The MYP curriculum is designed to be holistic and dynamic. This can mean that schools and teachers vary a lot in how they conduct classes, and it can be hard for students to know exactly what is expected. In this article, we hope to explain the MYP criteria system and show how you can excel in the pre-diploma programme!

So what do the criteria judge?

The exact definitions of each criterion change from one subject to another, so it is hard to say definitively what they all mean. However, as educators in the MYP, we think that in general:

  • Criterion A assesses a student’s ability to inquire, gain knowledge, and develop understanding.
  • Criterion B assesses a student’s ability to organise ideas, notice patterns, and design solutions.
  • Criterion C assesses a student’s ability to produce material, communicate effectively, solve problems creatively, and take decisive action.
  • Criterion D assesses a student’s ability to reflect, actively apply solutions, and think critically.

From the above descriptions it’s already easy to see how much overlap there is between the different criteria, and hard to say for sure whether a certain skill should be assessed as Criterion A or Criterion C or any of the others! If you start a scientific investigation by interviewing your classmates, should you be assessed on your inquiring skills, on your effective communication, maybe on your ability to design solutions? It’s not very clear!

How about a specific example? It will be a little easier to see how this works in practice, so let’s use Mathematics as an example.

Criterion A – Knowing & Understanding:

  • Select appropriate mathematics when solving problems in both familiar and unfamiliar situations
  • Apply the selected mathematics successfully when solving problems
  • Solve problems correctly in a variety of contexts

Criterion A assignments is a way for the teacher to see that the student can apply the first principles they have learned in class to new problems. The goal is to see if the student understands the content taught in class and if he or she can come up with their own solution.

To improve your Criterion A grades, you should spend more time reviewing various subject materials, including past papers and targeted practices. Repeated testing and practices can help improve your understanding of concepts and aid in problem-solving, We recommend you to try questions from the past 10 year exam sets and write your own notes as you go along. This will help you to learn textbook content and review practices in a productive manner.

Criterion B – Investigating Patterns:

  • Select and apply mathematical problem-solving techniques to discover complex patterns
  • Describe patterns as general rules consistent with findings
  • Prove, or verify and justify, general rules

For this criterion, teachers will be looking to see a student identify patterns in a set of data or a mathematical problem, find the relationship that explains this pattern, and use their mathematical know-how to back up their conclusion. A student may be asked to find a proof for their proposed theory, or justify their explanation of the data, and teachers will be looking for their students to incorporate their own creative ideas in their work.

Work assessed on this criterion will often be mathematical investigations, and usually a mix of both in-class and at-home work. This encourages students to develop their independent mathematical intuition and gives them the time and space to really dive into researching a large and complex problem. This kind of work prepares students really well for things like the Extended Essay in the DP, so it’s really important to put the work in here!

If you want to improve on your Criterion B work, the first thing you should do is to start looking for more mathematical patterns! When you’re out and about in the world, notice anything mathematical that you come across and try to imagine how you might investigate that in an investigation. How exactly do the notes of a police siren get higher and lower as it passes you? What kind of shape does water make as it sloshes down the pipes in the sink? How could you find a quick way to count the number of hairs on someone’s head? Once you start noticing these questions in your daily life, you’ll find your creative mind is already whirring with ideas when you sit down to do your Criterion B investigations!

Criterion C – Communicating:

  • Use appropriate mathematical language (notation, symbols and terminology) in both oral and written explanations
  • Use appropriate forms of mathematical representation to present information
  • Move between different forms of mathematical representation
  • Communicate complete, coherent and concise mathematical lines of reasoning
  • Organise information using a logical structure

This criterion is easily applied to all your maths work, from your problem sheets to your investigations – and even your exams. A teacher wants to see not just that their student understands the problem, but can express their understanding well too. A good test for yourself is to imagine that someone who knows nothing about the problem is reading your answer to it – would it make sense to them? Have you answered every part of the question fully, while also organising your answer in a way that is easy to follow? Are all of your drawings and symbols clear? Have you made sure not to forget a square root symbol, or missed a unit on one of your answers? Keeping these questions in your mind as you write can be a super helpful check to make sure you are always communicating well.

Like with Criterion A, the best thing you can do to improve here is practice, practice, practice! The more questions you write, the better you will get at expressing your ideas. Get your parents to read over your work and ask them if they understand what you’ve done. You can also ask your teacher to read over some of your extra practice problems, and they will be more than happy to give you advice on how you could improve.

Criterion D – Applying mathematics in real-life contexts:

  • Identify relevant elements of authentic real-life situations
  • Select appropriate mathematical strategies when solving authentic real-life situations
  • Apply the selected mathematical strategies successfully to reach a solution
  • Justify the degree of accuracy of a solution
  • Justify whether a solution makes sense in the context of the authentic real-life solution

Criterion D is about reflection, justification, explanation, and practicality. Being able to explain a mathematical concept clearly and logically is very important to a teacher. This is best assessed when doing investigations, especially in the conclusion or results sections. To do well, you will also have to think about how all the work that you complete could be applied to a particular assignment, understand the gaps and flaws in a mathematical model, or in an investigation procedure.

This guide aims to help understand the MYP grading system, and to give you more confidence going into your next summative assessment. We hope this has also helped improve your understanding of the various subject areas. If you still have any questions please feel free to reach out to us directly.