How to stop your IAs from losing marks
A step-by-step guide for annotating your IAs using PDF marking tools

Travis DixonInternal Assessment (IB)

Every IB Psychology teacher has had their IAs moderated down at some point in their career and it's not a nice feeling. Here's some tips to help stop it from happening to you.

Have had your IAs lose marks after moderation? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This post will give you a step-by-step guide on how to annotate your IAs so you won’t lose marks.

For years my top IAs would all come down a few marks and my lowest ones would go up a couple. We are given IA feedback from moderators but for various reasons it’s not very helpful. However, after I started getting my students to submit their work by PDFs and writing detailed annotations, my IAs stopped getting moderated. Is this correlation or causation? I’m not sure. But I do know that I like this quick and easy way to leave comments on students work.

For years I trialled with various ways of adding comments, including google docs, word docs, hand-written and others. I’ve found the PDF tools the most effective and easiest to use.

Tips for effective comments

  1. Use the language of the rubric.
  2. Cover all criterion in the rubric.
  3. Comment on positives and negatives – i.e. things that students have done well, have attempted but not done well, things they’ve missed, etc.
  4. Use the comments to highlight and possibly explain things that students have done that might be out of the ordinary.
  5. Don’t use post-its on the papers – they all get added to the top page and so are less effective.

From an IA moderator: Teacher comments on the IA papers are helpful because we can see exactly how and why the marks were awarded. While comments on attached rubrics or in the IBIS provided boxes are helpful, seeing the comments right next to the relevant section is much more effective.

Step One: Open the IA as a PDF in Adobe Reader.

Step Two: Click on the “Tools” button.

Step Three: Click “Add/Edit Textbox” button.

Step Four: Adjust the font size, style and colour to your preference.

I recommend Courier, 8, red.

Step Five: Click where you want to write a comment and start writing.

This short video also provides a step-by-step explanation.