ITGS Paper 2 Exam Tips

ITGS Paper 2 exam

ITGS paper 2 is the unseen article exam. Here are some tips for approaching it:

The First 15 Minutes

  • The recommended reading time is 15 minutes. Use this time to highlight key parts of the article.
  • Colour code it – parts for each criteria.
  • Write a plan for criteria C and criteria D.
  • The worse thing you can do is start writing immediately when the examiner says the 5 minutes reading time is over.
  • Remember: If you misunderstand the article, your entire answer may be pointless – so read it once and then read it again (this has been a problem several times during practice papers).
  • Ask the invigilator for an English-Spanish dictionary if you are unsure of a word or phrase

Criteria A

  • Remember the issue you choose must be a concern, not a positive issue
  • There may be several issues: choose the strongest
  • Think forward to criteria C: are there lots of impacts for this issue?
  • Think forward to criteria D: is there a feasible solution to the impacts caused by this issue?

Criteria B

Describe, step by step, how the IT system works
  • Write in bullet points
  • Avoid “magic steps” where many things happen at once. For example: “Then the bar code is read and the bill is calculated” –
    this could be broken down into 3 or 4 separate steps.
  • You must go beyond the information in the article to score well, using technical language and detail.
Explain the relationship between the IT system and the social/ethical concern
  • This is not asking you to repeat criteria A. It is basically asking how the system caused the issue. Think about the unique characteristics of the IT system. For example: is it making data widely available to many users? Is it collecting behavioural information and making decisions about it? These would cause a privacy concern.

Criteria C

  • You now have two pages for this, so you have lots of space. But don’t write for the sake of it!
  • Avoid introductions “Well, there are lots of issues, some are positive and some are negative, and they affect different people.” Get straight to the point with a clear topic sentence about the first impact.
  • One issue will likely affect more than one stakeholder – make sure you include the relevant stakeholders.
  • Don’t forget balance – positive and negative impacts – many of you forgot this in the mock exam!
  • As always, analyse and evaluate
  • Do not include solutions here

Criteria D

  • Write one solution only. Examiners ignore any others
  • The solution must be feasible (realistic). In the “Underage drinkers” example, some of you said “to solve this problem the photographic database
    should be updated every week”. This isn’t realistic, and undermines the whole point of the system in the first place. Watch out for this.
  • The solution cannot be “stop using the system”
  • You must fully describe the solution – what it involves and how it would work
  • You must evaluate the solution – address its strengths and its weaknesses
  • Write one solution only. Examiners ignore any others
ITGS Paper 2 is a great way to score points, and we have done lots of practice – so put your knowledge to good use! Reading ITGS news articles is also a good way to prepare and to practise your analytical skills.


  1. The First 15 Minutes (expand where necessary)…
    • Read the article twice. First to get an idea of what it’s talking about. The second time go through highlighting relevant stakeholders, the IT system. Pay careful attention to identifying the stakeholders and IT system.

    • Make relevant notes in the margins of the article
    • Create short outline of the answers that you will give for Criteria A, B, C and D.
    • Put detail into planning C and D
    Criteria A
    • Answers don’t have to be perfect. This part is only worth 4 marks and therefore should only receive about 5 minutes of writing time.
    Describe (give a detailed account) one social/ethical concern related to the IT system
    • Think forward to Criteria B: Explain the relationship between the IT system and the social/ethical concern described in Criterion A.
    Describe the relationship of one primary stakeholder to the IT system.
    • Pay attention to the stakeholder chosen. Make sure the answer can be good.
    Criteria B
    Describe, step by step, how the IT system works
    • write in bullet points
    • Go beyond the information in the article, using technical language and detail
    Explain (give a detailed account including reasons and causes) the relationship between the IT system and the social/ethical concern described in Criterion A
    • How did the IT system cause the issue identified in Criterion A?
    Criteria C
    Evaluate (make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations) the impact of the social/ethical issues on the relevant stakeholders.
    • Get straight to the point with a clear topic sentence about the first impact
    • Have both positive and negative impacts
    • Do not include solutions here. However, think forward to Criteria D (evaluate one solution that addresses at least one problem identified in Criterion C)
     Solution should be IT related for best marks
    • Focus on the two key advantages and disadvantages for each stakeholder

