Have you concentrated on the practical Internal Assessments and Major Project when teaching your students – not an uncommon problem when it comes to teaching Design Technology. Therefore often students can be worried that they have not concentrated on all the content – 7 Units for Standard Level or 12 Units for Higher Level. However I always find it important that once you have done some active revision and review of each topic (see flashcard and mindmap posts) that you discuss in depth exam technique as often this is where students lose most marks – not through lack of knowledge on specific areas of content.
For example it is important to make students think through how to answer long answer questions in Design Technology. They need to know that even if this is not an essay style question as they would receive in say ITGS or History – there are definite ways of answering to make sure they grab as many marks as possible.
The first thing students should always be recommended to do – is underline the command term and then think through what they need to answer, and so for this question the word Discuss – which according to the IB means give an account including, where possible, a range of arguments for and against the relative importance of various factors, or comparisons of alternative hypotheses. Secondly it is important that students read the question – sounds dull and silly but how many students will be discussing disadvantages when nowhere in the question does it suggest this is necessary. However it does expect a student to “weigh up” – assess the relative importance of each advantage – so for students it is important to realise they should compare and contrast the values and their relative merits. So from the mark-scheme shown below – it maybe that in weighing up the advantages the student does suggest that staff morale is an advantage but not the most important as improving cost-effectiveness leads in fact to this advantage – with a following explanation. Finally remind students that if it says THREE then three is what the examiner is looking for – however I always recommend that if a student is unsure or believes two advantages seem similar that they state and discuss a fourth – as they will not be marked down.
Award  for each of three distinct correct points of discussion of three advantages to the manufacturer of operating a computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) system [3 max] per advantage, [9 max].
better working environment;
staff morale should be enhanced;
reduction of waste;
optimization of material wastage;
this can lead to more efficient use of raw materials;
cost-effectiveness of manufacture;
high set-up costs;
more cost-effective for high volume of production;
may be more consistent due to higher precision;
actual quality may be lower than with CIM; [9 max]
Example 2 – A question from Paper 2 : Explain three advantages of manufacturing the hammock frame with the technique of lamination. 
Again with this example the students should immediately underline the command term e.g. Explain – which according to the IB DT guide means give a detailed account of causes, reasons or mechanisms. Again THREE and only advantages are needed – but this does not need discussion or weighing up of issues but DETAILS to the reasons for each advantage. This is suggesting that students know technical terminology and are able to explain why – for these sort of questions I always suggest to students that a simple diagram can often help any explanation and often with something like lamination really helps them remember and then put down in words.
Award [3 max] for three advantages.
lamination does not require a solid piece of flawless timber;
it is constructed of thin strips of timber;
which can come from different trees;
laminated timber is strong;
due to the use of the adhesive;
between each layer;
lamination is cost-effective;
for various scales of production;
involving humans and/or machines;
lamination is suitable for curved shapes;
the strength of the glue helps to keep the shape;
by preventing springback;
laminated timber is durable outdoors;
as long as the adhesive is moisture resistant;
and a moisture resistant finish is regularly applied;
laminated timber has good strength to weight ratio;
which means it can be used for slender structures;
and so increases aesthetic appeal; [9 max]
So simply students should remember 3 things to enable them to avoid those silly mistakes :-
- Know there command terms
- Underline the important parts of a question
- Read the question carefully and only answer exactly what it says
- Oh and I nearly forgot – ASK for extra paper if they run out of space