OSC Study keeps getting better. Since we launched in March, we have been adding new features that deliver more value to teachers and students. At present, OSC Study offers coverage of 12 IBDP subjects, including thousands of flashcards and videos in addition to OSC revision guides.
We’re currently developing full IBDP authentic practice exams for SL and HL, initially in mathematics, with science subjects to be added soon after. These new exams are due to publish online in late 2021.
Why create our own exams?
The OSC Study app is already a key resource for students and teachers, providing coverage of all the concepts in the DP curriculum’s main subjects: the flashcards serve an important role in learning and revising with bite-sized questions; revision guides serve as a quick way to consolidate this material; the videos are helpful to anyone looking for detailed explanations.
Building an effective bridge from concept to practice is at the heart of the OSC Study app. But how do learners demonstrate that they are prepared to apply their subject knowledge? Putting students’ skills to the test in authentic IB exam contexts gives us that missing piece of the puzzle. In other words, doing well on a realistic exam validates the learning journey – it is the proof in the pudding. This is one reason why we wanted to create our own practice exams for IBDP Mathematics (Maths A&I SL and HL, Maths A&A SL and HL). The other reason is that, with the 2021 syllabus being so new, there is a limited number of resources of this type available for teachers and students. We’ll expand to include the natural sciences and add other subjects soon thereafter.
Realistic exams prepare for the real thing
The exams we are creating are in every way similar to official IB exams and resemble the papers that students will see in the May or November sessions. Our goal is to ensure that by using these authentic resources, they will feel well-prepared for the genuine experience of exam day. Similarly, teachers will be able to confidently use the exams in class for exam preparation. Based on our thorough analysis of syllabus coverage from all past exams, we ensure that our practice exams reflect the same weighting by topic and subtopic – we’re meticulous with the details, within papers and across papers. To make sure we get it right, we’ve even put together a dream team of content creators (see below).
- Official exams progress in difficulty, starting with accessible, then moderate and finally, discriminating questions. That is why we make Papers our starting point, not individual questions. Working with this gradient leads to a more genuine, IB-style experience. It also develops familiarity with short and long question formats.
- Every question is accompanied by a worked solution that is given step-by-step, showing students how to meet the challenge. This shows how marks can be obtained beyond simply getting to the correct answer.
- Exam questions will also provide a video solution, showing the step-by-step approach to solving, the use of the calculator and formula booklet, etc.
That’s for the nuts and bolts. The OSC Study app will of course flip things around and link exam questions to the concepts being tested. Users will be able to access:
- Questions by subtopic – At the most granular level, students can revise in context, first by checking their conceptual understanding, and then by attempting a linked exam question. This is useful preparation for quizzes and as a way to monitor progress.
- Questions by topic – As we zoom out, it will be possible to see all exam questions within a topic. This is ideal preparation for unit tests.
- Full exam – Zooming out one step further, it is important to view exams as paired papers. For example, Maths A&A SL consists of a Paper 1 and its matched Paper 2. Seeing them on a continuum helps students to appreciate how various Papers 1 may test different topics, but the combination of Papers 1 and 2 consistently amounts to full subject coverage. We take this into account.
We will preview exam features within the OSC Study app in more detail in our next blog, so watch this space.
Who is designing the questions?
We have been extraordinarily fortunate in putting together a dream team of 8 exam writers. As a group, they bring a tremendous amount of experience as teachers and thought leaders from across the IB world. They have served as senior examiners, subject advisors, and curriculum designers. Some are authors of IB resources and have published widely used maths textbooks (Oxford University Press, Pearson).
To achieve the highest possible standard, our writers work in pairs, so each question is reviewed several times and from all angles. Additionally, an independent review by a specialist with years of experience as a senior IB examiner confirms that our exams are “IB-worthy”.
When will exam practice be available and how much will it cost?
We are working hard to release the first set of IB exams for Maths A&A and A&I (SL/ HL) by the end of 2021. We will add more exams throughout 2022.
Exam practice will not come at an additional cost! Anyone who already subscribes to the OSC Study app will be able to access it as soon as it is released.
We will hold a series of webinars to unveil exam practice within the OSC Study app and detail what it means for teachers and students.
About the author, Mitch Campbell
Mitch is Canadian, and has worked as an IB physics and mathematics teacher since 2001, in addition to making hundreds of videos on his website, Studynova. Mitch has a B.Education as well as a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Ottawa, and an M.Sc. in Astrophysics from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. He joined Oxford Study Courses (OSC) as Managing Director in January, and works to support teachers and students in the IB, alongside OSC’s talented group of educators.