After acing my GCSEs, the IB was the next conquest in my education, which I initially found hard but have now learnt how to make it easier. After going through half of the course and observing others, I’ve created this guide on how you can excel, survive and thrive in the IB. The IB is a full on course and may possibly be the most stressful 18 months of your life so far, which is why it’s key to know the best way to keep yourself organised and how to stay on top of your work.
- Choosing the right subjects
These could be the subjects that your target universities require, subjects that complement each other or just subjects that you enjoy. This is crucial as the course can be very trying and taking a subject you don’t need or dislike can just bring extra and unnecessary stress upon yourself. By the time you’re considering what sixth form to go to, you should have an idea of the career or area that you want to go into; this will help you decide which subjects you need to take. Universities also don’t look at the subjects you take at standard level, unless otherwise stated on their website, so standard level subjects should be chosen strategically- they should be subjects that you can easily get high grades in.
- Have a schedule
The key thing about this schedule is that it MUST be realistic! There is no point in setting time restraints that you can’t adhere to, otherwise there is no point to the schedule. Your schedule needs to factor in any extra-curricular activities, rest times and revision sessions. Organising your revision sessions is also very important. A general rule of thumb is spending double the amount of time on your highers than your standard. I personally devised a time ratio as some standard subjects may require more time than your other standard subjects. The same thing applies to your higher subjects. Each person will allocate time differently, depending on what grades you want to achieve and how much you struggle with a subject.
- Keep a record for CAS
CAS (creativity, activity and service) are vital aspects of the IB, so not keeping a satisfactory record can jeopardise you receiving your IB diploma so this tip is key. This record can be kept in the form of a journal, word document, spreadsheet or whatever form best suits you. What’s important is that the record should include what activities you’ve done, which strand they fall under and what you’ve learned or how you’ve developed from this activity. This record does not have to be very detailed but should contain enough information for your final CAS reflection which is given to students in year 13 and submitted to the IB board.
- Start IB with a running start
A mistake I made in the first couple of weeks of IB was not revisiting and recapping the content covered in class. From the beginning of the year course content is taught and this content could come up in your exams. By recapping content from the start, you are more likely to remember this information so when revising for mocks or end of unit tests, there’s less forgotten knowledge, and therefore less time of intense revision.
- Have fun!
Can the IB be full on? Definitely but you chose the IB for a reason, and that wasn’t to torture yourself. I personally took the IB as I wanted to continue studying languages and literature, making the IB perfect for me. You should be doing subjects that you have an interest in. Not only this but you can use CAS as an opportunity to do more than just studying. CAS gives you freedom to take part in a range of activities of YOUR choice, so ensure you choose activities that you will enjoy.