    During the 15 minutes drafting a plan, for Criterion C:
    1. Identify stakeholders (include all relevant stakeholders)
    2. List advantages and disadvantages of one stakeholder, then move onto the next stakeholder

  2. Hey Mr. Gray I was looking at the ITGS guide and it said there would be 'additional vocabulary' for the May 2014 exams (when I'm writing). Would you mind telling me what these are? Are they included in your textbook? Thanks

  3. Hello Mr.Gray, Could you please give us some more example questions to find the relationship between IT system and the concern? (Like one example suggested was is it making data available to many users? and that links to privacy concern)

    • Well the question will always be the same, so what you really need is example articles. I suggest looking at the IB past paper 2s – there are a few of these available now (May and November 2012-2013).

    • I meant not the paper 2 question, but the detailed question that I can use to come up with the answer for the paper 2 question. Like in the note above, you gave us some guide questions for criterion b 2, "is it making data widely available to many users? Is it collecting behavioural information and making decisions about it? These would cause a privacy concern."

    • OK, I see. Well it is hard without reference to a specific article.

      For example a recent Paper 2 was about university admissions officers using the information on students' social networking pages to make judgments about them (and potentially rejecting them). What is the relationship between the IT system and the issue? What characteristics of the social networks make this issue possible?

      Well, perhaps the social network lacks detailed privacy controls (e.g. Twitter) so posts (Tweets) are public, or perhaps the student didn't activate the privacy controls. Perhaps the IT system allows 'friends' to post information about you or tag you in material that is not appropriate, and the social network allows others (like the university) to see this.

      The key question to ask yourself is "What characteristic / features of this technology makes the problem possible?".

  4. Hi Mr.Gray, for paper 2 criterion c, do we only have to mention about the impacts related to the social and ethical issue stated as my criterion a? For example, I chose privacy of patient's information as my concern but in criterion c, I wanna write about reliability and ohter impacts related to other social concerns.

    • Since criterion D gives a specific instruction saying to relate it to Criterion C, whereas criterion C doesnt, does that mean we dont need to care too much about the Criterion A on criterion C?

    • You should never just "mention" something; you need more detail than that. The markscheme for the highest marks in criteria C says that you need to fully analyse and evaluate the impacts of the social / ethical issue.

      Should you focus on the issue you described in criteria A? Yes. That is your focus, so you need to select it carefully.

      There may be other related issues you can talk about, but think about it this way: if you took the entire answer as one whole essay (which effectively it is), wouldn't it be a bit strange to describe one issue in the introduction (criteria A) and then in the body (criteria C) say nothing about that and focus on something different instead?

  5. One question, my teacher always told me not to write in the bullet points in criterion B, to do it in continuous writing, so, is not there a problem in both ways?

    • Above, I recommend bullet points for the first part (step by step process) only. I find this makes it easier to distinguish the individual steps, avoid “magic” steps, and ensure you have written enough steps.

      However, you should do as your teacher suggests because s/he probably had a good reason for making that recommendation.

  6. In criterion C :- If its social and ethical issue or concern then why we have to write balance answer? Why is the need to write positive points about concern?

    • The advice is very general advice (which is hard to give). Many issues have two sides. If the issue raised is purely a concern, there can still be two ‘sides’ to it: for example, it may be a significant concern for one group of stakeholders, but a minor concern for another group.

      Concerns also usually arise because of a ‘positive’ issue for another group of stakeholders. For example, privacy concerns may be raised about data collection, but the data is being collected for the benefit of some other stakeholder. I hope that makes sense.

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