November 6, 2014

Farewelll for the Moment

What is happening fellow IBers!!

Sorry that we've been taking our time writing this post. But we have had quite a lot of work to do especially with one of the four musketeers gone to the other side of the world. For good.

We've had a busy summer with Extended Essays and Internal Assessments and the workload increased even further after the school started. Finalizing IAs and doing FOAs has been our top priority in the last couple of weeks. Apparently some students on the national side have been taking time off from school due to stress from their final exams. BUT we’re still standing tall (as tall as one can stand seeing their height) without taking any unnecessary holidays.

But good news! We have finally finished our Extended Essays! 

So, the EE Day, the day we were all very anxiously waiting for. For starters, the EE day is a day that all students in IB2 present their Extended Essays to teachers as well as the other IB students. From our group of the four musketeers minus one, two of us wrote our EEs on Biology and one in Finnish. I've got to say, the EE day was nerve wrecking thinking of how you’ll be able to answer the questions thrown at you by the teachers and be able to explain your EE as the expert you are.
The future doesn't look too bright for us. We still have A LOT of sleepless nights ahead of us with several IAs and orals still to come. Not forgetting about the MOCKS and Finals which we are approaching quite fast.

Due to all of this work, we will not be doing anymore blog posts at least for now. You never know what the future holds. Maybe someone will continue in our footsteps when doing their CAS.

November 3, 2014

10 Study Tips

Yo homies!

This week we are going to enlighten you on the topic of study tips! Hopefully you will be able to put at least one of these into practice, even if it is just for a short period of time. We have tons of experience in this matter, for we have tried it all and have honed down only the best and most useful tips for you to use. Excellent, isn't it?

  1. Make Flash cards. Write a question or a word that you need to define and the answer on the other side. These are very handy for remembering small facts. 
  2. Laminate some note cards and plant them around the house (even the shower). Plant the cards in places where you will have to read them inevitably at some point, like the mirror when you comb your hair or brush your teeth. Another great place for these handy things are on the fridge door - a place we IB:ers love to visit. You can write down equations or points of information you feel necessary to know. 
  3. Reward yourself with food or other incentives after reading a certain amount of pages in your textbooks. For example, you can buy a bag of chips, candy or a healthier option (generally avoided by us) and reward yourself with one after every page. Some people also like to paint one nail with nail polish after every chapter - we recommend you boys instead of girls to use this tactic surprisingly, because it will take you longer to add and remove the nail polish which means more study time!
  4. Have one notebook for notes in class and another for notes at home from your textbook. Often your notes in school can be confusing and too simple, which may cost you later in the final exams. If you keep one study notebook at home you can study the topics studied at school again at home and write them down in a clearer manner, that you can study from later. 
  5. Use your 'dead' time wisely. Dead time as in bus or train rides, skip lessons, queues etc by reading your notes, textbooks or flash cards. This enables you to use up all your extra time productively! Sometimes it is nice to spend your dead time being 'dead', though..
  6. Practice past paper exams on the internet. This one is quite self evident and always a smart option before your actual tests. Especially with mathematics, no matter what level. 
  7. When studying and making notes, use the syllabus guide as a reference - found on the internet. The syllabus guide gives you exact information on what you need to know and not know - this may not always be made clear by teachers during class. 
  8. Use the No Procrastination- app while studying on the computer. This app doesn't let you enter sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube etc (whatever you add on the list) for a certain time period of your choosing. If you don't have the willpower to not visit these sites without a little help, this is the app for YOU. 
  9. Take a five minute break after every 30 minutes of studying. This allows your brain to process all the information you have gathered during the studying period. It may also eliminate the chances of getting extremely frustrated! 
  10. Make a To-Do List. Always an excellent idea! It's a good feeling after doing something and being able to cross it off the list with a feeling of accomplishment. 

March 23, 2014

Internal Assessments: B&M and an A-Language

This week we are continuing on the subject of Internal Assessments; we have quite a few under progress now and we are all ready to discuss them all with you! This is all to ensure you will not have any surprises when you walk into the real deal IB Diploma - or if you already are and finding about all this now, well, you have bigger fish to fry. 
Anywhoozles, today we are talking about the Internal Assessment of Business & Management and an A-language which in this case will be about Finnish once again. 


