The Supernatural Force That Will Make You Believe in IB Physics Magic!

ib physics Sep 02, 2021

Do you believe in magic? I do!

I’ve been teaching the International Baccalaureate physics specification since 2004 and I believe in magic…. (not sure about ghosts though - that freaks me out!)

What do I mean,

“I believe in magic?”

To help you understand, I looked up the definition of ‘magic’ on google. It said:

“Magic is the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.”

Today, all you IB Physics students out there - I have the supernatural force that will make you believe in magic too.

I have my magic marking grid

What is this hocus pocus you ask????

My magic marking grid has been designed to help you improve your ability to answer IB physics questions in the quickest, most effective way.

Here’s why I designed it.

I get hundreds of emails from IB Physics students asking me two things:

  1. Is my IB Physics Internal Assessment research question ok? (that’s another blog post!)
  2. I understand the concepts but really can’t answer the questions - can you help?

The second issue is really what makes IB Physics hard. The exam questions are hard and they are not always obvious - even if you understand the concepts. So… to be good at IB Physics, you need to be good at solving the problems in the exams. You need to be good at problem-solving.

I say that same phrase over and over again every day,

“You need to be good at problem-solving”

but it’s not always obvious how to improve in problem-solving.

That’s where my magic marking grid comes in. It’s a tool that helps you improve your problem-solving skills and ultimately improve your scores in IB Physics class test, homework and exams.

I guarantee this marking grid will will: 

  1. Provide outstanding, individualised feedback on your performance in tests 
  2. Improve your exam technique 
  3. Engage you in your own learning and self-development 
  4. Encourage you to self-analyse and improve.

How does this magic marking grid work and where can you get one?

Let’s start with where you can get one.

It’s free.

It’s inside my IB Physics: Starter Study Kit

Now let’s delve into the meaty part. How does this magic marking grid work?

STEP 1: Start by doing some work...

You have to start by doing some work.

You have to try and complete some physics problems. This will give you the base level to work from.

You may have been set some homework problems by your teacher, you may have just completed a class test OR perhaps you’re being a model IB Physics student and you’re working through past paper questions.

Either way, you’ll have completed the problems AND they will be marked using a markscheme.

Which leads us to step 2...

STEP 2: Grade the work using a markscheme

So if it was a class test, then the class teacher will have marked your test for you.

If it’s homework - hopefully you’ll have that marked too.

If you’re working on your own, you can access a markscheme and mark it.

You don’t need to be detailed in your marking. You don’t need to give yourself any feedback!

You just need a numerical mark assigned to each question.

For example, say you are answering a calculation question on impulse and it was worth 4 marks. You’d need a mark out of 4 for that question.

If you got full marks for that question - move on. You don’t need to focus on areas in your study that you are already good at.

STEP 3: Why did you lose the marks?

You have a question that you have not achieved full marks. Let’s use an example of impulse, which is a concept you would meet in Topic 2 Mechanics,

“Calculate the magnitude of the average force exerted on a block by the rope”

This question would be worth two marks.

You need to assess why you did not get two marks on that question and where exactly those marks were lost.

Reasons for losing marks in an IB Physics ‘calculate’ question could be:

  • Didn’t know the correct formula to use
  • Simple unforced error (like a calculator error)
  • Didn’t show working
  • Didn’t add units
  • Did not perform a reasonableness check
  • Just simply totally lost!

In this case you would joy down the reason you lost the marks for that question AND you note down the concept being examined.

It’s easier to lay all this out if you use my magic marking grid, but still a simple concept without it.

Still on STEP 3. Head to the next question that you did not achieve full marks in. Another example might be an ‘explain’ question. Like:

"Explain why intensity maximia are observed in Young Double Slit Experiment”

A question like this would be worth 3 marks.

Reasons for losing marks in an 'explain' question in IB Physics:

  • Didn’t understand the question
  • Poor use of the correct scientific vocabulary
  • Didn’t link together concepts well
  • Basic lack of knowledge

Again, you would joy down the reason you lost the marks for that question AND you note down the concept being examined.

This leads us to..

STEP 4: Identify The Pattern In Your Weaknesses

Once you have completed this analysis of your marked work, you should see a pattern emerge.

This is where the layout of my magic marking grid really comes into its own because the pattern of your errors are laid out directly in front of you and it becomes clear where your problem-solving weaknesses are.

I won't lie - it's depressing

I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty depressing to look at all the stuff that you got incorrect, but it’s essential to analyse your mistakes and work on them.

You’ll probably notice that in calculator question you always lose marks because you don’t show your working OR in explain questions, you lose marks because you don’t use the correct scientific vocabulary. GREAT! In that case, you have two very clear improvements to make in your exam technique! You focus all your efforts on showing your working correctly and making better use of appropriate vocabulary.

The Future is Bright!

If you keep this practice going for a few weeks, you start to iron out all the mistakes you make in problem-solving and your magic marking grid becomes less error-filled. 

I promise it will ultimately get you better grades.

BUT

There is a BUT….

You have to do the work. 

Nobody else can do this for you.

You have to be diligent and you have to be motivated to succeed in this. 



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