Navigating the Inscrutible Vade Mecum

by Tom Hemingway

What used to be the Vade Mecum is now called the Handbook of Procedures for the Diploma Programme. I rather liked "Vade Mecum" because it conveyed an esoteric quality that had meaning only to the initiated. "Handbook", on the other hand, sounds like something easy to understand and easy to carry around. The Vade Mecum is neither. I plan to devote some creative writing to this topic someday, but for now this page is strictly business.

1. Learn the layout of the sections.

Each section of the Handbook has its own Table of Contents and its own page numbering. There is no index. Become familiar with the general themes in each section, but keep in mind that many topics are covered in different sections, and the treatment of the same topic may be different in different sections. Oddly, only one section (Section A) is titled "Important Information", but don't let that fool you.

2. Learn to love the digitial version.

I strongly recommend that you use a recent version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader and learn the basics of using the reader. In particular, learn the Search and Bookmark functions. Use the "Full Reader Search" to track all the pages that discuss a particular topic, and use the Comments tools to add your own notes and highlights. Use the Bookmarks feature (click on the icon on the left side of the pane) to open a table of contents that you can navigate.

3. Make photocopies of the most important sections and highlight the relevant items

It's a good idea to highlight the relevant items, carry them around in your planner, and share copies with colleagues.
  • Session calendar (end of Section A)
  • Scale of fees (end of Section H)
  • Exam schedule (beginning of Section G)
  • Conditions for the award of the IB diploma (Section A. subsection V). Or you can use a worksheet I created: click here to get the form from the TED IB Exams wiki

4. Some sections of the Handbook are available for download

as separate documents from the IBNET Library, and are useful to upload to the Extended Essay wiki or the Exams wiki, or to reproduce for students and faculty:
  • Examination Schedule (IBNET Library --> Examinations)
  • Scale of Fees (IBNET Library --> Examinations)
  • Conduct of the Examinations (IBNET Library --> Examinations)
  • Data booklets for Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics (IBNET Library --> Examinations)