoughts and opinions can be found in academia, in the press and on the internet. The reality is that the IBDP courses include examinations as a significant summative assessment tool, so we need to provide our students with the experience of preparing for, and managing, an examination session.
The mock examinations are useful for students as both practice for revision and preparation, and for managing the final May session in terms of maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle while undertaking the examinations and dealing with the added pressures and stresses they usually bring. They also show up students’ strengths and weaknesses and inform them as to most effective the way forward.
As a diagnostic tool, the information the examinations provide teachers is valuable. They provide a clear picture of where students are in terms of the breadth and depth of their understanding of the subject and, therefore, inform the teacher as to what needs to be the focus over the coming months. The grades also form part of the calculation of the predicted grade required by the IB prior to the examinations.
So, while we might have differing opinions about the value of examinations in general, given that the students must sit them to gain IB qualifications, it is important that we take the time to get iron out any problems before May of Grade 12.
To borrow from King Lear, we do mock examinations (so) that future strife may be prevented now.