A Literature: Finnish (HL)

In Finnish, we have started working on our Written Assignments (again, these are not called Internal Assessment, but work as the same thing). It is an essay based on a translated book read in class which has to be around 1200-1500 words. 
So far, we have chosen the topics for our essay and had our teacher approve them. Now we will have to start planning and writing the essay since the first draft is due in already a month. After we've given our first drafts to the teacher, she will read them through and sit with each of us individually, giving us feedback. 

Teachers are not allowed to write anything down on them so the feedback has to be done orally. Our teacher said that in the past, some students have written down the feedback and many students have recorded it. This is the only chance that your teacher can revise your work, so make sure that you write a proper first draft and listen carefully to the feedback you're given!

Here are the basics just in case:

  1. Students submit a reflective statement and literary essay on one work studied in Part 1
  2. The reflective statement must be 300–400 words in length.
  3. The essay must be 1,200–1,500 words in length.

Business & Management (HL)

In Business and Management, we have started on our Internal Assessments already about a month ago. We had to start thinking about our research questions - which is extremely difficult and time consuming, believe you me. It is vital for you to have a good and answerable question to get a good grade in this Internal Assessment and just saying, your first questions will probably not be the ones you will be researching by the end of the summer break. This is what we have done this far:

As you all know, IAs are written in every subject and thus, Business & Management is no different. The IA is 25% of the final grade (surprise surprise…) and it consists of a 500 word research proposal and action plan as well as the 2000 word written report (go over, and you will be penalized by minus points!). 

So for the IA you have to choose an organization that is facing some kind of an issue, BUT the organization should have the following characteristics:
  1. Must be a real organization
  2. Issue or decision under discussion must also be real
  3. Must be able to collect primary data (surveys, interviews etc.) HL ONLY!
Here are a few tips for finding a good Research Question - when the time comes. 
  • It's relevant to the business going forward (not a question that has already been resolved or likely to be resolved)
  • It should take the form 'Should____ in order to____?'
  • Facilitates itself to a quantitative and qualitative cost/benefit analysis
  • Can also be a decision between two options 'Should___ or ___?'
  • Do a lot of research and ensure you have enough data to make something out of your research question! This is where most questions end up being thrown out and replaced with new ones (At least in our cases) 

That is all for this week's post, tune in next week for more tips and information!

March 17, 2014

Two Written Tasks And An Investigation

Well hello there fellow IBers!

This week our topic will be on current subjects that we are heavily occupied, which indeed are the Internal Assessments. We have been quite busy as have the second year IB students with their MOCKS exams, which we will enlighten you on sooner or later. The featuring IA  speeches today and next week are on English, History, Finnish (a mother tongue language) and Business & Management. 


English HL

If you are well acquainted with the IB system or you have been reading closely to our blog posts when we were discussing subjects, you will already be thinking that hold on, I thought we didn't have any IAs in English? Well, we are here to tell you that it is indeed correct that we do not. However, we do have to make up for this in other means such as the FOA (Further Oral Assessment) and WRITTEN TASKS. We write up four of these pesky little things which will be then sent to the IBO for grading. During the past few weeks we have been working on our second Written Task 1, where we get to invent a story (a diary entry, article, blog etc) where we discuss issues we have been learning about. All in all, it is quite a creative task. 

Written Tasks divide into two categories: Written Task 1 (WT1) and Written task 2 (WT2). You will write up at least two of each; if more you will get to choose the best ones that will be sent to the IBO. There are fundamental differences to Written Task 1 and 2: 

  • Written task 1 is an 'imaginative piece' in which you demonstrate your understanding of the course work and a type of text. You can write a journalistic review of a speech, a letter from one character to another or something else that is relevant to your studies. 
  •  Because the possibilities are endless, it is easy to write irrelevant work. Therefore it is important that you look at several samples and several tips for guidance on the Written Task 1.

