A conversation with our Publishing Director, Sophie

We asked Sophie Russell, our Publishing Director, about her previous experience working for the IB and how the idea for the Revise IB series came about. Here’s some of what she had to say!

What led you to pursue a career in publishing, and how did you get started in the industry?

After finishing my English Lit MA at Cardiff University, I was lucky enough to get a job working for the IB in Cardiff. This was in 2008 just as preparations were being made to move to a new global centre (which would turn out to be The Hague, where I also eventually moved). I was thrilled to have got a job in the publishing industry. However, nothing could have prepared for me how much I would go on to love international educational publishing in particular. I couldn’t imagine a better career.

Could you tell us about some of the notable projects you’ve worked on in the past and what your role was in those projects?

When I was at the IB, I worked as Commissioning Editor for many projects including the MYP workbooks, the Ten Tales from Different Cultures series and IB Prepared – as well as many (many!) Exam Packs and Questionbanks. My favourite thing by far was visiting schools all over the world and getting feedback from teachers and students on resources.

How did you come up with the idea for Revise IB, and what inspired you to pursue it?

In my visits to schools, educators would consistently ask for books for lower-candidature subjects. Even after I left the IB, it really stuck with me that there was so little support for some subjects. We started Extend Education with the mission to publish for as many lower-candidature subjects as possible. We started with exam practice books as there seemed to be a huge confidence gap in students taking their exams. Those who understood what the questions were asking did really well. Those who didn’t understand, didn’t do as well. We want to change that.

How did you go about selecting the authors for the revision books, and what qualities were you looking for in them?

We looked for people with a passion for teaching their subject, and particular expertise in preparing students for their exams. Being able to write assessment questions and markschemes requires a very specific set of skills – you need to be able to think about each individual question in relation to the whole paper, the markschemes, the topics that you cover, and what students might have seen from previous IB exam assessments. It wasn’t enough to just be able to create exam papers, however. We also wanted authors who could connect with students so that the advice in the book was clear, and so students could feel confident that they can go on to deliver what examiners were looking for.  

What do you hope students will gain from using these exam practice books, and how do you envision them being used by students and teachers?

The Revise IB TestPrep Workbooks can be used as a supplement to classroom instruction, with students completing the sample exams independently at home or with the guidance of their teachers. 

The ultimate aim of the series is to help students to build confidence and reduce exam anxiety. The books are designed to ensure that students become familiar with the types of questions they will encounter in the exam and develop effective exam strategies. In particular, they teach the meaning of the command terms used in the exams and, therefore, what questions are actually asking for. By using the books as a tool for review and practice, students can feel more prepared and confident when it comes time to take their IB exams.

– Thanks very much Sophie for taking the time to talk to us!

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