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Let's discuss about "Petition"

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This will be a viral topic for you guys to discuss about because of the recent incidents on the exam papers of May 2016. 

First of all, before I would like to say anything, I have heard a lot of rumors of what happened in the Physics Exam, and I am really sorry to those who really suffered a traumatic experience especially in Physics Paper 2. However, recently, another petition has surfaced on the internet for Biology HL / SL Papers too, claiming that IB has departed from their regular exam patterns. These questions / concerns began to appear in my mind. Although, this could be a personal opinion that may not agree with your stance.

  1. Do you think petition will be used as a tool to argue with IB to lower the grade boundary?
  2. Should IB be challenging for the students in order to differentiate who are the top percentage of students that is confident and aced the exam?
  3. If petition is used in every single exam afterwards, what may happen? Will we actually start a trend for future students to start a petition whenever there is a difficult paper?

Sources: 

 

Edited by inriya

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Guest SNJERIN

First of all, exams are always difficult. That is non-negotiable. In fact, exams should be hard because that is the only possible way to differentiate between students in terms of academic performance. If the physics exam ( or chemistry and biology) were easy then everyone will do well and feel happy. But then the grade boundaries will be high and so we are back to the same problem, which is that only a minority of students will get the top grades, a 7. 

According to my IB chemistry teacher, which happens to be a senior examiner, almost every year about the same percentage of students get the different grade levels. There has been not a single year in which 50% got 3 in a subject or 50% got a 7. In other words, the percentage of students getting a particular grade is fixed irrespective of the difficulty index of the exams. 

Secondly, IB do not really consult students about how hard or easy an exam is, rather, they discuss these issues with examiners, so all this petition thing, in my opinion, is a waste of time. 

Edited by Haitham Wahid

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It is not my place to judge, because I don't take physics HL. However, I think the Biology paper was really reasonable. There is nothing that I can complain. It is my fault that I didn't study, not the IB's fault.

 

I mean, we have the syllabus. Even though the syllabus is rather vague, it does tell us what we are supposed to know. So we shouldn't complain just because the paper was hard....  Unless the paper consists of things that are not in the syllabus, which is not the case in biology. 

 

I can only speak for biology. It is a little bit ridiculous that bio students are trying to lower the grade boundary by launching a petition when the paper was perfectly fine. It is easier than the specimen paper for sure !

Edited by Guest

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the petition won't do anything

the grade boundaries will be lowered cause its based on a bell curve, it always has been on a bell curve so if everyone fails, no one does...

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1 hour ago, Lovelife said:

It is not my place to judge, because I don't take physics HL. However, I think the Biology paper was really reasonable. There is nothing that I can complain. It is my fault that I didn't study, not the IB's fault.

 

Actually, that was what I was thinking while writing this. I was worried that people will abuse "Petition" in the future.  Abuse is the right word. 

On a more personal note, I took Biology HL myself and was surprised that people actually started a petition. The specimen paper was a bit out of topic, but comparing it to past papers (I did from 2009 to 2015 May+ November Papers for Paper 1,2), it wasn't that hard. Paper 3 is new, so students should expect something about it in order to be prepared (at least, in my case, I started prepping for paper 3 the night before).  I think the Biology papers were reasonable, not as "out of syllabus" as what some physics students said, but certainly, a little element of surprise in Paper 3. (I do not take Physics so well can't really compare it directly.)

1 hour ago, kevG said:

the petition won't do anything 

the grade boundaries will be lowered cause its based on a bell curve, it always has been on a bell curve so if everyone fails, no one does...

We do not know if it does anything, but the grade boundaries will be lowered, definitely. You are right about this. 

1 hour ago, Haitham Wahid said:

First of all, exams are always difficult. That is non-negotiable. In fact, exams should be hard because that is the only possible way to differentiate between students in terms of academic performance. If the physics exam ( or chemistry and biology) were easy then everyone will do well and feel happy. But then the grade boundaries will be high and so we are back to the same problem, which is that only a minority of students will get the top grades, a 7. 

Exactly, IB is made to be challenging after all, not an exam that gives you straight 100% to get into university. A minority of students will get the top grade, but if the exam paper is hard, the grade boundaries will be adjusted automatically. 

Moreover, petition is just a way for students to release stress somehow if you see it in a more objective way. 

Edited by inriya

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Remember: physics HL IB is the hardest physics course you can take at highschool level so it is pretty normal that it will push to differentiate the top students.

I also fear that (I think someone has mentioned this) that if we start doing this, it will have ripple effects through future years and people will feel that if they do badly they can petition about it and have the paper made easier causing them to basically become lazy and not working as hard.

