Hello to all you Chemistry teachers out there.

‘R’ day is nearly with us (in the Northern Hemisphere or May session schools anyway)  Good luck with your results …. I hope your students performances are in line with what you were expecting.

If you are a May session teacher, chances are you are on holiday now (I hope it is nice and relaxing), which means my posts are not going to be on teaching styles or lab work or the subject material as this is probably as far from your mind as it is all year!

I did think I would give you an insight into how the exam papers are marked today and then later, in part two, how lab work (internal assessment) is moderated.

So, your students sat papers 1 and 2, followed by paper 3 the next day. What happens next?


This image was kindly taken from wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_100348.jpg). If there is aproblem with copyright, please contact me and I will remove it.

Well, your DP coordinator would have dutifully packed the papers and securely sent them to the IB. Once they are with the IB they are separated into the six categories (HL P1, HL P2, HL P3, SL P1, SL P2, SL P3).

The paper 1 answers are put through an OMR (Optical Marking Reader). This machine scans the P1 responses and is able to figure out which answer the student is referring to (it is the same sort of machine that reads your lottery choices!)  If it cannot read a question or if it thinks two or more answers have been selected for the same question, the machine will flag the problem and a human being will intervene and make the decision by looking at the answer paper.

Papers 2 and 3 are scanned and the images put onto a data base. The IB uses a system called SCORIS (try as hard as I might , I cannot find out what SCORIS stands for!)

SCORIS is used by a number of other exam boards as well as the IB (OCR in the UK for example).

The scanned papers are then e-marked, much in the same way as you would have paper marked in the past. SCORIS allows you to ‘tick’, ‘cross’, annotate and even send the paper onto your team leader if there is a problem with it.

However, in order to mark the paper you must first ‘qualify’ for marking. Examiners are given five pre-marked papers that need to be marked. If your marking is withing tolerance you are cleared to start live marking. If you are out of tolerance in one or more of the first five papers you will need to mark a second batch of five papers. And if you are out of tolerance again? It is likely you will not be able to mark any papers for the session in question.

That is not the end of the process though. Approximately, every 20 scripts are ‘seeded’. A seed is another pre-marked script. The examiner is not able to tell the seed from the regular papers. Once the seed is marked, the examiners mark is compared to the ‘real’ mark and feedback is given.

If the examiner is out of tolerance, the examiner must check the seed with their marks to see where they have gone wrong.

If the examiner is out of tolerance with a second seed they are locked out of marking, pending a discussion with their team leader.

And if it happens a third time? Again, it is likely that the examiner will not be able to mark again for that respective session.

I hope this is useful to you. The process of seeding is really good in keeping the quality of marking consistent. It makes it harder for the examiner but is fairer for the students.

Next time, my post will focus on IA moderation.