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How to Prepare for the IB Diploma: Top 10 Study Tips

19/06/20239 minute read
How to Prepare for the IB Diploma: Top 10 Study Tips

Interested in learning about how to prepare for an ace the IB Diploma? Read on to discover the top tips from two recent IB students who have now gained admission to Oxford and Cornell!

What is the International Baccalaureate (IB)?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is an internationally recognised school curriculum that aims to foster open-minded and well-rounded students.

The IB offers four programs catered to students ages 3 to 19. The IB Diploma Programme (DP), a two-year “pre-university” course that students start in their second-to-last year of high school, is the most popular. You can take the DP as an alternative to your high school qualification, which might be GCSE, A Levels, AP, HSC, VCE, or NCEA, depending on your location.

The Diploma Programme is composed of six academic subject groups and the Diploma Program (DP) Core. The DP Core requires students to reflect on the nature of knowledge in a course called Theory of Knowledge (ToK), participate in an independent research project to produce an Extended Essay (EE), and engage in extracurricular activities related to Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).

Selecting the right subjects is crucial for a successful IB experience. The subjects chosen not only shape your academic journey but also have a profound impact on the overall learning, engagement, and achievements. Furthermore, selecting a well-rounded combination of subjects ensures a balanced and comprehensive education, providing you with a broad range of knowledge and skills. The right subject choices also play a vital role in meeting university and career requirements, enabling students to pursue higher education and professional pathways seamlessly. By carefully selecting subjects, you can tailor your IB experience to suit your unique abilities, aspirations, and personal growth, ultimately maximizing your potential and achieving success.

IB Exams and Assessments

The IB Programme is unique in that final scores are a combination of internal and external assessments.

Internal assessments

IB Internal Assessments takes the form of long-term projects such as papers, reports and presentations. For example, in Group 5 (Sciences), you complete lab reports, and in Group 1 (Studies in Language and Literature), you write papers.

These internal assessments usually comprise 15-25% of your final IB score for that subject and are graded by your teachers. Your school later sends a small, randomly selected sample of student work to the IB for “moderation”, a process that ensures your school is grading fairly.

External assessments

The rest of the IB is externally assessed, mainly in the form of final examinations. IB exams are cumulative, with assessments in all topics taken in one exam at the end of your second year of study.

IB Study Tips

1. Get started early

As cliché as it may sound, we really can’t emphasize this point enough. The IB is full of extended projects – EE, IAs, CAS projects – that require more than just a night or week’s worth of work, no matter how good you are at cramming. Get started on these as soon as you can, because a seemingly terrible first draft or plan is infinitely better than not having one at all.

2. Utilise all resources available to you

Don’t just rely on the material provided to you in class. With over 1.5 million graduates globally, online learning resources are plentiful and, usually, free. Use these resources to provide yourself with a fresh take on content. Personal recommendations include Revision Village for Maths and LitLearn for English.

3. Engage with your teachers

Make time for one-on-one meetings with your teachers to discuss areas of difficulty or scope for academic extension. Not only will this demonstrate your passion for the subject and drive to take your learning into your own hands – which may be handy when it’s time to have references written – but it also ensures that you address any concerns as soon as they arise.

4. Read broadly

With the IB being a globally-focused curriculum, having up-to-date knowledge of world affairs is critical to your success in nearly all subjects: languages, humanities, sciences – the whole lot. Setting aside some time each day to read the news isn’t a bad place to start, even if it’s just 10 minutes in the car on the way to school.

5. Keep things in perspective

The IB is incredibly transparent about how individual pieces of assessment contribute to your final mark, and you should bear this in mind when spending time on these tasks. For example, studying for an oral worth 10% should not come at the expense of falling behind on content for an exam worth 80% of your final mark.

6. Revise content regularly

Don’t wait for mocks or mid-semesters to start revising – spend 10 minutes each day, per subject, summarising what you learned in class that day. It only has to be a sentence or two, and will take less than an hour all up, but will save you heaps of time (and stress) later on.

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7. Know your mark schemes

In order to ace your exams, you need to know what the examiners want. It’s as simple as familiarising yourself with mark schemes and rubrics – do they want to see synthesis or analysis? – and looking out for key terms or lines of working required to receive the marks.

8. Switch things up!

Studying gets boring. There, we said it. As passionate as you might be about a subject, things get repetitive, and boredom is a surefire way for you to lose your focus, particularly if you’re no longer learning new content. Devise new and innovative ways for you to study (such as using the Feynman Technique), and alternate between these to keep yourself engaged. Center these around different methods of expression – speaking, writing, drawing, listening, recalling – for best effect.

9. Handwrite your work

We’re not going to advocate for writing all your notes by hand, or to swear off the keyboard until after graduation, but try to remember that many of your exams will require you to produce content by hand, and quickly. Ensure you’re able to do so by saving the computer for your notes and choosing to complete timed work by hand.

10. Collaborate

If there’s one piece of advice you remember from this post, let it be this one: collaborate with your peers to maximise your learning and avoid the burnout by combining study and (productive) social time. Create a group study strategy that works for you, and hold each other accountable for your learning.

Final Thoughts

While challenging, the IB diploma programme offers a holistic and high-quality curriculum that prepares you for university studies and life beyond high school. Tools like Crimson’s Revision Village offer a comprehensive collection of study materials designed explicitly for IB exams. This includes:

By utilizing resources like Revision Village and adopting effective study strategies, students can enhance their preparation, gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and excel in the exams. With dedication, perseverance, and the right approach, students can overcome this demanding course's challenges and succeed in their academic journey.

To further boost your chances of success in IB exams, consider Crimson Education's online tutoring services. Crimson's expert tutors can provide personalized guidance, tailored strategies, and invaluable support throughout your IB journey. Don't miss the opportunity to maximize your potential—book a free consultation with Crimson Education today and get started on your path to academic success.

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Is IB Right for You?

Crimson Education has academic advisors who walk alongside you, helping you choose a curriculum that fits your individual career and life goals. Speak to an advisor to understand your options and explore tutoring to help you excel!