• Tips to give to students on how to maximise their marks on each of the three exam papers
  • Specific details of areas of difficulty on Papers 2 & 3 and how to teach your students to overcome them
  • Fun ways of understanding objectives and using command terms
  • Full explanation of grade descriptors and grade boundaries
  • Examples of new questions with worked answers for experimental work on Section A on Paper 3
  • Advice and new questions with worked answers to prepare your students for data response questions on Section A on Paper 3
  • Full details on the whole examination process from how the exams are written to how they are marked and graded
  • Advice on how to arrive at predicted grades
  • Why your feedback on the G2 forms is important
  • Information and advice on Enquiry upon Results (EUR) and retakes

Introduction to External Assessment

We have come a long way since Henry Armstrong made the following statement:

“When Prof. Ayrton and I were appointed the first professors of the City and Guilds of London Institute we found ourselves in complete agreement that we would have nothing to do with teaching for examinations.

I am proud to say that the programmes of the Guild’s Colleges have never been disfigured by references to examinations as objects to be kept in view by students.”

Henry E.Armstrong
(Science Progress,1886)

Rightly or wrongly the examinations now have a central role in most (all?) teachers' and students' lives. The syllabus is written so that it is clear what can be examined (NoS, Understandings, Applications and skills and perhaps International-mindedness) and the exams are written using command terms which are commensurate with the level of objective being tested. The pressure is heavily on students to achieve certain high grades in order to continue into higher education.

This part of the Website looks at every aspect of external examinations. The first section on Essential facts defines precisely the meaning of command term and explains the different levels of objectives. It covers grade descriptors and explains how the component grade boundaries and overall grade boundaries are arrived at together with figures giving the percentage of students attaining each grade. The next three sections then look at each of the three written papers in turn with concrete advice to give to students as to how to prepare for the exams and what the common pitfalls in each paper are. Examples of brand new questions together with the worked answers are given for the Section A part of Paper 3 covering data response and experimental work are provided.  Finally there is a section on the whole examination process. This includes how the paper is actually written, marked, moderated and graded followed by advice on how to give predicted grades and feedback on the exams to the IB and when and how to apply for a remark.

Selected Pages


Retaking the exam 22 October 2018

Hopefully this should not be necessary but there are always a few students each session who are retaking the Chemistry exam....


Setting the exam papers 18 October 2018

The paper setting team is made up of the Chief Examiner, Deputy Chief Examiners and some Senior Examiners. About three years...


The examination process 18 October 2018

Although not perhaps of much interest to students it can be helpful to teachers to know how the whole examination process...

Paper 2 9 January 2019

An example of an e-marking box

Essential Facts 1 December 2018

The external assessment is made up of three separate examination papers. These make up 80% of the final mark upon which...

FAQs 22 October 2018

1. What happens if a student answers questions from more than one of the options on Paper 3?The answer depends on whether...

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