1. Establishing the Marks
1.1 In §6 of the Statutes it is stated that: ”The total number of marks awarded for the theoretical examination shall be 30 and for the experimental examination 20. The competition organiser shall determine how the marks are allocated within the examinations.”
1.2. During the meeting of the International Board (IB) of the IPhO where the problems are discussed, a detailed marking scheme has to be provided which will be approved by the IB, if more than 50% of all delegation leaders present at the meeting vote in the affirmative.
1.3. The number of marks should reflect the required performance of the contestant. This performance can have different features:
• a. knowledge and physical understanding
• b. algebraic evaluation (mathematical formulation)
• c. numerical evaluation and units
• d. problem solving strategy and knowledge on how to draw conclusions
• e. collecting data (from measurements)
• f. representing data (plotting data curve)
• g. data analysis and uncertainty (error) estimation
1.4. In the detailed marking scheme it is indicated which of the above is required.
2. Detailed requirements
2.1. All results per (sub)question need to be presented with it’s correct unit. Within a numerical or algebraic evaluation units are not demanded unless this is specifically asked for.
2.2. Drawings need to be completed with the necessary labels (i.e. numbers, letters, titles, …)
2.3. Tables need to indicate:
• a title or number
• per column the quantity
• the unit of the quantity
• the uncertainty (error) of the quantity (by measurement or by calculated uncertainty (error) estimation. (remark: numerical values of single data without an uncertainty are always useless since no comparison with other measurements or theoretical predictions can be made, unless the data are part of a series from which, by using statistics, an error estimation (or spread) can be calculated.)
2.4. Graphs need to fulfil:
• a title, a number or a name of the graph
• minimum sizes (i.e. at least half A4) and proper aspect ratio
• axes with the quantity and unit
• visible dots representing the coordinates of the data
• error bars when asked for in the question
• quality of the curve
2.5 Unless specified otherwise in the question, the student needs to state how they derived their uncertainty (error) estimations, equally acceptable either by graphical or theoretical methods.
3. The marking
3.1. The leading principle to mark is to award the contestant in accordance to the extent in which the required performance is met. Therefore marks will be added for every correct intermediate or final result; this in contrast to a system in which marks are subtracted for every error.
3.2. Per (sub)question the maximum of marks allotted has to be in accordance with the marking scheme.
3.3. The allotted marks will reflect to what extent the contestant has fulfilled the task.
3.4. Partial marks (0 – maximum) will be given when the performance is incomplete. This includes evaluations where for instance the final result is incorrect.
3.5. In case an error propagates in subsequent results, full marks will be given per intermediate and final result when no extra errors are made, unless the error clearly simplifies the calculations or the algebraic manipulations. In the latter case the degree of simplification should be reflected in the marks allotted.
3.6. At any stage the contestant should – if possible - reflect on the physical meaning of a(n) (intermediate) result. In case of wrong results only partial marks, if any, will be given. The reflection will regard:
• the unit of a quantity,
• the order of magnitude of a numerical result in accordance with the unit used,
• when in the case of error propagation the student remarks that the order (with respect to the unit) is wrong or that the unit is wrong, but when the student is unable to correct the error, no more than 2/3 of the marks should be allotted.
4. The Moderation
4.1 In the Regulation to §5 of the Statutes it is stated that: “The organisers shall provide the delegation leaders with copies of their students" scripts and allow at least 12 hours for them to mark the scripts.” The time allotted for the preliminary marking should be long enough to achieve a high quality of grading. This benefits the moderations, assures more fair results and increases the predictability of the number of awards.
4.2. The markers in the moderation should have excellent knowledge on the problem they moderate. It is preferred that these markers are the same as the ones that marked the papers of the contestants who are discussed with the team leaders.
4.3. The markers master English to the extent that a quick discussion on their marking is assured. In case the markers need translations the time for the moderation will be doubled.
4.4. In §3 of the Statutes it is stated that: “The delegation leaders must be specialists in physics or physics teachers, capable of solving the problems of the competition competently. Each of them should be able to speak English.” When the moderation is slowed down due to the fact that the delegation leaders do not meet these requirements, there will be no extra time allotted for the moderation.
4.5. In the Regulations to §7 of the Statutes it is stated that: “During the meeting of the graders where the final and most detailed version of the grading scheme is set, 3 members of the International Board will be present. They have the right to give advice to the group of graders in order to keep the grading scheme within the tradition of the IPhOs.” Since these members are elected by the International Board, which is the governing body of the Olympiad (see §7 of the Statutes), their advise is decisive.
4.6. After the leaders and graders accept the moderation results, the marks of the concerned contestants should be final. If there is any special reason for changing the grades, it has to obtain consent from the three representatives of the International Board.
(Remark: This is to avoid unnecessary competing by some leaders for the highest grade.)