preparing for the ib exams

i know that the ib is super stressful, and thinking about the exams usually ends in a headache. having a plan, though, will help you structure your studies and break your tasks down to smaller, more bearable study sessions. here are the steps i went through before the exams, and they really helped me!

  1. ask your teachers for your predicted grades
    • Don't get discouraged by your predicted grades! Try not to see them as an ineffability, but a gage of how much you need to study in that subject. I was predicted a 5 in biology at the most, provided I put in a lot of time for it, and I ended up getting a 6! The same thing happened in German.
    • But also, don't take them for granted. I was predicted a 7 in geography, and ended up getting a 6 (probably because I ended up studying a little less for geography and a little more for math), and in art I was predicted a 6-7, and got a 4. The predicted grades aren't certain and your teachers are biased.
  1. create a study schedule
  • here were my predicted grades and my schedule based on that:

  1. read the syllabus
    • it's really important to know and understand the syllabus because that's something that is in your control. the syllabus is kind of like a little cheat sheet given to you, so use it!
  1. read the syllabus
    • it's really important to know and understand the syllabus because that's something that is in your control. the syllabus is kind of like a little cheat sheet given to you, so use it!
  1. find your learning style
    • whether it be visual, naturalistic, or auditory, find your style and use it to your advantage! You can take a quiz to find your learning style, and I actually have a post dedicated to learning styles with techniques for each style!
  1. study the syllabus based on your learning style
    • For example, I'm mainly a visual, auditory, and musical learner, So I watched a lot of videos and animations, listened to those cheesy songs to help you remember, and made my own study guides to summarize the syllabus in a visual way that I could understand.
    • Tip- in subjects like geography, business, biology, or ess where you have to explain a lot, make your notes based on a lot of different sources. Most of my study guides had around 3-8 different sources going into each of them, based on my understanding of the subject. Looking at sources other than your course book shows that you put in a lot of research to it (e.g. For geography, don't use the case studies in the book, look up your own)
  1. past papers
    • this is the best way to prepare for exams because then you know what to expect and have practiced how to phrase your answers. I would suggest doing as many as possible. For math, I did every paper in my reach, and it helped a lot to improve my grade. Some ways to study with past papers are to:
      • time yourself and write your answer, then check the mark scheme after and grade yourself and grade according to that
      • ask a friend to look over your answers if they're willing (and do the same for them) to get a second opinion
      • write the questions on flashcards with the basic points of an answer on the back

— you can usually find past papers on reddit, and all of them temporarily available here

  1. keep studying!
    • after i had made my study guides and did past papers for each subject, i just kept repeating those two steps. i had kind of a cycle for both; study my guides, take a past paper quiz, then add any information to my notes and study what i didn't understand, then take another quiz, and so on.
    • it was important to me that i only studied the same amount that i had in the months before so that i didn't burn myself out. for most subjects it worked, but for math i waited too long to study and ended up working on math 8 hours a day for 5 days in a row before the exams. i raised my grade from a 2 average to a 3 on the past papers, but i was still extremely tired every single day and during the exams. learn from my (and a lot of other ib student's) mistakes and start as early as possible! i rationalized not studying math earlier because i also needed to study my other subjects, which was true, but i should have started earlier for math.

other little tips

  • eat enough and well so that you have enough energy to study. live strong has a list of some good brain foods
  • sleep enough. teenagers are recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep (and young adults 7-9 hours) everyone’s different, so it might be an hour or two over or under, but most people should aim for the recommended amount. to help myself sleep, i have a nighttime routine of drinking bedtime tea, reading a book, and going to bed at the same time every day (plus or minus an hour or so).
  • balance. find something that relaxes you; sports, painting, dancing, hiking, spending time with friends, reading, whatever it be. just make sure you have some time away from studying to recharge