Unpacking the mark scheme

Knowing how to interpret a mark scheme and how to use it as a tool to help test taking is an important skill. Rather than telling the students the do’s and don’t, I used this think – see – wonder routine from the Visible Thinking Project  to assist them in making their own careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. Their interpretations provide a rich context for the discussion that followed,

The students found this routine helpful because it provided a focus for thinking about why the mark scheme is the way it is. It also served as a motivator. My students always want to know how they can strengthen their performance!

After completing a set of past paper problems and marking their responses using the IB mark scheme my standard level students used the think – see – wonder routine as a reflective tool.

What do you notice or ‘see’? I see  . . .

What does it make you think about? I think  . . .

What are you wondering about? I wonder . . . 

Students voices

I see . . . .

that the mark scheme uses specific scientific terminology relevant to the topic and its answers.

that the marks scheme is very precise at some points.

state symbols are needed.

subject specific terminology is essential.

I have redundant information in some of my answers.

that answers need to be worded in a specific way.

that they are key words that need to be included in an answer. They are underlined or in bold

I did not answer every part of a question

that I need to provide more detail in my answers

I think . . . .

that the wording of an answer is very important in order to gain full marks.

this year I will have a better understanding of what the exam questions will be like

I need a lot of practice with past paper questions

I need to answer clearly and be brief and to the point.

I need to keep in mind the number of points and the command terms

I understand the concepts well

I wonder . . .

whether the wording of the question is as important as the content.

how vital language is.

how I can get more comfortable with using specific terminology.

if in an exam paraphrases will be accepted and how close my answers have to be to the mark scheme.

if vague explanations might also earn points.

I wonder whether marks can be awarded for answers with different wording but the same idea

how I can make my answers more specific.

if identical ideas can be expressed differently

what is needed for full points








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