Lawrence Drew, one of Owl Tutors Switzerland’s economics tutors, talks through the top five tips that he would recommend for achieving the best possible grades in the International Baccalaureate (“IB”). Lawrence performed the IB himself over ten years ago and has subsequently taught pupils on IB programs after having become a fully qualified teacher.
I feel like this advice may be a bit late for some people, but if you are in the process of considering whether to do the IB or have made the decision to do so and are picking your subjects, please pick them carefully. It is important to achieve a balance between your career aspirations, what you enjoy and your parental expectations (if applicable). The IB is one of the most difficult high school qualifications the planet has to offer and so picking subjects that you do not find interesting is not only going to make your life difficult for two years, but is also likely to have an adverse impact on your final results and limit your ability achieve your short term goals. People excel in things that they enjoy, but the world also has far too many sport scientists who are now PE teachers. The IB allows for a balanced education up to a high level, make the most of this by picking subjects that can help you reach your next educational career objectives whilst allowing you to enjoy yourself along the way.
With six different subjects on the go, including two languages, the Creativity, Action and Service (“CAS”) requirement, the Theory of Knowledge (“ToK”) and Extended Essay (“EE”), you are going to have your work cut out. Some people are naturally more organised than others. If you are reading this and know that organisation is not your strong point, you are the type of person that I am talking to. You can either take action and organise yourself now making your life and your ability to achieve your goals easy; or you can decide not too and make your life difficult come the final term before exams. Do it now. Create a timetable for the rest of your program and fill in when all assignments are due.
There should be something in here for everyone, so start with what you enjoy, the sooner that you get on top of your CAS requirements, the less pressure you will have on yourself later down the line when you need to provide evidence for what you have been doing. Make sure that you put everything that you are doing in a diary (see point above about organising yourself) so that you have an audit trail of everything that you have been doing.
The IB differs from the UK “A-Level” based system in that it is not modular. Although you will be able to begin to contribute towards your final marks with coursework, the majority of your grades depend on your performance in the final exams. This means that the IB is relatively back-end-loaded in relation to A-levels where you can build on your final result through AS-levels at the end of the first year of the A-level program. This means that it is even more important to get as much as you can done before the last term and having your extended essay complete with a good mark will help to take the pressure of you.
The IB has now been around for over 20 years and has not tended to be changed as much as domestic qualifications associated with other countries. In addition to this, it is reasonably easy to access IB past papers from a number of online sources. Make the most of this. The more practice that you will have with past papers, the more likely you are to excel in the final exams of the program.