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Monthly Archives: December 2017

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Ancient Africa: Gold and Salt Trade

For the 2nd Quarter, the class has been learning about Ancient African Empires. We focused on Ghana and discovered how salt was very much valued. In fact, Africans even traded gold for it! One activity the students did was to perform a salt preservation experiment. Using apple slices, they submerged them into different solutions using lemon, vinegar, and salt. The control variable was an untreated apple slice. After about four days, the students were pleased to see that the slice treated with salt solution was the most preserved. Here are my kids’ experiment:



They also watched a Teded video on how ancient Egyptians used various alkaline salts to preserve mummies. They agreed that salt is indeed important!

We also did a simulation of the ancient gold and salt trading that occurred in Western Africa. The students were divided into groups, namely Wangarans, North Africans, and Soninkes. Then, they had to do ‘silent trading’ with the help of the Soninkes. The objective was to collect as many pairs of salt and gold as possible despite the obstacles set-up in the classroom to imitate the African geographical landscape.


Here are the kids hurdling the obstacles!

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BM Exam tips

(adapted from Business Management, 3rd ed., Paul Hoang. pp. 582-591)

Tip #1 Learn your command terms. Refer to your notes and  BM subject guide.

What is “evaluation”?

  • Evaluation compares different views about a business management issue or problem.
  • Views and arguments are substantiated with examples and evidence provided where possible.
  • Evaluation requires a reasoned (justified) conclusion.
  • Judgment is made about which argument holds most significance.

What is “examination”?

  • ‘Examine’ means the assessment of a business management issue or problem.
  • It requires he weighing up of the relative importance of different arguments.
  • ‘Examine’ as a command term considers a balanced, two-sided argument.
  • It requires current real-world examples to add substance to your answers.


Tip #2 – Learn the structure of the exam papers

Paper 1 assesses all five topics of the syllabus. It is based on a pre-seen case study, usually around 10 pages in length, and based around a hypothetical organization. There will be additional unseen material added to both sections B and C in the final exam. The Paper 1 examination accounts for 35% of the exam and consists of the following structure:

• Section A [HL and SL] – answer three of the four structured questions (30 marks)

• Section B [HL and SL] – answer the compulsory structured question (20 marks)

• Section C [HL only] – answer the compulsory question using mainly HL topics (20 marks).

Paper 2 is the largest component of the exam, accounting for 40% of the examination. All assessment objectives(AO1 to A04) are tested in all three sections. Paper 2 consists of the following structure:

• Section A [HL and SL] – answer one of the two quantitative questions (20 marks)

• Section B – SL students answer one and HL students answer two of the three structured questions from Units 1 to 5 of the syllabus (20 marks per question)

• Section C [HL and SL] – answer one of the three conceptual essays with a focus on the CUEGIS concepts that underpin the Business Management course (20 marks)

Tip #3 – Plan your revision carefully.

It is easy to leave everything at the last minute. Avoid using your gadgets and social media. Do NOT procrastinate! Revise sections of the syllabus in manageable sessions, following a well-structured revision timetable.

It is vital to build in revision time to learn your quantitative methods. There are plenty of formulae to learn, especially as not all of them are given in the formulae sheets (pages 87-89 of the Business Management guide), including:

  • Average costs (Unit 3.2)
  • Break-even output (Unit 3.3)
  • Closing balance (Unit 3.7)
  • Margin of safety (Unit 3.3)
  • Net profit (Unit 3.4) Payback period (Unit 3.8)
  • Reducing balance depreciation (Unit 3.4)
  • Variance (Unit 3.9)

Below is a list of some of the things you could try as part of your revision plan:

• Use the BM syllabus (pages 24-49) as a starting point when planning your revision.

• Draw up a revision plan for each week – and stick to it! Some flexibility might be necessary but remain focused and disciplined.

• Take careful note of the Assessment Objectives in the syllabus as examiners use these when setting exam questions!

• Allocate more time to the topics that you find most difficult.

• Build in time for sufficient rest breaks and recreation; a refreshed mind is a more productive one.

Tip #4 – Learn the quantitative methods

The BM syllabus incorporates many quantitative techniques (HL topics shown in italics) such as:

  • Decision trees (Unit 1.7)
  • Investment appraisal (Unit 3.8)
  • Budgeting(Unit 3.9)
  • Cash flow forecasting (Unit 3.7)
  • Balance Sheets (Unit 3.4)
  • Depreciation (Unit 3.4)
  • Profit and Loss accounts (Unit 3.4)
  • Ratio analysis (Units 3.5and 3.6)
  • Gantt charts (Unit 1.7)
  • Market share (Unit 4.1)
  • Costs and revenue (Unit 3.2)
  • Break-even analysis (Unit 3.3)
  • Cost to make (Unit 5.5)
  • Four-part moving averages (Unit 4.3)

It is important to learn these quantitative techniques and to be able to use them to aid decision-making. Whilst students are given a formulae sheet in the actual BM exams, you are not provided with the formula for the following:

    • Average cost
    • Break-even point
    • Capital employed
    • Closing balance
    • Cost of goods sold
    • Gross profit
    • Labour turnover
    • Lead time
    • Market share
    • Net assets
    • Net cash flow
    • Net profit
    • Payback period
    • Re-order quantity
    • Safety margin
    • Straight line depreciation
    • Total costs
    • Unit contribution
    • Variance
    • Working capital

Again, make sure you learn the definitions and the formulae for the above.

Tip #5 – Practice, practice, practice

Have a go at answering the questions under timed conditions – especially the quantitative questions. There’s nothing like applying BM to a case study about motivation or leadership to really reinforce your knowledge and understanding.