Saying this, I must admit to some hypocrisy since I did sign the petition in solidarity of my friends

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I agree that the test is meant to be challenging, but how is it possible to go from 6/7 in past papers (2011-2015) to thinking that you won't even get a 5? I wasn't unprepared I believe - the wording of the questions put me off and some questions weren't in any of the resources I had. I hope the grade boundaries are lowered significantly so I can get my predicted. 

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31 minutes ago, bynary said:

Remember: physics HL IB is the hardest physics course you can take at highschool level so it is pretty normal that it will push to differentiate the top students.

I also fear that (I think someone has mentioned this) that if we start doing this, it will have ripple effects through future years and people will feel that if they do badly they can petition about it and have the paper made easier causing them to basically become lazy and not working as hard.

Saying this, I must admit to some hypocrisy since I did sign the petition in solidarity of my friends

HL Physics is algebra-based and not calculus-based, so arguably it covers a wide range of physics but the math is not as complicated as some that are calculus-based.
Also there are already numerous topics on the May 2016 physics/biology exams, there is no need to start new ones. 

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It's true that the petition won't help us much. Grade boundaries should be lowered due to low perfomance of students per se and not due to our willingness to be lower. That would be ridiculous if we were to decide about what grade we want to get... On the other hand, the information flow and syllabus weren't prepared excellently. In my opinion some of the teachers were not aware of the details in the new syllabus and didn't focus on things that were on the exam. We had the discomfort to write the new assesment but we all do think that the papers were challenging thus the IBO should consider lower grade boundaries if the average will be lower. If the grade boundaries were lowered just because, the top students could feel undermined as they would score the same mark as average students. To sum up, the grade boundaries should fit our performance and I guess that IB will adjust them anyways. ;) 

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1 minute ago, wojtek said:

It's true that the petition won't help us much. Grade boundaries should be lowered due to low perfomance of students per se and not due to our willingness to be lower. That would be ridiculous if we were to decide about what grade we want to get... On the other hand, the information flow and syllabus weren't prepared excellently. In my opinion some of the teachers were not aware of the details in the new syllabus and didn't focus on things that were on the exam. We had the discomfort to write the new assesment but we all do think that the papers were challenging thus the IBO should consider lower grade boundaries if the average will be lower. If the grade boundaries were lowered just because, the top students could feel undermined as they would score the same mark as average students. To sum up, the grade boundaries should fit our performance and I guess that IB will adjust them anyways. ;) 

Or imagine just to spite us, the IB put higher than normal grade boundaries XD in which case we revolt and storm their headquarters which I believe are not far from me

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Updates on the petitions from change.org: 

Physics petition will be reaching to 15000 supporters after a few hour or a day (~500 signatures left) 

Biology Petition will be also reaching 5000 supporters (~200 signatures left)

Edited by inriya

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The Biology one is nonsense. The exam was different, but the specimen showed this difference. I'm hoping for lower boundaries because our Bio course basically neglected all the parts that were emphasised (the coloured boxes in the Oxford book, nature of science, applications, etc), but that's not crucial.

However, the Physics one -- insane. From all I've heard, it was unjust. So I understand the petition, and I think it's necessary for the IB to know that it was received so badly, but the grade boundaries will be set according to results anyway.

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14 minutes ago, ellie said:

The Biology one is nonsense. The exam was different, but the specimen showed this difference. I'm hoping for lower boundaries because our Bio course basically neglected all the parts that were emphasised (the coloured boxes in the Oxford book, nature of science, applications, etc), but that's not crucial.

However, the Physics one -- insane. From all I've heard, it was unjust. So I understand the petition, and I think it's necessary for the IB to know that it was received so badly, but the grade boundaries will be set according to results anyway.

but don't you think that the IB is going to notice if the average drops significantly? I think the petition is just a way for people to vent their anger... which in its own rights is important

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31 minutes ago, bynary said:

but don't you think that the IB is going to notice if the average drops significantly? I think the petition is just a way for people to vent their anger... which in its own rights is important

It's just another way to show that it wasn't OK. I think a petition is actually very clever, it shows strength in numbers and is probably much better than 15,000 angry emails to the IBO. It also shows that the badly written exams weren't a fluke.

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10 minutes ago, ellie said:

It's just another way to show that it wasn't OK. I think a petition is actually very clever, it shows strength in numbers and is probably much better than 15,000 angry emails to the IBO. It also shows that the badly written exams weren't a fluke.

fair point! Some point in the future, a film will be made of this incident that will be up there with "All the Presidents Men" XD 

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Personally, having taken the IB physics exam myself I do think the petition is important to get a point across, not that exams should be made easier of course but that with a syllabus change should come proper resources and more explicitly stated information on what needs to be known in the new syllabus. I don't think it'll directly affect the grade boundaries, as that does depend on the actual grade people have received and the whole curve thing. But if everyone does bad, there ya go.

