Problem-solving in computer science invariably requires a clear description of a scenario (or context) that reflects a 'real-life' problem together with definitions of particular variables. Examinations naturally impose significant time constraints, especially when candidates have to read large quantities of text; nevertheless rather lengthy descriptions will be inevitable for some questions. Furthermore, the scenarios presented within examinations are frequently situated outside the experience of many candidates. This may not be just because of age, but also due to cultural and technological circumstances. The use of a Case Study should help to overcome these inequalities, whilst at the same time providing other assessment opportunities. Since the Case Study will be issued well in advance of the examination, it will allow students and teachers to familiarize themselves with the particular scenario and the language contained within it. Teachers will be able to collect enrichment, resource and background materials relevant to the scenario. They may wish to prepare their students in other ways, for example, by visits or using visiting speakers.
The aims of the Case Study are to:
The Case Study will consist of a booklet of several pages containing a variety of information. This will probably be mainly textual but may also contain information in the form of diagrams, flowcharts, algorithms, pictures/photographs, tables or graphs.
The Case Study is constructed by the senior examiners of IBO each year. The same Case Study will be used for both standard level and higher level examinations. The relevant number of Case Study booklets will be sent to schools as far in advance of the examination as possible. The same Case Study will be used for both examination sessions (May and November) in one year. "Clean" copies of the Case Study will accompany the examination papers.
For both standard and higher levels, one question in paper 2 will require an understanding of the information in the Case Study at the appropriate depth. Candidates will be free to consult the Case Study during the examination. This structured question may also test an understanding of other topics in the syllabus and other questions in paper 2 may also refer to information in the Case Study.