Guide to IB
This is a general guide to IB that explains how IB works, describing everything from the assessments at the end of senior year to the way sophomores usually choose their IB-level classes. It also explains most of the acronyms used in IB, such as EE, HL, or IOP. This guide was adapted from meeting notes from a Coffee Talk on 2/28/14 and updated in Summer of 2016.
An EA (External Assessment) is a written paper or exam (called Paper 1, 2, or 3) administered at St. Patrick’s Church during the month of May of senior year. Two or three EAs are administered in each subject: English, Sciences, Math, History, Psychology, Foreign Language, and Economics. Visual Arts seniors will submit studio work and participate in an art show display in spring of their senior year, but will not sit for an EA in May.
IAs (Internal Assessments) are also in every subject, starting with the English IOP (Internal Oral Presentation) fall of junior year, and others going through March of senior year. IAs can be 1200-1500 word essays, projects, or labs. IAs are completed in and outside of class time (after school or during Saturday School). Students may correct IAs and resubmit, if they are turned in on time. If turned in at the last moment, they won’t have that opportunity. Some IAs are only graded once. Many IAs are due around the same time before winter break, but were assigned months in advance.
IA papers and projects are graded by teachers. Initially, only scores are submitted to IB in Wales. IB will request a few specific names of students for RHS to send actual work samples of the high, medium and low scorers. IB will assess whether the IA scores are accurate. The difference a teacher is off, the entire class’s scores are moved higher or lower. There is a temptation for a teacher to grade too high, if that is the case, the whole class could be moved down. We monitor trends and takes appropriate action. Although IA scores go toward IB diploma points, some IA’s also go toward report card grades. Students will not see official IA grades until July 5th when they receive all their scores after graduation.
Core Components – CAS, EE, and TOK Essay
Also required to graduate are Core Components: completion and submission of CAS experiences and reflection (150 CAS hours: 25 Creativity, 25 Activity, 75 Service) completed in junior and senior year, the EE (Extended Essay-4000 word independent research paper-thesis), and the TOK Essay (Theory of Knowledge 1200-1500 word essay).
CAS is an acronym for Creativity, Activity, and Service. This is the term used in IB. On the first day of junior year, the 50 hour Integrated CAS Project (“Junior CAS Project”) may be started. These hours are included in the 150 total for junior and senior year. It is an activity that involves team work, planning and initiative, integrates two or more types of CAS activity (creativity, activity, service), and addresses an issue of global concern. A project proposal, display at the CAS Fair in the spring of junior year, 3 documented meetings with CAS Advisor (homeroom teacher), and written evidence and reflections of 8 Learning Outcomes are also required. CAS requirements must be completed and finalized in April of senior year.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
TOK is a class that starts 2nd semester of junior year, and continues through 1st semester of senior year. Here students get direction on how to do their Extended Essay (EE). They choose a Subject (English, History, Visual Arts, Other), an EE Advisor (IB teacher), a Topic, and a Research Question. The Topic may fall under a core subject, for example an Aerospace “Topic” may fall under a Physics or History “Subject”. Choose a topic you are passionate about so that it is fun and interesting, rather than just more work! The “Final Rough Draft” of the EE is due at the end of junior year, before summer. During the school year, advisors are available to meet with students regularly. Through the researching and writing process, TOK students should stay on top of deadlines and attend all scheduled meetings with their advisor, as they receive a report card grade for many of these assigned due dates (lower grade if not completed on time). The EE final draft has a due date that is assigned by the TOK teacher and the IB office. TOK Essay is due at end of first semester of senior year (approximate due date around middle of January).
Predicted grades are made up of 70-80% EAs and 20-30% IAs. During second semester, senior year teachers are asked to give predicted grades, as if the IB exams would be taken that day. Predicted grades are shared with students. The goal is to motivate the students, to see how close they are to earning an IB diploma. IB asks for official predicted grades in March. At this point, a new round of numbers will be entered, including all IAs.
In order to obtain an IB diploma, the basic requirements are: a minimum of 24 points, complete all Core Requirements and earn at least 12 points in HL courses. A student will receive a score of 1-7 in each of their 6 IB courses. A score is comprised of both IA (20-30%) and EA (70-80%) scores. A student can earn 7 points for each of their 6 classes, plus 1-3 points may be added (but not to HL) for A, B, and C averages on EE and TOK essays, making a total of 45 possible points.
SL/HL Selection (Standard Level/ Higher Level)
In January of sophomore year, students make their DP (Diploma Program-junior and senior years) class selections in the 6 subject areas: English, Foreign Language, History, Math, Science, and an Elective (Visual Arts, Economics, Psychology, or a 2nd SL level Science). HL English and SL Foreign Language are required, so that leaves 2 HL and 2 SL choices to make. When choosing HL and SL classes, students and famlies should take into account factors such as student interest, the course curriculum, and the instructor teaching the class.
Colleges look for a combination of grades in challenging classes, scores on SAT/ACT, and students’ involvement in activities outside of school. At Robinson, sports can take a lot of the students’ time, with volleyball, soccer, and flag football being more rigorous, as is band and Starlets. Coaches and teachers are generally sensitive to the competing demands on the students involved in sports and other demanding activities. We are aware that it is important to have well-rounded students. We recognizes that participation in these extracurricular activities helps create a healthier and more motivated student.
Robinson offers incoming freshman immersion classes in French and Spanish. We also provide a summer “IB Success Camp” with focus on introducing curriculum, study skills and successful time management for incoming 9th graders. In addition to doing summer assignments, summer is a great time to get CAS hours completed, do college essays, apply for scholarships, and go on college visits. Note: you may request an Excused Absence to visit colleges during school hours, so that class work can be turned in late without reduction in grade. Also, many colleges send admissions representatives to conduct presentations at Robinson. Sign-up for these presentations is on the bulletin board in the Guidance office. There are no scheduled trips to tour college campuses.
Going Beyond 4 Years
Due to their many IB and AP credits, many IB students enter college with 30 credit hours. If they pass 6 exams (4 or above on IB, 3 or above on AP), that may be 6 classes that they do not have to take in college. Some students enter public universities with sophomore status. They can use the extra year of Bright Futures (have 4 years total) to fund graduate work. Students will already be accepted to college by the time IB diploma grades are posted July 5th, but most kids are still motivated to do well on IB exams to try to get their diploma. An IB diploma looks great on graduate school applications, and to future employers.