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Keep calm and external assessment on!

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

With the May 2015 examination session beginning next week, students, coordinators and teachers are in the final stretches of the school year (congrats, you all are almost there!) For seniors, it has been a full two years of IB studies that have led to the culmination of these final exams. For juniors, they are getting their first taste of IB External Assessments (EA) and are looking forward to successfully getting one year of the program under their belt. I can remember this time so distinctly. By this point, much of my heavy study preparation had subsided and I took the weekend prior to a Monday exam to engage lightly with the material and host any last minute group study sessions with my classmates on that Friday night.  After my first round of exams as a first-year IB student, I learned the value of mental rest very quickly. As I prepared for senior EAs I made sure to incorporate adequate and balanced rest time into my routine. This left me feeling more refreshed and clear of mind for the upcoming string of exams.

Looking back on those times, I realized that scoring well and rest did not work in isolation as confirmed by 2014 research done at the University of Texas—Austin. Graduate student Margaret Schlichting, and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Alison Preston conducted a study to test how memory is impacted by the “type” of rest your brain does. Their research found that participants who took rest time to reflect on what they had learned earlier in the day fared better on memory tests that were given later. They were able to absorb the new information better and incorporate it into their existing knowledge. IB students work extremely hard throughout the year to prepare for these exams thus, it is important that they get the necessary active rest they need to stay sharp while not adding any extra stress on their off-exam days.

For students with later exams during the second and third weeks of assessments, here are a few preparation techniques that I found helpful when thinking ahead:

  1. Complete past paper questions and revise/correct them using mark schemes.
  2. Continue to hold review sessions with classmates to give students the opportunity to teach and learn from each other while enjoying social interaction during the process!
  3. Avoid studying haphazardly. Scoring high on IB assessments is very feasible when students refer back to the syllabi and answer questions according to assessment criteria.

Good luck everyone, may the IB force be with you!


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