This month saw the examiner’s report released from the May IB exams. This is a much anticipated document that your teacher’s user to aid their teaching – so even though your teachers may not directly refer to it, they will (hopefully) use it.

That said, the aim of this article is to make you more aware of some of the recommendations that come from it. The report comments on (amongst other things) the questions that students had difficulty answering and how students performed in the internal assessment (IA).

There are actually two examiners report –one for time zone 1 (TZ1) and another for time zone 2 (TZ2). TZ1 covers the Americas; TZ2 covers the rest of the world (Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Australasia).

In the TZ1 paper 2, students has difficulty answering questions on writing a balanced equation for the reaction between calcium carbonate and sulfuric acid, calculating activation from the slope of ln k against 1/T, Identifying a dative covalent bond, explaining why copper is not used in electrolysis of water, explaining why some salt solutions are acidic, basic or neutral.

And in the TZ2 paper 2, students, interestingly had difficulties with other concepts, such as uncertainties, explaining delocalization, describing of metallic bonding, writing hypotheses and finding the activation energy of a reaction from a graph.

What you need to do as a student is to see if you understand these concepts. Some of them are difficult concepts (for example, finding the activation energy of a reaction from a graph) but others are more straightforward (for example, writing a balanced equation).

Why? Well, if students globally are struggling with these ideas, this may set your work out from the next and it may help you to gain those extra couple of points you need and tip your final grade into the next grade band. The extra effort now could really be worth it in the long term.

I have addressed IA in other blog posts but I do think it is worth highlighting as well what the chief examiner felt needed more improvement:

Design aspect 2 – controlling the variables. Students commonly failed to identify methods to control or monitor the control variables that they had earlier identified as needing controlling. A good tip here is, if you are typing up the work, to use different font colours in design aspect 1 for each controlled variable. In aspect 2, every time you mention a controlled variable, use the same colour font to show it as you did for aspect 1 – this should allow you (and your teacher and the moderator) to cross reference the respective variables.

Data Collection and Processing aspect 1 – the collection of quantitative and qualitative data. Students still forget to completely satisfy aspect 1, both quantitative data (in other words, numbers) and qualitative data (in other words, observations) need to be recorded. Nearly every experiment you carry out will have some sort of qualitative data and it is very easy to overlook this.

I hope that these tips are useful –why not ask your teacher to see more of the document?

If you do have any specific questions, please feel free to post them below and I will get back to you with an answer.

Until next time!