  • Written task 2 is for HL students only. It is a critical response to a text or texts, written in light of one of six prescribed questions from the IB Language A: Language and Literature guide. These questions can be answered using texts from all parts of the syllabus.
Now, just to start with the Written Task 1 for it is relevant for the moment being and we can freely speak from experience we are going to lay down the groundwork for you guys. So without further ado, here are the Written Task 1 basics for our IB dummies:

  1. Written task must be 800-1000 words long (SL & HL)
  2. You must write a rationale of 200-300 words, explaining the decision making process behind the task. (SL & HL)
  3. While general feedback may be given, the work must be the student's own. Teachers cannot prescribe the task at hand, only facilitate to good ideas. (SL & HL)
  4. SL students must submit one WT1 from their portfolio. 
  5. HL students must submit two WT1s from their portfolio
...And here are the basics for Written Task 2s (HL ONLY):

  1. Also between 800-1000 words long. 
  2. A critical response to a text that answers one of six prescribed questions
  3. Can be based on texts taken anywhere in the syllabus. 
  4. Each task must be accompanied by an outline, which must be written in class. The outline contains the prescribed question chosen, title of the text(s) for analysis, the part of the course to which the task refers and three or four key points that explain the focus of the task.
And Bob's your uncle! That is all you need to know about Written Tasks, they are not difficult at all when you get into it, we guarantee you. 


History HL/SL

The history IA is actually called ‘Historical investigation’ since one is not writing an essay to explain why something happened and why. The best thing about a historical investigation is that you have the right to choose any topic in history that you want to write about and you don’t have to fixate on a topic you don’t like from the teacher. For the IA, the total word count is 2000 words this may sound scary but from experience, you’ll get used to it in fact, you’ll probably have more words, well maybe.
A historical investigation consisting of a written account of between 1,500 and 2,000 words and it is divided into six sections: plan of the investigation, summary of evidence, evaluation of sources, analysis, conclusion, and bibliography or list of sources.

Each section has different word counts and also different points:

A. Plan of Investigation: up to 150 words (3 marks)
B. Summary of Evidence: 400-500 words (6 marks)
C. Evaluation of Sources: 200-350 words (5 marks)
D. Analysis: 600 - 800 words (6 marks)
E. Conclusion: up to 200 words (2 marks)
F. Bibliography: (3 marks)
Total word count: 2000 words maximum

Here are some points of how you can plan your Historical investigation:

1. Start by identifying a general area of interest.
2. Narrow it down to a specific question/area of investigation.
3. Choose a working title that may be changed/refined at a later stage.
4. Make sure you can obtain sufficient resources for your planned investigation.
5. Read widely around the area of study and note down resources used.
6. Review your thesis question and refine it if necessary.
7. Take notes from your chosen resources, including exact references.
8. Complete section A and show it to your teacher.
9. Re-read your notes and decide where they would fit into the sections of the investigation.
10. Complete your investigation, according to the IBO guidelines.

From experience, choosing the right topic has not been easy but the your teacher will help a lot so no worries, be happy!


Next week we will be hearing more about the Finnish and B&M (Business & Management) Internal Assessments. Be sure to check it out just in case you will pick up on some excellent tips!

February 26, 2014

Theory Of Knowledge & EE

Today's post is about the subject going by the name of Theory of Knowledge and its importance of it in your IB diploma programme and the Extended Essay that has been mentioned quite a few times but yet not to be clarified in depth.

The majestic language of our minds.. Theory of Knowledge (a.k.a T.O.K. because its badass). It's basically this awesome subject is here to help you understand as well as challenge your surroundings as a learning student in the IB. It's actually a very fun subject indeed because you get to let your thoughts and opinions out on things and talk about contradicting issues that are debated even today like what is the meaning of life and all that cool and thoughtful stuff.
From Theory of Knowledge you are able to gain 1.5 points for your final grade by essays, tests and we guess just class behaviour all in all. So be on your best behaviour, it is not a class for slacking off!

