IBkidinthecorner
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Hi so I'm currently working on a CAS project around giving tips and advice about IB to younger students. I was wondering if anyone has any advice they'd be willing to share. It can be general or subject specific. Thanks so much!
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simxne_
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Is this aimed at people who are about to start the IB, or for people who are considering it? I have some tips I can share, but they are kinda specific to when I was doing the IB (especially since they are subject specific). I can share anyway - I hope it's relevant! (I wrote the following message separately).

************************************************************************************************************************

Hi, just to let you know, I only did one year (2019-20). If this helps, here are some tips that came to mind. They are all subject specific and some might be obvious/common anyway, but hope this is useful in some way!


Maths – May be obvious, but practise is the best way to revise for Maths! Especially since there isn't always a lot of time with the IB!

Chemistry – Probably expected but be sure to go through notes after lessons as much as possible. For me, there was extra research I had to do, as there is a lot of content (I did do HL though) and not so much time! (Plus, one of my teachers went through the content very quickly!)

Music – For any set texts you go through, if you can, group the annotations you make (structure and tonality, melody, harmony, rhythm and tempo, texture) and perhaps create a colour code (highlight the actual score). Apparently, it helps a lot for remembering features in the exam, when you are under timed conditions with an unannotated copy of the score in front of you...

CAS – Try to note reflections as you go, it is much easier as you won’t forget the dates, miss anything out and you will remember what you did more clearly! It’s worth it!
Last edited by simxne_; 7 months ago
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IBkidinthecorner
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(Original post by simxne_)
Is this aimed at people who are about to start the IB, or for people who are considering it? I have some tips I can share, but they are kinda specific to when I was doing the IB (especially since they are subject specific). I can share anyway - I hope it's relevant! (I wrote the following message separately).

************************************************************************************************************************

Hi, just to let you know, I only did one year (2019-20). If this helps, here are some tips that came to mind. They are all subject specific and some might be obvious/common anyway, but hope this is useful in some way!


Maths – May be obvious, but practise is the best way to revise for Maths! Especially since there isn't always a lot of time with the IB!

Chemistry – Probably expected but be sure to go through notes after lessons as much as possible. For me, there was extra research I had to do, as there is a lot of content (I did do HL though) and not so much time! (Plus, one of my teachers went through the content very quickly!)

Music – For any set texts you go through, if you can, group the annotations you make (structure and tonality, melody, harmony, rhythm and tempo, texture) and perhaps create a colour code (highlight the actual score). Apparently, it helps a lot for remembering features in the exam, when you are under timed conditions with an unannotated copy of the score in front of you...

CAS – Try to note reflections as you go, it is much easier as you won’t forget the dates, miss anything out and you will remember what you did more clearly! It’s worth it!
Hi! Thank you so much for this; there are some really interesting tips here. My school is pure IB so it’s for people starting the program rather than deciding whether or not to do it. Subject-specific advice is brilliant, especially in a subject like music that I don’t take. 😊
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simxne_
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(Original post by IBkidinthecorner)
Hi! Thank you so much for this; there are some really interesting tips here. My school is pure IB so it’s for people starting the program rather than deciding whether or not to do it. Subject-specific advice is brilliant, especially in a subject like music that I don’t take. 😊
I'm glad I was able to help. Hope the project goes well and good luck with the rest of your IB!
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karenawang
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Hey! I'm currently at Year 2 and predicted 44/45 points! Here are some tips based on personal experience; I hope you find them helpful
This response got a lot longer than I expected so I apologize hahaha