I suppose I cannot speak about biology the same way I did about physics as I didn't take the paper, but I will admit when I first saw that a new petition had started the question of "wow are people just milking it now?" did come to mind. Reading the response of bio takers in the comments above, and also hearing the opinions of all most of my bio taking friends who thought the paper was pretty okay, the paper was not that bad in their opinion.

I actually have a classmate who takes biology SL who didn't study much for the exam (as that classmate informed me after the exam), however didn't hesitate to strongly sign the petition and share the message of how "unjust"and "out of syllabus" the exam paper was on Facebook. Interesting I suppose.

Oh well.

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To be honest, BIO exams were OK. 

Paper 1: I think the specimen paper exactly showed how the whole thing is going to change. I mean before I took a specimen, I had no idea about nature of science and those stuff. After solving that specimen paper, I focused on things that were new on the specimen. Some questions were just confusing based on their vague wording, but that happens all the time in science paper 1 exam. 

Paper 2: Section A was not a big surprise. I think many people struggled with data analysis question. But, rest of the section A and section B was really easy.

Paper 3: I did option A Neurobiology. I might be biased in discussing this part of the exam because I think I really f**ked it up. But, section A, especially the second question was unheard of. In my case, section B was considerably "fine" although the last question that asked "Explain the nervous system that you use to read and answer this question" sounded like a joke.

I am not meaning to brag, but I literally memorized the whole book since the day I have started DP. That is why I think (hope:P) I did pretty good with paper 1 and 2. Sure, biology exam was harder than previous years. I do agree on the fact that some of the resources that were provided to students didn't cover what was on the syllabus.

This is the first year of 2016~ syllabus, so I expect lower grade boundary. 

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As someone who took both the Bio HL and the Physics HL exams-

The biology was fine- there was nothing particularly different or new on it that hadn't been made clear through the syllabus changes (and there were barely any NOSs which is what I had been afraid of).

From what I have heard from my friends is that it was the Bio SL, not the Bio HL paper that focused significantly on smaller parts of the syllabus, and was overall an extremely weird paper. (So much so that my IB coordinator has complained to the IB). So I think the Biology petition is mostly focused on the SL.

Now, the Physics paper on the other hand... as someone who was expecting to do extremely well on both papers, I was shocked at both the number of questions in paper 2, and how they gave less marks for questions that would previously have been worth much more, as well as focusing on very little of the syllabus. So the petition feels just after what feels like a slap in the face for having spent two years studying a subject I believed I was good at.

Then again, will it influence the examiners much? Probably not. 

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12 hours ago, emilyandersson4 said:

As someone who took both the Bio HL and the Physics HL exams-

The biology was fine- there was nothing particularly different or new on it that hadn't been made clear through the syllabus changes (and there were barely any NOSs which is what I had been afraid of).

From what I have heard from my friends is that it was the Bio SL, not the Bio HL paper that focused significantly on smaller parts of the syllabus, and was overall an extremely weird paper. (So much so that my IB coordinator has complained to the IB). So I think the Biology petition is mostly focused on the SL.

Now, the Physics paper on the other hand... as someone who was expecting to do extremely well on both papers, I was shocked at both the number of questions in paper 2, and how they gave less marks for questions that would previously have been worth much more, as well as focusing on very little of the syllabus. So the petition feels just after what feels like a slap in the face for having spent two years studying a subject I believed I was good at.

Then again, will it influence the examiners much? Probably not. 

I think most of the teachers know that there is a petition from physics students to the IB. My math teacher asked me if I have signed the petition. 

I think the petition itself will not have much impact on the grades that Physics students get although based on what my friends have told me about their exam, the grade boundary is most likely to go down by a great extent. However, it might act as a good way to appeal students' anger towards to those who made the exam questions. I am not sure if this has happened in 2009 when the new syllabus was introduced, but all the BIO/Physics exams were TZ0. I think May/2016 session students are being used as a Guinea pig by IB to manage level of difficulty in the test paper for the future. As we are the first one to take the new test, I am sure that there will be a way to compensate for our disadvantage E.g: Lower grade boundary or lenient mark scheme. 

As I have written above, I do agree that the exam papers could have better in terms of contents and wordings. However, except for paper 3, most of the questions were similar to questions from the past papers (2009~2015). Personally, I think it is Bio students' own right to express their feeling, but it just feels like some people are using the fact that this is the first examination using the nex syllabus as an "excuse" to blame their misfortune in the exam...

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