Now, this is what IB wants you to get out of T.O.K. so listen up:
  1. Learn to reflect critically in all sorts of ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. (sounds complicated, right?)
  2. Gain awareness of different cultures and others in the whole wide world we got going on here.
  3. To strengthen your thinking skills (thinkers) and to understand the complexity of knowledge
  4. You should become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge with personal assumptions, regardless of whether, ultimately, these assumptions are cut down, revised or down right rejected.
  5. The ability to apply your knowledge with greater awareness and credibility - this shows in our IB books when some of them have little side notes of 'TOK sessions'.
In addition, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions with the most central one being
that we know, that we know.. how to create a mind?

This all may sound a little boring to you, however, we at least have a very knowledgeable and fun teacher so we also get do really interesting things like brain teasers and debates on various subjects. We will put a few of these brain teasers for you so that you can get a little taste of 'jogging' your brain for a change!
In our opinion, debates are a lot of fun after a long day of academic studies. We can let our minds run free and think outside the box and maybe come up with some philosophical ideas. We've had a role-play debate in history with characters such as  Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. We've also done some other smaller group debates on issues with morals, language barriers and culture. All in all, it's all good.
For the brain teasers!
Shown above are 4 men buried up to their necks in the ground. They can not move so can only look forward. Between A and B is a brick wall which can not be seen through. They know that between them are 4 hats, 2 are black and 2 are white, but they do not know which color they are wearing. In order to avoid being shot one of them must call out to the executioner the color of their hat. If they get it wrong, everyone will be shot. They are not allowed to talk to each other and have 10 minutes to fathom it out.
Question: Which one of them calls out ?
Question: Why is he 100% certain of the color of his hat ?
Tune in next week for the answer! (if you gave up, that is..)


Extended Essay

The best part of the IB is writing a 4000 word essay during your summer vacation while all of your friends are on the beach enjoying their time off. However you can make this experience enjoyable and outdoorsy if you choose your topic wisely. To get over with the formalities, essentially "the Extended Essay is a in-depth study  of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects", to quote from the Extended Essay guide from the IBO site.
 ...The important facts for you to know are the following:
  • It will be sent away to the IBO hub to be assessed
  • The EE and TOK together will contribute up to three points to the total score of the IB Diploma
  • You will be supervised by an IB teahcer in your school
  •  As said before the essay is 4000 words long (if you go over the word limit you will be doomed or in other words you will lose points)
  • The legend says it will take approximately 40 hours of work, but we have been warned that it will take more
  • At the sweet end you will have a short interview with your supervisor

So far we have been choosing our topics and reading the 20 page Extended Essay Guide. Though we haven't quite started our own essays yet we have been given one important tip:

Now, last but certainly not least! Below you can see marking range with your T.O.K studies and the Extended Essay. Be sure to read this through!
Alrighty then! See ya's next week!

February 9, 2014

The Made-Up Social Lives of IB Students

Welcome to the fun part of IB!

Ah, the wonderful world of CAS (also known as Creativity, Action and Service), the heart of the IB programme

. If all the work the IB already gives you does NOT take up all your time, this certainly will. Not only that, CAS ensures that your two years of IB will be filled with joy and activity keeping you busy at all times. Including holidays. And summer. And pretty much every waking moment you have.  We will proceed an try to enlighten you on the subject of CAS and show you how to get the most of this 'burdening' workload by reflecting on our own experiences. Hopefully. Indeed it is a lot of work on top of all the work we are already doing, but you just have to bite your lip and make the best of it. After all, go all the way or go home, that is what IB is about.

To begin, you will be obliged to do just about 150 hours of CAS during your two years of IB, in which you will have to do approximately 50 hours of each activity (Creativity, Action and Service). Even though this work will not be graded and will not affect your final points after the finals, you will not receive your diploma without successfully completing all your CAS hours. Including a CAS project with three or more students, which we will talk about soon. However, you will still be receiving your diploma if you are under the 150 hours by a small amount, it is not that strict.
There is this site these days called ManageBac where you can record your activities and your progress by writing up reflections. When completing your activities, you will need a supervisor at all times who is over 18 years of age and is not a relative of yours. At the end of your activity, he or she will be required to write a supervisor's report or letter on your behavior and performance. Your activity will not be completed before your CAS coordinator receives this report and you will have to write several reflections that show your learning outcomes that are the following:

 Now, choosing your learning outcomes doesn't sound too hard does it? Because it's not. What's hard is writing a few paragraphs on each one and picking your brain for the little details you did each time you went and completed a few of those hours you had earned. That my friends, is the difficult part. Below you can find a good diagram to help you get started with CAS when the time comes:

If you still feel like you have nothing to do to get you CAS points/hours, we thought it would be a good idea to show you what we are doing at the moment in order to earn CAS hours. It's always good to wonder when you are starting a new hobby or for instance, helping out your school with something, whether you can get CAS hours from this. This is the question we ask most frequently in the IB programme. Just saying.

