As mock exams are in full swing at the moment, the usual “Use of past papers” discussion once again rears its ugly, and frankly quite tiresome, head. For undersigned and an increasing number of teachers, the vote is over: don’t use past papers!

Do as I say

This is a particular question I’ve driven now for several years and my reasoning is quite simple: if we want to have a correct gauge of where our students stand we need to approach the mocks with as close to “live ammo” feeling as possible. The simple fact of the matter is that IB exam papers ultimately find their way out on the net. Yes, agreed, many colleagues use a “collage” of past papers (i.e. questions from an array of past years) but the only way to be sure about giving a true test of students’ skills is to make our own.

I often hear a counter-argument along the following lines; “So what if they have studied past papers?! If they download and basically commit to memory the past ten years of papers…that’s the same as studying, no?” Well, no. This is exactly the type of GIGO, bookish regurgitation method economists should avoid. We want our students to understand in order to apply – not memorise given scenarios. That is NOT how we should prepare our students for live exams.

The issue of the inadequacy of using past papers is now exacerbated by the new economics syllabus since 20% of the HL grade is Paper 3, calculations. Since there are so few past papers available, it rather narrows down the field of search for students – not to mention teachers putting together tests!

At this point in time, most colleagues are getting revision material together for the frantic last six or so weeks before live exams hit. I offer you a complete HL and SL exam paper complete with correctives. It bears saying that said correctives are in no way “all inclusive” and were never intended to be – anything reasonable/valid that merits marks is included in the “working version” I subsequently use with my students as we go through it.

Don’t want to give it all away!

Full exam paper + correctives