I have three weeks left before school starts and I have not had a clear break yet – a few days here and there, but nothing where I can just relax and worry about, well … nothing at all.

A few days ago I finished remarking another two Physics HL Paper 2 scripts and I was struck by the following questions:

  1. How many remarks are there going to be?  In physics, the papers rarely change that much. Most scripts have a zero change and the odd few go up or down by 1 or 2 at the most. So what is the point?

In answering this question, it is obvious that a grade can swing on a single point, hence the remark request. However, when I look at many of the remarks, they are for scripts that have in some cases, almost no answers – the student have given (in exam speak) ‘NR’ – No Response. These are very easy to mark of course, but I am again left thinking … what is the point?

  1. Why are these scripts coming in so late? The results have been out now, for around 4 weeks – so why does it take so long to work out that someone wants a remark?

I am often commenting to my students that the person who should be working hardest in the lab is the student, not me. The person who has the most vested interest in the results is of course, the student (although as a parent myself, having been through this ‘trial’, it feels like I was far more anxious and invested, than either of my two children!).

When the results come out, I expected that students would take the results, work out where this puts them – are they now in university, or did they not make it? And then work through the process of sensible remarks. Hence the idea that if a remark is needed, it will be done quickly. So why wait 4 weeks??

Alongside the above questions, and as someone who has been/is a PE and TL for the IB, I am happy there are almost no changes to the remarks. The ideal is that there are no changes at all. And this is where the majority of remarks end up in my experience of physics – no change. As above, there are a few minor changes (which I accept, might be important for a student), but in the main, it suggests that the examiners did a good job and got it right, first time through. That also means that the PE and Team Leaders also did their job right – everyone is happy … except maybe the student, who wanted more marks.

If students every ask me about going for a remark, I usually remind them that this is not a second bite of the cherry – we hope that the remark comes out as ‘no change’ … because that means the examiner did a good job. The students understand the idea, but their face tells a different story!

Of course, if a student did poorly, the best way to get extra marks would have been to work harder when they were actually studying the subject.

So I am hoping now, that it is over – all the remarks are done and students got what they deserve.