Embarking on the 2 year IB Diploma Program is a major transition for students, regardless of prior educational background. The IB DP is notorious for being a pretty demanding – but incredibly enriching – educational program. It is meant for students who seek a broad and challenging curriculum that helps them develop the skills needed for university success. Here are 5 tips to aid in a smoother transition into your IB program:
1. Read up on the IB subjects and curriculum
This is probably the first time in your educational journey that you will encounter such a wide array of subjects to pick from, but unfortunately, not the last. While overwhelming initially, you’ll find that in university, you’ll need to be able to sort through large amounts of information on different courses as well. In the IB, some subject choices might be new (e.g. Psychology or Philosophy). Familiar subjects such as Mathematics are also offered in different forms (e.g. Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (AA) and Mathematics Applications and Interpretations (AI)). It’s important to thoroughly review the syllabus of such subjects and be clear about what to expect before you make your choices. If possible, approach the IB subject teachers or coordinator at your school to clarify any questions you may have. Also, you may want to read about how to strategically pick your subjects to give yourself the best chance at success.
2. Get organised and pace yourself
If there’s one word that’ll define your IB experience, it’s time-management. It’s often said that IB DP is a marathon, not a sprint. Hence, it’s crucial that students pace themselves well. Students often underestimate how organised they will need to be, and how structured in their time they’ll need to be. Several assignments in the IB span months or even a year, and there will be a convergence of deadlines in the second year. If you leave things for later, you will inevitably feel rushed and overwhelmed. Instead, maintain a regular study schedule, develop effective revision strategies, keep your documents organized, and always start assignments early. Students who master these skills will be one step ahead.
3. Form good relationships with your teachers
The IB is a program that requires initiative and self-direction. Many of our students here at Prep Zone struggle with feeling like their teachers aren’t giving them enough direction. Expect that this will be the case. What is covered in class is not all that you need to know to do well in the IB. Take the initiative to form good relationships with your teachers right from the start and ask them how and what you can do for yourself outside of class time to get better at your subjects. Are there areas of knowledge or skill sets that will come in useful for the exams? Do they know of readings that are not on your reading list that would help you? Would they be willing to do an extra one-on-one consultation with you if you start working on your essay way in advance? As in a university program, the IB favours students who take learning and self-improvement into their own hands.
4. Use the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) component to explore activities that interest you
The IB is a holistic curriculum where students are expected to balance academic commitments with their extracurricular activities. As such, CAS is one of the elements of the DP core. While CAS is a mandatory element, you are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to pursue your own interests and skills through projects, clubs, community service, sports, and other co-curricular activities. Reflect on what types of activities you would like to explore, or whether you have any specific interests for which you would like to initiate activities.
5. Improve your writing skills
The IB DP is undoubtedly a writing-intensive program with almost every subject having written assignments as part of the overall assessment. You will encounter different forms of writing, whether it is scientific, interdisciplinary, or creative. Furthermore, you will also be expected to write an incredibly lengthy essay of 4000 words for the Extended Essay, one of the elements of the DP Core. You can get better at writing fundamentals by reading widely and practicing writing on a regular basis. At Prep Zone, we recommend that all students, regardless of their subject combinations, spend 30 minutes daily with a regular reading practice.