Well, after a couple of years of waiting and speculation the new subject guide has been finally released for first examinations in May 2016. If you have not yet got a copy, you may get one from the OCC [at the time of writing this was still the pre-publication guide].

The next few blog posts will focus on individual aspects of the guide – in other words, ‘the new stuff’ but for the moment, here is an overview of some of the more major changes as well as a summary of the minor changes:

1, Internal assessment (IA)

IA has been radically overhauled. So much so, the new marking criteria and assessment model are unrecognisable from the current version. I intend focussing one (or two or three) more posts on this and am therefore keeping  my comment to a minimum.

2, The introduction of the nature of science (NOS)

As teachers, we have a responsibility  to ensure that we place chemistry in context with the other sciences. We are also responsible for the fact that all sciences are put in context with the other IB subjects students study.

With this in mind, the NOS was developed. It will form the backbone of the biology, chemistry and physics IB courses.

3, The introduction of mandatory lab skills.

The new guide has a new IA that is radically different from the last (more on this below) but in order to stop good lab programmes being a thing of the past, mandatory abs or mandatory lab skills have been introduced. There are 10 in total and they are all tucked away in the guide – can you find them?! This is actually a good move by the IB and they should be applauded for quite a bold move. Tat the moment there seems to be a growing body of teachers who think that there more than 10 should been included but this is certainly a move in the right direction.

4, The options.

The number of options has been reduced from seven to four:

  • Materials
  • Biochemistry
  • Energy
  • Medicinal chemistry

But, only one option needs to be taught. Each option contains the following parts:

  • Quantitative Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry.

The recommended teaching time for the SL option is 15 hours (which stays the same) and 25 hours for HL (it used to be 22 hours).

5, The syllabus

The syllabus has been changed, although it is more of a tweak than a sea change (you couldn’t really change it all, could you?). I do intend to focus more on this in a later blog post, to help with your curriculum planning ….. so watch this space.

6, External assessment

  • The number of external examinations is stays the same although the overall percentage of final mark from external examinations has increased (from 76% to 80%).
  • There will be an an equal number of assessment objective 1 & 2 questions and assessment object 3 questions in paper 1.
  • All paper 2 questions are compulsory
  • There will be a data based question and experimental techniques question in paper 3 (as well as one question on the one option studied)
  • All three examination papers will also teach an aspect of the nature of science (NOS).

These changes are the more major ones, but there have also been minor changes made to parts of the course such as the teaching times, the layout of the subject guide, the aims and the learning objectives.

So, as you can see, there are a number of fairly significant changes that have completely refreshed the course for 21st century teaching and learning – I think it is fair to say the changes were necessary and the new guide now looks exciting to teach.

As ever, if you do have any questions, concerns or comments, I would be very pleased to read them below.