All of us at OSC are proud to be working on the most significant addition to OSC Study thus far – IB exam practice.
In a previous blog, Mitch Campbell (Head of OSC) outlined the pedagogical rationale for creating authentic IBDP practice exams, and described the maths project team involved in writing them.
In this blog, we will discuss how the OSC Study app integrates practice exams as a fourth dimension in a learning system that helps students acquire conceptual knowledge and demonstrate that they can apply it.
OSC Study accompanies students through the two years of the DP programme, so combining learning with exam preparation early and often seems a natural thing to do – and a more efficient way to proceed than to suddenly ‘cram for exams’ in year two. The OSC Study app balances learning and exam prep by providing two learning modes for the same content:
- As questions grouped within topics to link concepts to application in context
- As whole exam papers to give a realistic exam experience.
Exam questions grouped by topics
The ability to access the syllabus from different angles is what makes OSC Study unique. Flashcards, revision guides, and videos combine to deliver instruction and opportunities to self-assess. Accessing a topic from any or all of these media contributes to more effective learning through spiraling exposure and reinforcement. That is the essence of practice, culminating in exam questions as a fourth stream.
Within the OSC Study app, topics and subtopics from the IB syllabus will now be linked to corresponding exam practice questions. This gives users multiple opportunities to practice them. This is how we fulfil our key promise to students: they can revise for upcoming exams using the method that best fits their style.
The flashcards are the place to access short questions that cover key points from the syllabus. They are designed for short, pinpointed review of essential concepts and ideas.
The revision guides come in a longer, explanation-rich format. Here we have ample room to explain the entirety of a subject. Students who don’t know much about a topic can make this their starting point.
Videos reinforce learning points with explanations delivered in a comfortable how-to voice. They do more than simply benefit visual/oral learners; they provide another means of processing key ideas, and users can dip in and out of them to confirm how much they already know.
The fourth stream, Exams, houses exam practice questions and ties it all together, giving students a good gauge of where they stand in terms of revision. From here, users who are unsure about a question or its solution can link back to any of the three other media types to sharpen their understanding.
To make switching between media as intuitive as possible, we’re simply adding an exam icon to each topic and subtopic. Because flashcards function in a subtopic-driven way, links may be to just one part of an exam practice question.
Every exam question featured in OSC Study comes with a step-by-step written solution and a video solution.
When browsing exam practice questions, users can instantly see which subtopic they target, the syllabus level (SL/HL), the difficulty rating, the maximum number of marks attainable, and whether a calculator is allowed/required.
After attempting a question, users can rate their confidence level with emoticons (I feel …):
- Neither confident nor unconfident
This helps students maintain a sharp focus as they cycle through the hundreds of questions presented in the OSC Study app. In fact, students preselect the questions they’d like to attempt using filters:
- Paper (1/2/3)
- Syllabus level (SL/HL)
- Difficulty rating
- Personal confidence level
A realistic exam experience
To ensure students get a realistic experience, all of the questions available via topics are also presented within Papers that build up to full practice exams. Users will therefore not only have opportunities to practice exam-style questions as needs arise when studying a topic, but they will also see those same questions in the context of an authentic IB-styled exam. In that setting, students will become familiar with the way IB Papers ramp up in difficulty, with shorter, more accessible questions preceding longer, more discriminating ones.
For ease of navigation, we’ve condensed the information displayed with each question, using short descriptors for the subtopic(s) targeted, as well as its difficulty level. Users can open this ‘hidden’ info, which quickly guides them to all the media resources where a (sub)topic is covered.
Whether users opt for the ‘learning mode’ or the ‘exam mode’, OSC Study includes full pedagogical support, solutions, and fast links to explanations.
OSC IB mock exams
We’re launching this second category of OSC exams with questions users can’t access via topics. While the content of OSC exams are part of the topics and exams menu, the content of OSC mocks are exclusively available in the OSC mocks menu.
Our aim is to give users fresh content towards the end of their studying, giving them an even more realistic impression of their skill.
About the author, Tobias Huebner
Tobias graduated from Munich International School, Germany with an IB Diploma in 2010. Even then, the idea of providing better support to IB students was in his thoughts.After interning at companies like Deutsche Bank or Nuclear Free Future, Tobias studied for a Bachelor degree in Economics and Art Management at Zeppelin University, Germany.His strong interest in how innovation and art/education intersect was highlighted by the research project on digital trends that he conducted with Prof. Jansen for the BMW board of management, and in his role with the Guggenheim Museum.In 2016, the first SMARTPREP resources were launched – largely based on the experience Tobias and his co-founder gained during their years in school and through developing close ties to key IB schools.