Why the Assessment Calendar Isn’t That Bad

BT Graphic- Assesment Calendar-01Writer: Rafatul I.

Visual: Sandro L.

Editor: James Y.

The Assessment Calendar strategically allocates assessments from each subject in Junior year—the first year of IB—in order to ensure students ample time to showcase their learning. It also warrants that students aren’t overwhelmed by an excessive amount of assessments in any given week. As a Junior, I somewhat disliked the assessment calendar; but, as a Senior, I realize that my judgment may have been misguided. 

The assessment calendar helped me and many other students get organized. With a target each week for a set number of assessments, I was able to tailor each week’s studying for each assessment. Yet, there were significant drawbacks. First, since I was so focused on studying for certain subjects each week, I wasn’t able to focus on my other classes. I had to make up for it in my spare time. Also, if I had too many assessments in a certain week, I would often spend class time worrying over them or studying for them instead of paying attention in class. Accordingly, I had to spend extra time outside class revising course material I should have learned in class. Lastly, I would assign more importance to studying for my Higher Level (HL) classes instead of my Standard Level (SL) Classes, meaning that I would often neglect classwork and assessments for my SL classes until the last minute. 

Next, the subject pairings were irksome for students enrolled in two Higher Level subjects in the same group. For example, a student who took two Higher Level courses in social studies (Group 3) or the sciences (Group 4), would have to study for an extra assessment or two each week. My three higher level classes were Economics, Global Politics, and Mathematics. Since one of the subject pairings in the second semester of Junior year was Group 3 (Social Studies) and Group 5 (Mathematics). During those weeks, I had assessments for all three of my Higher Level subjects. Clearly, I was overwhelmed. This was a common concern echoed by other students including Vibhan (12), who takes three higher level science courses. 

But, how did this impact my overall workload? Well, other than being overwhelmed on some weeks and underwhelmed on others, I still found it helpful. I found that the alternating subject pairings allowed to me to completely focus on absorbing course knowledge and made sure that I never fell behind on the larger, more important assessments such as Internal Assessments (IAs), the Extended Essay (EE), Presentations, Written Tasks, FOAs and a whole host of other acronymized IB assessments. 

Alas, this year, things have changed. The new assessment policy divides tests into two categories: Major and Minor. This is tricky for incoming students as it means there are more assessments to be completed. It’s still quite early in the year to judge how effective this new policy is for students’ learning, but so far, I haven’t found it that troublesome as Minor assessments are generally shorter and cover less content than major assessments. 

In short, the assessment calendar may be problematic for some students, but it provides coherence and routine to an otherwise disorderly student life. As a senior, I realize that the structure of the assessment calendar allowed me to focus on revising for a few subjects at a time. Seeing as I had five assessments last week, I’m quite grateful it’s still in place during the Junior year.