Question 4 on HL Paper 3 requires specific references to secondary research and primary investigations. Let’s take some sample responses and place them in order of detail about who, when, what, and findings.

1. Weak: “Some companies offer control panels for XYZ…”

This could be an introductory sentence, but the next sentence needs to provide details. For example,  ‘In an news article about XYZ, the company ALCO produces a control panel that…’

2. Better: “A company in XYZ, Nest, offers devices for…”

It is better if the name of the company is provided. A company is too vague.

3. Best: Write in first person using phrases such as I, our class, …and describe who, what, where, when and findings. For example, when our class visited the ALCO company in Nest, the general manager of sales indicated that 50% of the smart home products that are sold are designed to…

Personal experiences are memorable and details should be included to indicate that the student actually actively engaged by providing:

  • the name of the company
  • the position of the person who met with the group (students may not recall the name of the person unless they are well know for some reason)
  • what was actually done and seen including demonstrations
  • specific problems and solutions that emerged
  • details of an class hands-on activity, etc.

Strategy for HL Paper 3 Study

HL Paper 3 requires studying past resources, notes and any personal investigations and just before the HL Paper 3 exam. Students may recall some information from discussions that took place 8-9 months earlier, but these may not be on the forefront of their thinking.
It is a good idea to prepare a simple table or a Google spreadsheet as part of the approach to studying for the exam. The table can be a simple record of:
  • What: what the specific item was that was experienced i.e. discussed, visited, tried out, demonstrated, presented.
  • Category of investigation (article, hands-on, video, visit, presentation, etc.),
  • Who key person and their position and other primary stakeholders,
  • Important findings related to the case study
  • Problems and solutions in the particular scenario

The order of the items in the table could be sequential as they took place and then re-arranged so that similar items are grouped together. It is log of all of the investigations, notes and articles with annotations.

It may seem to be late to be constructing since most students are already beginning exams. However, this could easily be a Google spreadsheet that is setup with the major items for the review. The students can collaboratively add notes to it as they study. They can also post questions as well and a column could be made for these entries.

A second Google spreadsheet with terminology and phrases is also recommended and can be reviewed before the exam. The names of notable devices and technologies can be included as examples. Three columns that would be useful in this spreadsheet: terminology/phrase, meaning/description, examples. Sometimes terminology is mistakenly seen as isolated vocabulary, when in fact phrases are often more useful in writing responses.

These two online spreadsheets could organize the approach to the preparation for HL Paper 3, be collaborative review activities for the students and an opportunity where the teacher can go in and add comments and replies.

Final advice: include detail in the responses. It is more interesting to read and results in higher marks.