How to rock your IB exams

Revision outdoors

International Baccalaureate exams are just around the corner

If you’re feeling stressed or nervous, don’t worry – TSR is here to help.

Here is some top advice from students who have already completed the IB exans. They've shared their most important pieces of wisdom to help you get prepared and ace your exams.

Stay calm

Exams are a stressful time for everyone, but the pressure is on for IB students. “We sit all our exams at the end of the two years in a very short space of time,” explains ILovePancakes.

This means it’s extra important that you look after yourself. “Let yourself sleep,” says mnina19. “IB students have SO many exams packed into a short space of time, and all of us found we had at least one exam that we were just completely burned out for. So it's really important to let yourself get a good night's sleep.”

Don’t stress yourself out by cramming immediately before exams, warns skye25: “I'd recommend not to study right before the exam starts. Half an hour (or one whole hour even) before the exam begins, just close all books, prepare all exam equipment, turn off your phone, check your calculator, chat to friends (unless they begin to ask you to help them solve a question, in that case RUN AWAY).” 

"Don't freak out!" says constanzev. "Stay calm and do your best. Even if you have a bad day or you can't remember something, it's not the end of the world.”

Study smart

Use past papers

Past papers get you familiar with the exam structure and the types of questions that come up. “Solve at least three years' worth of past papers, especially science and maths, where all the answers are on the mark scheme,” says dhk628.

He isn’t alone. “I did basically all past papers I could get my hands on!” says j132. “Past papers are really helpful because you'll probably notice a familiar pattern of questions that usually come up.” 

You could try giving yourself mock exams at home so you won't find any surprises on the day. "Try to predict possible questions and answer them yourself. As exams approach, the most efficient method to raise your score is to practise," says dhk628. 

Understand the topic

“The IB doesn't test you on content as much as it does on your understanding. You don't need to know absolutely everything, but you need to know how to answer the exam questions,” says ILove Pancakes.

So, how can you make sure you’ve really got your head around the content? “For subjects that require essays, such as English, try to have a map in your head. What I mean by a map is visualizing how the various topics you know connect with one another,” recommends dhk628. By making a map in your mind you'll have all the information you need for a great answer and your fingertips. 

Make sure you’re prioritising your subjects when you revise. “For each subject, go through a list of all of the topics and pinpoint the ones you are weakest at. Start these topics first!” says mieztro's girlfriend, a top-grade IB student who has written advice for her school magazine.

"Don't fall into the trap of not revising a subject because 'it's easy'," warns Alunzar. "Set yourself an aim based on what you think you know or don't know and work towards that aim."

Pace yourself

“Don't do everything at once,” advises Radziok. “Mix subjects together, because if you're planning on spending the whole day on one topic you're going to have problems with staying focused after the first two hours.” 

Always take regular breaks during long revision sessions, drink plenty of water and make sure you're well rested. There's no point in burning out in the run up to exams. 

Get peer support

Feeling worried? Nervous? Excited? Everyone needs to let it all out sometimes.

TSR has a great community of other IB students who you can talk to. “You can get in touch with other people graduating IB this year so you can discuss revision and help each other with subjects,” says Kangie. This is a great way to get peer support during the exam season and talk about things only other IB students will understand. 

Mieztro's girlfriend explains that the power of group study shouldn't be underestimated. "For my English HL exam, we had a lot of ground to cover and it really helped to get into a study group as tackle it together," she explains. 

The IB forum has lots of subject-specific threads where you can share knowledge and pick each other's brains.

Check out TSR's guide to results day

Feeling confused about what happens on results day? No more – our step-by-step guide lays it all out for you so you know exactly what to expect on the day.

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