Many IB students will feel that they have come through a bit of a gruelling time recently – all those exams in such a short period of time.  And let’s not talk about the Physics exam … Oh, but let’s (just for a quick moment)!!

After the first day of the physics exams this year, paper 1 and paper 2 had been completed.  And by the end of the day my students were telling me, with a sparkle in their eyes, that the papers were tough and paper 2 in particular, was awful. Well I am now marking paper 2 (HL) and it is fine – yes I know that many students will not like that statement, but it is.  Most of the questions are accessible if you have studied the course and the questions which are slightly crazy, are that way for everyone (there was only 1 paper this year i.e., no ‘time-zoning’) and so, (almost) no one will get them right – which means that are an irrelevance – they do not discriminate – so ignore them.

There is now 1 month of relaxation to go, so enjoy it.  Once the results come out, you then have a new set of problems but those are ones where you can have some measure of control.  The comparison between the IB and a national system (for example, A-Levels) is usually felt to not be a good one. Here however, the IB wins … big time! Once the results are out, if you have got into your university, that’s great well done – enjoy the rest of the summer break.  If you have not, then you need to look closely at your marks and consider them for remarks.  I am unsure of the stats for remarks, but they are not insignificant – there are mistakes that are made and remarking can get this sorted out.

This is where the IB has a real advantage – the results are out so early by comparison with other systems, so you have time to sort out any remarks and discuss possible options with the universities. This ‘time’ is something that A-Level students for example, simply do not have – so use it.

The Extended Essay (EE).  Look at your EE grade – if it was not as high as you and your teacher expected, consider a remark. This is probably only worth it if (1) going up a single grade would trigger an extra mark on the Diploma and (2) going down a single grade would NOT lower your Diploma mark.

The subject marks. Don’t forget that you are looking for mistakes here. Be honest with yourself – don’t just get everything remarks without thought. Your results will tell you how far away from the next grade up and down you are. It only makes sense to have a remark if you are close to the next grade up. I would say that ‘close’ means a couple of marks off. In physics, the remarking does not normally produce a change but when it does, it is usually only by 1 or 2.

If your grades are still too low after remarks, then pick up the phone and call the Admissions Officer for your course. They will usually be impressed with call and you can often talk your way in.  If not, then maybe suggest a different course they do, that is similar to the one you applied to – keep them talking about you – keep them thinking about options for you – you may find that they respond well and you are suddenly in.

And finally, do not forget that your school is there in the background, to provide help and guidance – use them.