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IB Diploma Programme News

29 October 2015

On Wednesday 4 November, it’s the Year 12 Student Parent Teacher Conference and a time to reflect upon the progress of our students in the first year of the IB Diploma programme.  Year 12 is a particularly important time in the life of an IB Diploma student. 

We encourage our students to develop the attitudes of self-discipline and independent learning that will help them cope more effectively with the challenges that lie ahead when Internal Assessment deadlines come thick and fast in the second year of the programme.  The most effective students will go beyond the homework that is set by teachers and take responsibility for addressing areas of weakness and for keeping on top of the curriculum content.

Over the last week, we have been sharing feedback with our Year 12 students from the ALIS tests that were done at the start of the year. Those tests allow us to identify a ‘BISS  Puxi target’ which is what a student with similar ALIS test scores should achieve if they do what we would consider to be a normal amount of work. Each student has been encouraged to aspire to a ‘Golden Target’ – a higher grade that they can achieve by doing more work than other IBDP students around the world and which is determined in a short meeting between each student and their teachers.

For students in Year 13, final submission for the Extended Essay (November 9) and the start of the mock examinations (November 23) are fast approaching. Schedules for the mock examinations have now been released to students via Managebac along with some tips on revision strategies.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB

Creativity, Activity, Service

This week, Daniel Tafelski answers some questions about his CAS experience at the Qing Pu Xiu Long Migrant school

What the ECA is about?

The Migrant School ECA involves visiting the Qing Pu Xiu Long School and spending part of the afternoon after school with the younger students there, teaching them various important skills and lessons, as well as passing on experiences and personal knowledge that could help them in future. Everyone that attends the ECA has a ‘Buddy’, whom they teach individually and help with projects that are undertaken during the sessions. The ECA is all about helping others, and working collaboratively to create lesson plans that will teach younger, less fortunate, but extremely eager and enthusiastic children about subjects such as Science, Art and Music with equipment and knowledge they may not have access to. I also think that it is about improving oneself and expanding ones horizons, so that you’re not only helping those that are in your immediate environment, but also those that may perhaps need your assistance, but cannot get it as easily. 

Why did you choose this ECA?

I choose to join the Migrant School ECA in order to not only help others that are less fortunate than I am and be a role model to them, but also to shape myself as a person and become a better human being. I enjoy helping and teaching others, as well as working collaboratively to devise lesson plans and come up with creative ideas that can benefit the children. As well as being part of a CAS service, I have always been interested in using and improving my Chinese skills be teaching and helping out in some of the less well-off areas of Shanghai.

What do you enjoy about it?

When I had first joined the ECA, I was quite nervous and not sure how interesting or exciting teaching younger students would be, as my Chinese isn’t perfect and I haven’t had much experience teaching Chinese children. However as it turned out, it is an extremely great experience and very entertaining and amusing. The students there are always well behaved, enthusiastic and eager to learn, which makes teaching them a very enjoyable process for the buddies and us. Helping the kids is always something I look forward to and going to one of the sessions is always a pleasure as I can constantly improve my communication and leadership skills as well as become a better role model to them.

What do you find challenging?

At times, it is challenging to find the right Chinese vocabulary to use with my two buddies or when talking to the whole group, and it can sometimes be quite daunting trying to calm down 15 or so enthusiastic and overexcited students at the beginning of the session, although they always calm down soon after and there is always a great atmosphere. At other times, it may be challenging thinking of activities to do with the students, whether its ice breaking games or others, we always have to take the limited time into account, so it is quite difficult to calculate how long we will take as the children sometimes take longer than expected. Also, I was quite nervous with being our group leader as I thought my language skills weren’t quite good enough, however I realized that the students didn’t mind and they could always understand a little bit of English.

What have you learned?