English A Literature HL
- Although there are different papers with different requirements, many skills can be applicable to all of them! Understanding how to analyze texts as well as how to effectively organize and structure essays is SO important (I didn't realize this until this year)
- When studying texts, make notes about intertextuality and any possible links/connections you find between texts as you proceed through the two years! Those notes will be so important when you make decisions for texts to use in Paper 2 as well as the Oral
- Practice your Paper 1 skills constantly when studying texts--it'll also help prepare for the Oral (as you'll need to use analysis) as well as the HL Essay (if you take HL!)
- Try and extract global issues from all your texts as you study them (and add them to your notes about intertextuality/links; your Oral will be much easier!)
- Annotate your texts (use colors, highlighters...) and KEEP THEM SAFE! You'll need to refer back to them constantly before exams!
- Throughout the year, if you notice any interesting or meaningful extracts and quotes, note them down somewhere or fold the page! Those things will be key when you need to prepare for the Oral or Paper 2
- Try and plan out which texts you'd like to use for Paper 2, the Oral, and the HL Essay (if you're doing HL) in advance so you can start planning as early as possible.

Chinese A Language&Literature SL
- Although I doubt many of you take Chinese, these tips can be applicable to all Language&Literature students
- Keep note of characteristics of different text types you study as you'll need that knowledge for Paper 1 and the Oral!
- Most tips from the English Literature section above are also applicable here; the difference is simply that Lang&Lit also focuses on things like images and text types for language texts.
- Keep an eye out for any news articles or other texts you see on the internet or otherwise if they illustrate a particular global issue--you might be able to use it for your IO!


Mathematics Applications&Interpretations HL
- The two MOST IMPORTANT things in maths, for me, are 1) listening in class and 2) taking notes. (They sound basic but are SO IMPORTANT)
- First, listening in class has been so important. I'm lucky I have an amazingly patient teacher with a genuine passion for maths. He always explains theory and gives examples in detail, trying to make concepts easier to understand. I don't know about you, but I'm constantly tempted to use my phone or computer and just stop listening to class. However, I discovered that, when I paid full attention to class, concepts were actually really logical and easy to understand. When I got distracted and tuned in again minutes later, I realized I'd already missed many crucial steps and couldn't really follow along.
- Second, note-taking in maths is so important (though not that many people do it). I ALWAYS note down every sample question my teacher explains to us, writing down every step even if it appears blatantly obvious. This gives me a large repertoire of sample questions I can use to practice before exams--and also the detailed procedures allow me to understand how to solve the question again if I ever forget. It takes a lot of focus and effort to note down everything but, to me, it's worth it.
- If you don't understand something, ask the teacher or it'll be too late as the concepts in IB Maths often build on previous points.
- Also, for the IA, make sure you investigate a topic you're interested in and use a mathematical concept that you fully understand!!

Biology HL
- Obviously, note-taking is crucial for biology! I find having colourful and clean notes for biology really important and helpful for me in remembering concepts.
- Make acronyms for everything (I find personal and stupid ones extremely helpful)!! Come up with stupid but simple ways to remember concepts, it works much better than pure memorization.
- I also find diagrams and annotations really important. In studying, I often redraw diagrams (e.g. structure of a membrane, the digestive system, cells...) and sequences of events (e.g. membrane transport, absorption, transport in plants... anything, really) to help me remember how things work. It's quite a lot of content to memorize in words so I recommend using lots of pictures and drawings.
- There are also many helpful videos on YouTube for revision! Cheryl Hickman has amazing summaries for IB, but also short animations and summaries can help you better understand concepts that your teacher may not have explained well in class. It's best to use a variety of ways to review rather than sticking to the old-fashioned re-reading of your textbook and notes.

