IB exams are not graded locally at your school. IB exams are marked by select few IB teachers
across the world known as “IB Examiners”. In order to standardize the process of scoring, the IB releases mark-scheme which guides all the the examiners across the world in evaluating your final IB exams.
Key components of the IB mark-scheme are:
Command terms are keywords placed in your IB questions. Each command term requires you to answer that question in a particular way. Every IB subject has its own unique set of command terms. Make sure to learn your command terms and corresponding answer structures.
It would take too much time for the IB to provide full answers to all its questions. Instead, they provide their IB Examiners with a list of keywords that they expect a student to use in answering a particular question. Missing keywords will lead to a lower score.
Similar to keywords, the IB expects you to use the right diagrams at the most appropriate times in your answers. Every diagram must be accompanied by a corresponding explanation.
Often overlooked, the style of writing answers is the key to getting a 7. Even though many students understand all the concepts and are confident of reproducing information in the exams, they are unable to achieve a score of 7 because they are not aware of the writing style required for that particular subject and paper type.
Especially in essay based questions, knowing what to write about is not enough. Every answer requires brainstorming, an outline, the right keywords and diagrams, and an appropriate writing style. You may know everything, but you may not be able to express it in the way the IB wants you to. This is most often the case for subjects like Economics, History, Literature, Language & Literature, and TOK.
The writing style includes answer organization, the depth and breadth of your analysis, arguments and counter-arguments provided, and a logical presentation of all your assertions with the appropriate choice of supporting evidence.
BONUS: THE COUNTER-ARGUMENT
Although not formally part of the IB mark-scheme, the counter-argument can be a very powerful tool in cementing a full score in subjects that are part of Individuals & Societies and TOK.
At the end of your answer, a well supported critique of a particular theory can be an excellent and audacious way of demonstrating not only your mastery of a subject, but also your ability to think from multiple points of view. Make sure to keep it relevant by tying it back to the IB question concerned.
Zeeshan Firasta is the founder of CRACK IB. He was valedictorian at Kodaikanal International School in 2008 achieving an IB score of 41/45 where he was awarded Best Economics HL student. He then went on to study Economics, Business Institutions and Integrated Marketing and Communications from Northwestern University (Kellogg School). He’s also successfully cleared a CFA Level 1 exam in the first attempt, and completed an MSc Finance degree from the Warwick Business School. Zeeshan was the first person in several years from his high school to get a full score in TOK. Since almost no IB teachers were former IB students themselves, Zeeshan is able to provide key insights and strategies in helping make each CRACK IB course solve the real issues faced by IB students and systematically help improve their IB scores.