We're going to introduce ourselves individually and tell you about our own CAS experiences.
First of all we, the Four Musketeers, have one thing in common when it comes to CAS: we are all writing up this blog as our CAS project which is obviously a great and creative solution to have as a CAS project. Simple too and doesn't require too much research.

Hello, my name is Heidi and I'll be the first to discuss my CAS activities. Hopefully this helps you when choosing your activities.

1. I participated in EYP (European Youth Parliament) which lasted for three days. From this activity I gained several hours for all activities (Creativity, Action and Service). I recommend you to participate in these types of things if you are interested in issues facing the international community.

2. Another activity that I did was being Santa's Little Helper in a "Christmas World" which was a small market held during the Christmas holiday. I helped with organizing the small cottages in which differnet products were sold. Of course I was not allowed to sell anything because I'm a minor. But it was still cool being there and helping out. Something like this is great for gaining hours for Service as well as for Action. It's not too hard is it?

3. I was one of the in-school organizers for our annual International Show with Tilda Rose, one of the Musketeers. We planned and executed an amazing show for our school in exchange for a few Service hours. However, this is probably the first and the last time I'm going to plan any show in school due to some inconveniences. This just goes to show that ´CAS can't always be a fun experience but you can still learn from this.

4. I'm also planning on getting some of my Action hours from my hobby; ice hockey. Hobbies are always something you can fall back on if you can't think of anything better to do.

5. Another good way to learn something and profit from CAS is going to driving school- of course if you are of age to do so. This is what most IB students here in Finland do in order to get some Action and/or Creativity hours.

6. Next summer I'm planning on helping at an elderly care center. This is actually a perfect way to gain CAS hours and impress your CAS coordinator.
Well, that's all for me for now.


Alright, so, I am Tilda Rose and I'm gonna give you guys some more examples on CAS from my own experiences:

1. First of all, I participated in an art course a while back to get my Creativity hours up and learn something new since I'm building up a portfolio to apply to an Art College in the States. It's good to use this CAS to find your interests and to improve your skills and passions and maybe even increase your chances in getting into a university or college of your choosing. The picture on the right is one of my creations during that class: accounted for about four hours of CAS. Pretty sweet. 

2. I went to an elderly home for a day and got some good Service hours from this, giving me great reflections that impressed my CAS coordinator - I think.. This is always an important aspect to CAS.

3. As Heidi just mentioned, I was also an in-school organizer for the International Christmas show with her, and my outcomes of it were pretty much alike to the ones made by Heidi. 

4. To add to the blog we are doing here right now with the Four Musketeers, I also have my very own 'art-oriented' blog for Action and Creativity, which is pretty cool for me and I can share all my interests with the world. If you want to check out my blog and see what I'm talking about, here is the address -> Feel free follow... ;-) This is a great and free way to get CAS hours, just talking about the things you love which is kind of my hobby since I don't have an actual one anymore.

5. As for Action, I'm planning on starting working out with my good buddy, just turned 18 years old, for a few months. So there are always creative solutions to gaining CAS hours when you are running out of options. Not to say that I am!

6. Like Heidi, I helped out in a school event as a guest 'welcomer', when our school turned 50 years old. I gave out slips to ALL those people you see on the right. MOST OF THEM. It was quite painful but worth it. So those thing always count for some hours or points- don't hesitate to ask your CAS Coordinators!

Hope this helped! 

