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written, it implied that we would have to be extra careful when developing our questions not to simply test factual knowledge, but to find a way to force ourselves to develop questions that tested reasoning and the application of knowledge instead. Since IBO participants are to be assessed based on their scientific abilities, it was obvious to us that we should thus try to focus on MTF question that were built around the most basic of all scientific principles, namely the design and interpretation of experiments and the application of theoretical results to generate predictions. The stem of most of our questions thus described a recent experiment or theoretical result and the four individual statements tested the ability of the participants to understand experimental protocols, to detect flaws in the experimental design, to interpret the results of an experiment correctly and to use obtained results to make accurate predictions. This allowed us to combine statements testing different concepts or ideas based on a common stem, and we hoped it would also make the exam interesting for students, as they would actu­ ally learn about a lot of scientific achievements that were recently published.

6. 2. 2  Preparing the Theoretical Exam In order to have a diverse input of question topics, each institute of the Department of Bio­logy of the University of Bern prepared their share of initial draft questions. This also allowed us to meet the additional goal to design questions to a large extent around topics in which the university is currently actively conducting research. In each institute, one or two persons were in charge of handling the communication between the IBO 2013 organizers and the staff involved in question writing (see Chapter 3 . 2 ). These people were initially briefed on the format of the theoretical questions, as well as in specific requirements to ensure high quality questions, and later took the role to motivate other people in the institute to write questions or to coach them, to some degree, on the requirements. The draft questions were then submitted to the review committee, which was the central com­ mittee in charge of assembling the theoretical exams ( FIGURE 6 .7, and Chapter 3. 2. 2). The review c­ ommittee was composed entirely of people that were involved in both National and Inter­national Biology Olympiads and had hence a long experience in writing and discussing similar types of questions. The idea behind such a composition was to guarantee that the final questions had a high chance of passing smoothly through the international jury. In order to further strengthen the quality of the review, all committee members attended a half day course on question writing organized together with the Institute of Medical Education from the University of Bern. In addition to those questions submitted by the university staff, the review committee also accepted questions from IBO member countries. All questions received were classified into three different categories: A) interesting question to keep for formal improvement, B) not usable in its current form but presenting an interesting topic or C) not interesting enough to keep for further discussion. While only few questions received from IBO member countries could be classified as A or B, most questions we received from the university staff were clas­ sified in category B. In other terms, most of these questions contained really interesting ideas and concepts, but suffered from formal issues. In total, about 2 /3 of the final questions were based on input from the university staff, but only a handful were based on input from questions received from IBO member countries. The remaining questions were written by members of the review committee themselves to cover missing topics.

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IBO 2013 Final Report  
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