Sir_Thomas_More_Hand_DSo…the PROCESS PORTFOLIO.

In recent student blogs I have discussed:

…so am posting today about the Process Portfolio.

I had the opportunity to talk with some of the senior PP examination team when we gathered at the IB Assessment Centre.

These examiners spent many hours looking through PP files submitted for the last examination session, and I gained some great insights into some PP issues through these conversations.

I have summarized some of the things we discussed – there were five areas in particular that seemed useful and interesting


In May I posted Everything you wanted to know about your PP and your VAJ (but were afraid to ask)

My conversations with PP examiners confirmed that the relationship between the PP and the VAJ cannot be underestimated.

In terms of overlaps between the journal and the PP, one examiner stated that where a journal page shows good levels of achievement in the PP criteria, students should simply include that page as a screen in their PP.

The only reason for transcribing this would be if the writing was not legible. A full size, unedited reproduction of a successful page is fine.

He expressed some concern that some students seem to have spent a lot of time (possibly too much) and energy designing many PP screens. Some PP screens looked like the pages of a professional design document; in some cases it seemed that more time and effort had been spent on page design than on the visual and written content.

Presentation is relatively important but should not become more important than PP content – i.e. what the PP is trying to say and show:

  • The journal, if used effectively, is an integral part of art-making practice and is likely to contain the best evidence for use in the process portfolio.
  • Every page completed in the journal is a potential PP screen.

2 WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE (“All mouth and trousers”)

I was talking to another of the PP examiners one evening, asking how the day had been.

She answered that she had seen quite a lot of work that was “all mouth and trousers”.

What she meant by this was seeing screens that described the student’s plans, wishes, ideas and intentions – but showed little visual evidence of these intentions – no paintings, photographs, drawings etc.

Of course it’s easy to write about what media or forms you plan to use or have used, but examiners must see evidence to be able to assess the outcomes against the criteria and to give credit for you the working in the minimum required number of forms.

Examiners need to see visual evidence, and this kind of thorough documentation of the artmaking process was lacking in some cases.

The examiner wondered if some images had been excluded because some students (or teachers) were cautious of including too much imagery that was too close to the final exhibited version of the work (the “double-dipping” restriction).

SHOW the examiner what you are talking about – don’t just describe it!


The examiner is looking for an explanation of how your first ideas and intentions form and develop, showing how technical skills, media and ideas have been assimilated to develop the work further.

But some students seemed to have only started discussing their ideas and intentions after the process of realising the artwork as a resolved piece was underway (or was even finished). By then the initial idea has passed…

Also sometimes students may have felt their starting points were too ‘messy’ to include in the PP. This communication of ideas can take many forms, and some may be a little untidy – for example, initial brainstorming using concept webs, mind maps etc. – but these can really help examiners understand the starting points for work.

“Presentation” does not mean that you cannot include vital early stage starting points, or even evidence of false-starts and dead ends.

font colour


Ideally most ideas for artwork come from you – rather than your teacher!

On the other hand the teacher’s job is to teach, so it’s important that he/she does give you assignments that give you experience of techniques, skills and ideas.

Prescriptive assignments are frequently appropriate during the first year, but these are not the best practice for when you are preparing for final assessment

You need to be able to formulate your own ideas and to develop these ideas into artworks.legibility


Examiners will try to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Many examiners are also art teachers and will try to understand what the student is trying to achieve, but even if they are not teachers they will still do their best to see what the student is trying to show.

However, in some cases the examiner found it hard and sometimes impossible to even read what had been written.

Sometimes this was because of poor or tiny handwriting but in other cases the writing was digital, but the font was too intricate, or was on a ‘busy’ background, or was in orange on a red background (etc).

Sometimes the resolution was too low to allow for effective zooming in.

In other cases pages shifted in orientation.

Make it easy for your examiner to give you marks.



Journal page from one of my students.

Handwriting (probably Shakespeare’s)