The IB coordinator notes for September contain some significant alterations to the new Business Management guide (first assessment 2016) that affect the Standard Level internal assessment, Paper 1 (the pre-seen case study) and Paper 2, section A.

  • An updated version of the Business management guide, relevant student samples and specimen papers are available on the OCC to reflect the following changes.


A problem regularly faced by moderators is that students submit their commentary without attaching the supporting documents (SDs). In some cases they are simply absent and, in others, the student supplies the URLs for the documents, expecting the moderator to look at these websites. The penalty for not attaching documents was not necessarily explicit in the assessment criteria, although the examiner session reports have noted on many occasions that the omission is likely to affect criteria A, C and E. The new guidance in the coordinator notes makes the rules and consequences clearer, although it is not obvious whether the reduction in the case of submitting URLs will also be zero for criteria A and C, which would be logical:

  • Candidates are to be awarded zero for criteria A and C if no supporting documents are attached.
  • Web page URLs are not acceptable as a replacement of attaching the SDs to the SL IA submission. If URLs are submitted instead of attaching the SD(s), moderators will only award marks based on the material submitted. It is likely that this will result in a reduction of marks for criteria A and C.

Paper 1 Case study

The changes to the pre-seen case study and Paper 1 are significant and must not be overlooked. The changes probably reflect the view that too many students had pre-prepared answers that they have used in the Paper 1 examination without potentially considering the exact questions asked. Prior to the examination session, the pre-seen case study is dissected on many forums and in revision materials and teachers delight in predicting questions! This changes will make this more difficult:

  • A different pre-seen case study will be used for May and November sessions that will be released three months in advance of the examination.
  • Pre-seen material will be shorter, focusing on describing the case study organization and its situation.
  • More comprehensive additional stimulus will be provided on the day of the examination in Sections B (SL/HL) and C (HL only), providing new information on the organization’s situation and decisions it is facing.


  • Section A: Students answer two out of three structured questions, based on the pre-seen material (previously three out of four).
  • Section B: Students answer one compulsory structured question, based mainly on the additional stimulus material.
  • Section C (HL only): Students answer one compulsory structured question, based mainly on the additional stimulus material. HL extension topics may be assessed in this section

There can be an overlap between SL and HL questions and additional stimulus Sections A and B questions. The additional stimulus at HL may be the same as, similar to, or different from, that used for the SL paper.

Total marks (due to one less question being answered in Section A):

  • SL: 40 marks
  • HL: 60 marks

Weighting of the paper:

  • SL: 30% (increasing the weighting of paper 2 to 45%)
  • HL: 35%

Paper 2

The rationale for these changes is to allow students to spend more time on the extended, concept based questions on paper 2, so as to raise their profile.

HL and SL paper 2: to allow students additional examination time for the section C extended response question, section A will change as follows:

  • SL and HL section: The questions may require: knowledge and understanding: application and analysis; and a variety of appropriate skills (evaluation and synthesis is removed from the demands of questions)
  • Marks for questions in section A (due to one less evaluative question being answered) – SL and HL: 10 marks
  • Section A total marks (due to one less evaluative question being answered) – SL and HL: 10 marks
  • Total marks (due to one less evaluative question being answered in section A):
    • HL: 70 marks
    • SL: 50 marks

The new specimen papers are now on the OCC.

Update 5th October: other important changes

The September coordinator notes reported that a copy of the formulae sheet would not be provided to students for the examination and that schools should not provide a copy of the formulae sheet to students for the examination. However, The IB has now reviewed this instruction in light of feedback from schools.

This is the message that was sent to IB coordinators:

The September 2015 edition of Coordinator’s notes states that from first assessment May 2016 schools should not provide a copy of the formulae sheet to candidates for the business management examinations. After consideration of feedback received from schools, this decision has been withdrawn. Therefore, schools should continue to provide each candidate with a clean copy of the formulae sheet for standard level and higher level papers 1 and 2. This change will be included in the next update of the subject guide (scheduled for November 2015) with additional confirmation in the next Coordinator’s notes. The IB would like to thank teachers for expressing their views on the availability of the formulae sheet.