Heyoo, I'm SusanMoreen and here are my CAS experiences.
1. I went to EYP (European Youth parliament) along with Heidi. It was a three day programme where we learned about Europe and participated in debates. This covered all aspects of CAS; Creativity, Action and Service.It was and is a good idea for CAS as well as extra curricular activity for insight as well as experience to resolve global issues. It's a global organization for youths and most countries have it so you can also choose to participate, as a plus you get great reflections on this!

2. I helped out in an elderly home every Saturday for a month. It was interesting because i got to work with the elderly and learned a lot from them. It's a good opportunity to work along with others as well as do something for the community. However, after all the work you will have a guaranteed smile on your face.


3. I thought it was a good idea to learn Finnish since i'm living in  Finland,  i attended a Finnish language course at our school to expand on my my Finnish skills and vocabulary. My outcomes were positive since i'm now able to speak more and with confidence. You should definitely try this if you live in a foreign country and don't speak the language too well or if you love to expand on your language studies. It is know that studying different languages can help in other aspects of studying and brain activity. 

4. I'm also planning on volunteering to work with the Red Cross . I love volunteering in different places and most of my summers were spent volunteering instead of actual work. If your town has an organization of some sought, you should go ask them if they need assistance and i assure you they appreciate all the help they can get.

When I choose my CAS activities, i try to choose something that i'm interested in and would have fun doing it and not to just get CAS points. Some of the CAS activities we do can also have an influence on my CV as well as help when applying for Colleges or Universities.

Hi! I'm Nelli and I've had to do CAS since the 7th grade so it wasn't a new thing for me coming into the IB. 

1. I've been doing a lot of baby sitting lately. It's a good and fun way to get CAS hours (especially Service, that's a tough one), but remember, it doesn't count for CAS if you get paid for it!!

2. In the autumn, I joined a 9th grade trip which lasted for four days. I got plenty of hours for all of the activities in CAS from helping with organizing activities, cooking and taking pictures

3. Like Heidi, I've gained many CAS hours from hobbies. I play basketball so I get a lot of my action hours from this. I stopped playing the clarinet a few years ago which I now regret since it would have been a great way to get some hours for Action. 

4. Unlike the other three Musketeers, I'm taking part in the Wanhojen Tanssit, which is kind of a prom like event for the second year upper-secondary school students to take part in. It's a fun way to get Creativity, Action and Service. 

And that is the run down by all the Four Musketeers. 
Next week we will be diving into the deep subject of Theory of Knowledge and might be introducing you into the magical world of the Extended Essays. We shall see next week, won't we... See ya's next week!

February 2, 2014

More Languages!

Hello you busy bees!

This week we are going to continue on languages, hope you don't mind. We are still yet to cover French and German as an B language and Self Taught (an independent subject, whaaaat?). We will also probably cover Visual Arts and Chemistry, but because our class weren't fortunate enough to get these classes we will have to interview some fellow IBers soon. Of course, these are not THE only IB subjects, but these are the ones that are offered on our radius. You can always find out more on the IB site ->


We're just gonna start now with French B as a language choice of the two you are obliged to pick. Actually, this choice really does mingle well with studying English Literature, believe it or not. We were too unfortunate not to be offered this subject as on a Higher Level, but we will try our best to supply you with the information you need. Three of our Four Musketeers; Tilda Rose, SusanMoreen and Nelli,  have French B as an Standard Level subject and we have to say, it is not a bad subject to have at all not to mention that it is indeed the diplomatic language, which is always good to know. Basically, the Higher and Standard Levels are different only by the recommended teaching hours, the depth of syllabus coverage, the required study of literature at Higher Level and the level of difficulty and requirements of tasks and criteria. 

We have three required core themes: communication and media, global issues and social relationships which is quite a nice balance, don't you think? Oh, and in addition, at Standard and Higher Level, teachers will pick two more themes from five options that are given to them and finally, two works of literature are studied at Higher Level only. All this actually applies to all B languages that you can choose, we only chose French here because it seemed relevant and we can talk about it from experience.

