Review of IB exams

Review of the IB exams

Group IV science (Environmental Systems and Societies, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) teachers gathered together today from around the region to review the IB exams that our students sat this past May.  We each had taken time to work the exams beforehand and then came together to analyze the questions and determine the value and quality of each question. Five different international schools were represented.

The biology teacher from the host school led us to his lab where he had set up a large table for us to gather around.  We pulled out the exam papers and immediately set to work.  The atmosphere was cheerful, lively and very collaborative.

Initially, when I had previewed the exams, they seemed good and fair to me.  I had scrutinized each question from a teachers's perspective,  to determine whether all content had been sufficiently covered and whether there were any surprizes for my students.  I was satisfied that the students had been equipped to answer all the questions.   However, as I listened to my colleagues attack each question from the standpoint of students, my eyes were opened.  Suddenly I envisioned each of my pupils pondering the questions and instantly new perceptions filled my mind.  I realized that though my students might have been equipped with the content, there was, indeed, some ambiguity in a few of the questions that might have prevented them from knowing what to write.   It was actually enjoyable to approach the exam questions from this stance and to document our input.  The group will submit our report to the IB and then we each individually will have a chance to logon to the IB site and record our personal impressions of the exams.  The IB takes our input seriously and if enough teachers place doubt on a particular question, it can be thrown out.  Participating in such an activity is satisfying and is somehow empowering as you feel like you’re contributing to a greater process.  It’s kind of like voting.  You research the issues, you put forth the effort to go out and vote and then you feel good.

Additionally, the process has given me additional respect for the IB process and the IB education.  Any other IB teachers out there that have taken a formalized approach to the exam review? Or have any exam review experiences to share?