Many students swear that IB is a difficult program because it requires a lot of work compared to the standard secondary diploma. An IB student has to take six subjects, complete a 4,000-word essay, and take the Theory of Knowledge course.
Your first year in IB won’t be difficult, but your schedule is going to get tighter as you get to the second year. And if you don’t have effective study habits, the program can overwhelm you really quickly and make you feel like dropping out altogether.
So in this guide, you’ll learn how to do well in IB and score good grades in the end. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in your first year or you’re just starting the second, the tips shared below will help you do well in the program.
Your First and Second Year in IB
The early months of your first year in IB won’t be as difficult, but you can expect to start feeling the intensity of the program towards the end of the year. The first year is often the prepping stage where you get familiar with Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essays,and the subjects of your choice.
The second year is the phase where you do a lot of work and the program can get quite intense if you don’t prepare yourself well. This is the time to write the 4,000-word Extended Essay, do a Theory of Knowledge Exhibition, and a Theory of Knowledge essay. As if that’s not enough you also have to do a CAS and write your final IB exam.
How to Do Well in IB
Clearly, doing well in this program requires proper planning, discipline, and commitment. That’s why we recommend that you do the following to pass the IB program.
1. Start Accumulating Your CAS Points Early
The IB program requires that you take part in CAS if you want to earn an IB diploma. That’s why it’s important to make sure you accumulate enough points early if you haven’t done that yet.
Ask your CAS coordination to suggest some activities that you can do to complete your hours. Then, spend at least an hour every day on those activities so you can get enough points.
The IB guideline isn’t specific on the type of CAS activity to do, so taking part in any Creativity Activity Service that can benefit you and your community should be fine. For example, you can:
- Create a public service video on anything significant that the world should know. It doesn’t have to be something can go viral, but it does have to be a video that can help people learn something important. Focus on a global issue such as global warming, Covid-19 pandemic, sustainability, and waste management.
- Play a sport you like. You don’t have to do this for 3 or 4 hours day, especially given that you have other areas in the program to focus on. However, you do need to organize your schedule such that you take part in the sport for at least 30 minutes a day to meet your CAS hours.
- Volunteer to do community work on the weekends. Find a local organization near you and ask them if they would be okay wit you helping with different activities once or twice a month.
2. Set Realistic Goals
It’s hard to do well in IB if you don’t set realistic goals, so look at the course material, understand what the program requires, and then set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
Setting SMART goals allows you to prioritize your classes and assignments, making it easy for you to know what to work on and when.
Create a schedule where you dedicate time to study each of the six subjects every day. Give more priority to the subjects you find more difficult, but don’t forget to take the ones you find easy seriously as well.
Track the progress you have made in each subject over the course of each week. If you notice that you didn’t revise a certain subject despite dedicating the time for it in your schedule, consider making up for the lost time on the weekend or in your free time during the week.
Spend just as much time as possible to work on your IA on time. DON’T wait until the very last minute to start working on the assignment, as such goals won’t be as easy to attain. Even if you’re confident that you can do your IA in a week, the quality of the work won’t be as great. Start early, plan to do assignments in bits, and eventually your goals will be easy to attain without stressing yourself out too much.
3. Always Ask for Help
Some students find the IB program difficult simply because they aren’t proactive in the course. They don’t ask for help often and therefore end up leaving many problems unsolved. The truth is you can’t understand everything in IB unless you’re asking questions and dealing with your problems immediately.
Being proactive and asking for IB help is the first and progressive step to building a strong foundation in IB. And if you feel like consulting your teacher isn’t enough, hold group discussion, check out online discussion boards such as IB Survival, and watch YouTube videos.
Being proactive might seem like a lot of work, and it is, but what other way is there to understand the materials taught in the course?
4. Start Early
Some students fail IB because they want to. Just imagine making notes for two years’ worth of the IB content in a month or two. You simply won’t get the best results. The only excuse for failing IB is consistent procrastination, and that has never turned out well for lazy students.
Think of it this way:
You have six subjects to study, an Extended Essay to complete, an Internal Assessment waiting, CAS, and the TOK subject. If you aren’t starting early, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
As an IB student once said, the IB course materials need to seep into the deeper crevices of your brain. For that to happen, you have to immerse yourself in learning the subject content for the period of two years – not four weeks.