History SL
- To me, history is the easiest subject of all the IB subjects I've chosen. (Everyone I know disagrees with me, though).
- The important thing for Paper 1 is to familiarize yourself with the types of questions and how to answer them.
- Question 1 is essentially basic reading comprehension/understanding of visual sources, things you have probably learned in your Language courses. (It's helpful to learn the faces of important characters though, as they may appear in political cartoons).
- For Question 2, just reference the OPCVL criterion, and nothing but the OPCVL criterion. Most answers can be applicable to all questions (e.g. primary sources will always have the same values and limitations), so just have a general idea about the values/limitations of different types of sources and you'll be fine. I recommend writing one paragraph each for Origin, Purpose, and Content, discussing the Values and Limitations of each.
- For Question 3, compare and contrast, it's just... Compare and contrast. Avoid superficial points like "Source A mentions ___ while source B doesn't"; make sure your comparison is meaningful. Explain the similarity/difference then add a short quote in the end.
- For Question 4, make sure you have enough general understanding of the event mentioned in the paper (though you COULD potentially just infer things from sources and state them as if they're your own knowledge). Integrate your own knowledge and the sources--clearly show how one backs up the other in your argument.
- Don't rephrase the question!! Use the exact terminology from the question, like "Message" and all of OPCVL!
- To prepare for Paper 2, refer to the IB History Guide and look at the key focuses for the topic you are studying. (E.g. Early Modern States looks at leaders, rebellions, religion, etc.) Note down how those key ideas are shown in the history you've studied and make connections between events, planning out sample essays and remembering evidence. Then you'll have a general idea of what to respond for any question that might come up!
- Also, historiography is important BUT there's no need to memorize quotes or too many historians' names! As long as you point out that alternative perspectives exist, or that conflicting views have been observed by different historians, you'll be fine.
- For the IA... It's best to investigate a topic that is related to what you're studying in class. It's helped me immensely! (Also, get started as early as possible because the reading can take quite a while)

Music SL
- I'm not going to offer many tips for this because I understand the IB Music course has changed dramatically for 2020 students (and I'm quite unfamiliar with the new syllabus). I guess understanding theory is important as a basis for studying music, though!

TOK
- TOK is actually really easy. Like, really easy. There are no RIGHT answers. All you need to do is acknowledge that perspectives exist and be willing to question all assumptions that exist, whether they are yours or others. You are never 'right' in TOK, and neither is anyone else. Acknowledge that, and you've understood the essence of TOK.
- Don't get fixated on ideas such as WOKs or AOKs. They're guides for you to explore knowledge, but don't be overly structural or rigid in your presentations or essays. Demonstrate your critical thinking.

Extended Essay
- First and foremost, CHOOSE A TOPIC THAT INTERESTS YOU. I chose Literature because I thought it'd be "cool" to analyze literature and an Austen book I liked (it's stupid I know). By the time I realized I was actually really annoyed and tired of it, it was too late to change.
- Second, don't procrastinate it. If they tell you to start working on the EE during the summer of 2021, DO IT. Trust me, you'll regret it (I pulled many all-nighters to write my EE and submitted it at 5AM. As a result, the quality wasn't ideal). Do your reading in advance and get it out of the way as soon as you can.
- Plan it out. Make sure your essay is clear, flows naturally, and has a central thesis. My first draft was borderline impossible to understand and I had to rewrite it entirely. Take your time and spread out the work. It's not actually that difficult if you plan and prepare for it well.

CAS
- CAS is actually simple as well. Anything can count towards it if you have evidence and write reflections.
- Make sure you've got a balance between creativity, activity, and service though. If you've got 10 creative projects, there's no point in putting all 10 as you'd need 10 activity and 10 service ones as well. Just reach the minimum and it'll be enough.

