For the first time at Convent and Stuart Hall, Advanced Placement exams were not the only cumulative assessments seniors took in May. For three weeks, 28 seniors in the International Baccalaureate Programme took exams for each class to determine if they would receive the IB diploma.
Reading Week — the week before IB exams, called “papers” — allowed IB students to study uninterrupted by regular classes and classwork, according to IB Coordinator Devin DeMartini Cooke.
“Reading Week is to allow students to really have the time to review and to meet with teachers and ask questions,” DeMartini Cooke said. “We asked that all new instruction be completed by Friday, April 20, which gave students a full week before their papers to review and to not be learning material, so classes aren’t competing for time or brain space.”
Reading Week is not mandated by the IB program, but is necessary to fully comprehend the two-years worth of material the program tests on, according to IB senior Olivia Matthes.
“Given the tests are on stuff over the course of two years, it is nice to have a break from normal classes to review,” Matthes said. “Time to just process, review and reflect on the two years is necessary for a test that spans over this big amount of time.”
Unlike most AP tests that are usually completed in one sitting, every IB exam spans over a few days each.
“IB tests are broken up over multiple days and multiple sections,” DeMartini Cooke said. “In IB English HL, they have a Paper One that’s two hours on one afternoon. The next morning, students will have a second portion of the exam that’s another two hours. So it is a four-hour test, but it’s broken up.”
IB Papers also require a different approach than AP tests, according to IB senior Katie Thomis.
“You have to get your brain to think in a different way,” Thomis said. “In an AP test, you focus more on memorization and getting specific facts in. Because IB tests are focused on essays, you focus less on specific facts and more on a general understanding.”
The class of 2018 is the first class of Convent & Stuart Hall graduates to participate in the program.
“IB was definitely a challenge, at moments I really regretted doing it,” Matthes said, “but now that I’m at the end, I definitely see the value of the way [the program] wants you to learn and how all of the subjects connect and intertwine.”