I believe that within these few sessions, I have already improved my leadership, organization and communication skills by working with the migrant school children and collaboratively with my group. Additionally, I think that I have become a role model for my two buddies and have gotten to know them quite well. I have learnt how to approach nervous students and help them understand what we are doing, as well as how to be a better person on the whole.

Daniel Tafelski 12P

Higher Education University Visits

At the start of this week, students at BISS Puxi welcomed the City University of Hong Kong to its campus. The University is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 Universities, and students were able to discover more about its particular areas of strength in Business and Engineering, along with finding out more about the university’s joint degree programme with Columbia University in the United States. Of particular note for International Students from many countries around the world are the university’s International Scholarship programmes which automatically provide eligible students with generous financial benefits if they are successful in their applications.

On Tuesday 27 October, the school hosted a presentation and university fair from four top-ranking University of London Institutions – King’s College London, St. George’s Medical School, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). The event was extremely popular, providing Year 12 students with essential information about studying in London. It also provided Year 13 students with some additional insights to help them complete their university applications over the next few weeks.

All four universities run Summer School Programmes, and whilst most summer schools open up their application process in Term 2, students interested in applying for the St. George’s Medical Summer School should be aware that applications are now open. Students should make an application by the end of this term if they are to have the best chance of successfully securing a place by visiting here. Students interested in the RVC Pre-Vet summer school can register their interest here and students should remember that the RVC offers courses in a range of subject areas such as Biological Sciences, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security, and is not just for those interested in becoming vets!

University offers

A number of Year 13 students have this week completed Early Applications to the USA, and students who have submitted applications to the UK have already seen offers coming in, including offers from Russell Group Institutions such as King’s College London, Queen Mary, University of London and the universities of Bristol, Birmingham, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester and Southampton. With many more applications yet to be submitted, we look forward to keeping you updated on students’ progress.

Mark Weston, Head of Higher Education Guidance

Coursework and examinations

It has been another week with students showing good commitment to deadlines and also demonstrating good communication with their teachers. We are very happy with the progress being made and believe this is a good sign for students’ success as they will be well prepared for the final exams in May/June time.


Due Date


German A written task 2 1st draft


German A

Korean A IOC


Korean A

Chinese B HL oral


Chinese B HL

Economics IA2 final deadline



November Mock Exams

The overview of these exams was published last week and this week the exact timings of the exams have been published to students this week. We want to make the experience as real as possible so students will be better prepared for the real thing next summer. With this in mind we ask that students come to exams with the correct equipment and 10 minutes early so they can be seated not in a rush but calmly; putting them in the right frame of mind for their exam.

Now students have their schedule they should be planning their revision timetable leading up to the exams, factoring in any other work they must do for subjects as well as revision for each exam. We encourage parents to be involved in this to help their motivation at what will be a busy time.

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”

Thomas Housham, DP Coordinator

Explaining the Diploma Programme

Each week, we shall be focusing on one particular aspect of the Diploma Programme. This week I shall write about assessment in the Diploma Programme.

Essentially, there are three forms of assessment – Internal Assessment, Externally assessed examination and Externally assessed non-examination components.

All subjects have some form of Internal Assessment which is typically around 20% of the final grade, but can be more in Group 6 subjects. Work is assessed (using common assessment criteria) by the class teacher and internally moderated within the subject department (meaning the teachers of that subject meet to assess work together and to agree on marking standards). Once the marking is completed, a sample of work is sent to the IBO for external moderation which can result in an adjustment of the grades.

Externally assessed non-examinations include components such as Extended Essay , TOK Essay and Language A Written Tasks. These are either uploaded or sent to an IBO examiner who then assesses the work. Each examiner has a sample of their own work moderated by a senior examiner.

The final examination papers are, of course, sent to the IBO who then scan those papers for e-marking by examiners. There are quite rigorous checks on the accuracy of each examiner’s marking including qualification papers that they must assess before being allowed to do live marking and random seeds placed among their marking allocations which give an ongoing assessment of their accuracy.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB


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