GENERAL
- I'm sorry I wrote so much, I get really wordy sometimes but I hope these tips are helpful for any future IB students hahaha
- Semester 1 of Year 2 is the most difficult (where I am right now) because you'll have all your IAs and university applications at the same time, so don't procrastinate because you'll regret it. (Easier said than done)
- Achieving good marks in IB requires your hard work and effort for all of the 2 years. If you slack off and don't listen during Year 1, it's not really going to be possible for you to "catch up" in Year 2. If you want to do well, make sure you put in effort the entire time. You only do the IB once, anyway; make it count.
- Yes, it's a difficult and exhausting program. I ask myself "why am I doing this to myself?" more often than I'd like to admit... But honestly the challenge is what makes it fun (and allows you to bond with classmates during 3AM panicked discussions about IA deadlines).
- This sounds like your typical ad but... If you've really studied hard in the IB, all your experiences will be useful in the future. The content itself obviously makes you more ~knowledgeable~. The research, thinking, and essay-writing will be useful in university. Most importantly, the skills in writing CAS reflections and TOK essays will be very useful in writing CVs, personal statements, and application essays, as you'll know how to make yourself sound reflective and willing to learn (whether or not it's actually true).
- IB isn't easy, but it's not as hard as most people think. As long as you're willing to put in the effort, everything'll be fine
Last edited by karenawang; 6 months ago
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IBkidinthecorner
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#6
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(Original post by karenawang)
Hey! I'm currently at Year 2 and predicted 44/45 points! Here are some tips based on personal experience; I hope you find them helpful
This response got a lot longer than I expected so I apologize hahaha

English A Literature HL
- Although there are different papers with different requirements, many skills can be applicable to all of them! Understanding how to analyze texts as well as how to effectively organize and structure essays is SO important (I didn't realize this until this year)
- When studying texts, make notes about intertextuality and any possible links/connections you find between texts as you proceed through the two years! Those notes will be so important when you make decisions for texts to use in Paper 2 as well as the Oral
- Practice your Paper 1 skills constantly when studying texts--it'll also help prepare for the Oral (as you'll need to use analysis) as well as the HL Essay (if you take HL!)
- Try and extract global issues from all your texts as you study them (and add them to your notes about intertextuality/links; your Oral will be much easier!)
- Annotate your texts (use colors, highlighters...) and KEEP THEM SAFE! You'll need to refer back to them constantly before exams!
- Throughout the year, if you notice any interesting or meaningful extracts and quotes, note them down somewhere or fold the page! Those things will be key when you need to prepare for the Oral or Paper 2
- Try and plan out which texts you'd like to use for Paper 2, the Oral, and the HL Essay (if you're doing HL) in advance so you can start planning as early as possible.

Chinese A Language&Literature SL
- Although I doubt many of you take Chinese, these tips can be applicable to all Language&Literature students
- Keep note of characteristics of different text types you study as you'll need that knowledge for Paper 1 and the Oral!
- Most tips from the English Literature section above are also applicable here; the difference is simply that Lang&Lit also focuses on things like images and text types for language texts.
- Keep an eye out for any news articles or other texts you see on the internet or otherwise if they illustrate a particular global issue--you might be able to use it for your IO!


Mathematics Applications&Interpretations HL
- The two MOST IMPORTANT things in maths, for me, are 1) listening in class and 2) taking notes. (They sound basic but are SO IMPORTANT)
- First, listening in class has been so important. I'm lucky I have an amazingly patient teacher with a genuine passion for maths. He always explains theory and gives examples in detail, trying to make concepts easier to understand. I don't know about you, but I'm constantly tempted to use my phone or computer and just stop listening to class. However, I discovered that, when I paid full attention to class, concepts were actually really logical and easy to understand. When I got distracted and tuned in again minutes later, I realized I'd already missed many crucial steps and couldn't really follow along.
- Second, note-taking in maths is so important (though not that many people do it). I ALWAYS note down every sample question my teacher explains to us, writing down every step even if it appears blatantly obvious. This gives me a large repertoire of sample questions I can use to practice before exams--and also the detailed procedures allow me to understand how to solve the question again if I ever forget. It takes a lot of focus and effort to note down everything but, to me, it's worth it.
- If you don't understand something, ask the teacher or it'll be too late as the concepts in IB Maths often build on previous points.
- Also, for the IA, make sure you investigate a topic you're interested in and use a mathematical concept that you fully understand!!

