As discussed before the examiners focused mostly in the subject report on the long answer questions of Paper 2 and Paper 3 with comments such as :-

” but few gained more than 6 marks due to lack of structure ‘explaining’ three advantages rather than just describing them.”

“As usual with extended response questions relating to three distinct issues, candidates who planned their answer carefully and set out the issues gained most marks.”

“Only a small number of candidates organised their response into three distinct aspects of the design…”

This highlights that students need to understand the command terms highlighted in the guide and then plan their answer – I always find it useful to give them a copy of the command terms and then test them on these. All you need to do is produce a sheet with the command terms on and ask students to write the definitions – trickier for most students than it seems. Below I have listed some of the more important ones that students can get confused about.

“Define  – Give the precise meaning of a word, phrase or physical quantity.

Distinguish  – Give the differences between two or more different items.

Outline –  Give a brief account or summary.

Analyse – Interpret data to reach conclusions.

Compare – Give an account of similarities and differences between two (or more) items, referring to both (all) of them throughout.

Discuss – Give an account including, where possible, a range of arguments for and against the relative importance of various factors, or comparisons of alternative hypotheses.

Evaluate – Assess the implications and limitations.

Explain – Give a detailed account of causes, reasons or mechanisms.”

IB DT Syllabus 2009

However the most important thing to do – it to get students to practice how to plan  answers. Often when practicing these questions it is more important to test their planning skills than writing the full answers as this should push them to structure their answer to gain maximum marks. I would also suggest to students that the amount of space given for these questions is very small and misleading that these parts of the questions get given 9 marks – so encourage students to plan in this space and then write there answers on separate sheets of paper.

So an example question – “Explain three advantages of using laminated timber to produce the Penguin Donkey.”

Should be planned so that a student then has three separate paragraphs with three sentences in each : –

  • Introduction
  • Point 1 – available in large sheet sizes; Mark 2 – so the curved components; Mark 3 – can be cut from one sheet;
  • Point 2 – good strength to weight ratio; Mark 5 – so the product is easy to move around; Mark 6 – and will be robust in use;
  • Point 3 – product is designed with tight curves; Mark 8 – laminated timber can be used in thin sections; Mark 9 – and bent around a former to produce the curves;
  • Conclusion – Summing Up

The more practice the better – and always tell students to avoid long paragraphs, waffly sentences and above ALL to PLAN their answers.