Alright, so here are a few things you should know about B Languages and how you will be assessed during the two years:

  1. Your interactive, productive and receptive skills will be honed through contextualized study of language of your choice, texts and themes.
  2. You will be exposed to a variety of authentic texts and you produce work in a variety of communicative contexts
  3. Your key goals will be intercultural understanding and plurilingualism
  4. You will be assessed both internally and externally
  5. External assessment at Standard Level consists of exercises to demonstrate understanding of texts
  6. External assessment at Higher Level consists of exercises to demonstrate understanding of texts based on the core themes, two writing exercises and one based on the core and the other based on the options, and finally a written assignment based on one of the literary texts
  7. Internal assessment at both Standard and Higher level tests your abilities in listening and speaking in a conversation format: consisting of an individual oral based on the options and an interactive oral based on the core ( three classroom activities assessed by your teacher )
Now. The Finals slash exams. From the previous post on Languages, the overall percentage of the Final exam was 25%, the same goes for French once again. Just as in all the other languages, in the subject of French we have two papers; Paper 1 and Paper 2 and also an Oral assessment  that will be performed
The Oral assessment is recorded via cassette tape recording or digitally via a CD recorder. You are expected to speak for 3 to 5 minutes on a subject of your choice the followed by a question period between your teacher and you for about 2-3 minutes. The question period has been made as a way for you to show your level of depth in the French language, so that's pretty cool. The best tip for this oral assessment that we can come up with is to practice your French accent, but indeed that is not all; choosing a topic related to the French Culture would be most helpful for your assessment grade and additionally a topic that is of your keen interest, something that would make you enjoy and have fun while talking about it ‘in French’. Naturally.

Paper 1 is intended to test your reading comprehension and the time given to you is approximately 1.5 hours.  Basically the test consist of a text and exam questions of about 50 questions, some are true or false questions, fill in the blanks or matching synonyms. Having a strong understanding of French vocabulary and grammar is good because, obviously it really helps your understanding of the text. For example, we just had a test a few months back and we had this reading comprehension test, oh my goodness we tell you. We hadn't practiced too much of the everyday vocabulary and we did not understand much what the texts were talking about. These tests can be pretty tricky and we cannot emphasize how much it helps you if you read columns or articles in French during your free time just to get yourself adjusted and ready for these things. Everything you need to know is not necessarily covered in school, especially vocabulary. 

Paper 2 is also a 1.5 hour performance and  basically, it tests your writing skills, a very important skill for you to master in the IB French system. A list of choices is given to you and you must choose only ONE and write a minimum of 250 words on it the topic of your choosing. You can always write a bit more, maybe 100 more but keep in mind that you can be penalized for too many extra words or the examiner may choose to just assess your work until the word limit, in which case maybe he or she will not read your conclusion which is one of the most important parts of any essay that you write. So, just keep that in the back of your brain during the Paper 2 exams. 



Next up we are going to talk about Self Taught as an independent subject which is an A language of your choice and you cannot choose this as a Higher Level subject. Of course you have to be quite fluent in this language because this is a demanding choice especially because you are doing it independently. However, it doesn't have to be your mother tongue, for instance one of our beloved classmates has chosen Mandarin Chinese even though he is a full Finnish citizen but he has lived in China for a long time. If you choose this subject you have to read literary works throughout the two years, write all assessed components and perform oral examinations. And these works obviously have to be done in the language you chose as a self taught subject. Even though this subject may be quite difficult at times, we are sure it will pay off later especially if you enjoy this language and want to excel in it. We encourage you not to forget your -possibly- mother tongue so that it has a strong presence in the rest of your studies. Maybe it will give you a new twist to studying, who knows?!


 Last up we thought it would be a nice idea to put up this demonstration of the groups you have to choose your subjects from, even though this is given to you in almost any IB-related talk or meeting but anyway, here it is. 

And a few links for you to lighten the mood a bit and give you a good and solid- maybe slightly blown out of proportions, not by much though - idea of what you are getting yourself into. This all is to encourage you to be an international and knowledgeable student!

That's all for now and next week we are going to dig deeper into the subject of Theory Of Knowledge (a.k.a TOK), all the little thing that comes with it like the Extended Essay and possibly we will we talking a little more about Visual Arts and Chemistry. 

Tilda Rose, SusanMoreen, Nelli & Heidi