Biology HL
- Obviously, note-taking is crucial for biology! I find having colourful and clean notes for biology really important and helpful for me in remembering concepts.
- Make acronyms for everything (I find personal and stupid ones extremely helpful)!! Come up with stupid but simple ways to remember concepts, it works much better than pure memorization.
- I also find diagrams and annotations really important. In studying, I often redraw diagrams (e.g. structure of a membrane, the digestive system, cells...) and sequences of events (e.g. membrane transport, absorption, transport in plants... anything, really) to help me remember how things work. It's quite a lot of content to memorize in words so I recommend using lots of pictures and drawings.
- There are also many helpful videos on YouTube for revision! Cheryl Hickman has amazing summaries for IB, but also short animations and summaries can help you better understand concepts that your teacher may not have explained well in class. It's best to use a variety of ways to review rather than sticking to the old-fashioned re-reading of your textbook and notes.

History SL
- To me, history is the easiest subject of all the IB subjects I've chosen. (Everyone I know disagrees with me, though).
- The important thing for Paper 1 is to familiarize yourself with the types of questions and how to answer them.
- Question 1 is essentially basic reading comprehension/understanding of visual sources, things you have probably learned in your Language courses. (It's helpful to learn the faces of important characters though, as they may appear in political cartoons).
- For Question 2, just reference the OPCVL criterion, and nothing but the OPCVL criterion. Most answers can be applicable to all questions (e.g. primary sources will always have the same values and limitations), so just have a general idea about the values/limitations of different types of sources and you'll be fine. I recommend writing one paragraph each for Origin, Purpose, and Content, discussing the Values and Limitations of each.
- For Question 3, compare and contrast, it's just... Compare and contrast. Avoid superficial points like "Source A mentions ___ while source B doesn't"; make sure your comparison is meaningful. Explain the similarity/difference then add a short quote in the end.
- For Question 4, make sure you have enough general understanding of the event mentioned in the paper (though you COULD potentially just infer things from sources and state them as if they're your own knowledge). Integrate your own knowledge and the sources--clearly show how one backs up the other in your argument.
- Don't rephrase the question!! Use the exact terminology from the question, like "Message" and all of OPCVL!
- To prepare for Paper 2, refer to the IB History Guide and look at the key focuses for the topic you are studying. (E.g. Early Modern States looks at leaders, rebellions, religion, etc.) Note down how those key ideas are shown in the history you've studied and make connections between events, planning out sample essays and remembering evidence. Then you'll have a general idea of what to respond for any question that might come up!
- Also, historiography is important BUT there's no need to memorize quotes or too many historians' names! As long as you point out that alternative perspectives exist, or that conflicting views have been observed by different historians, you'll be fine.
- For the IA... It's best to investigate a topic that is related to what you're studying in class. It's helped me immensely! (Also, get started as early as possible because the reading can take quite a while)

Music SL
- I'm not going to offer many tips for this because I understand the IB Music course has changed dramatically for 2020 students (and I'm quite unfamiliar with the new syllabus). I guess understanding theory is important as a basis for studying music, though!

TOK
- TOK is actually really easy. Like, really easy. There are no RIGHT answers. All you need to do is acknowledge that perspectives exist and be willing to question all assumptions that exist, whether they are yours or others. You are never 'right' in TOK, and neither is anyone else. Acknowledge that, and you've understood the essence of TOK.
- Don't get fixated on ideas such as WOKs or AOKs. They're guides for you to explore knowledge, but don't be overly structural or rigid in your presentations or essays. Demonstrate your critical thinking.

Extended Essay
- First and foremost, CHOOSE A TOPIC THAT INTERESTS YOU. I chose Literature because I thought it'd be "cool" to analyze literature and an Austen book I liked (it's stupid I know). By the time I realized I was actually really annoyed and tired of it, it was too late to change.
- Second, don't procrastinate it. If they tell you to start working on the EE during the summer of 2021, DO IT. Trust me, you'll regret it (I pulled many all-nighters to write my EE and submitted it at 5AM. As a result, the quality wasn't ideal). Do your reading in advance and get it out of the way as soon as you can.
- Plan it out. Make sure your essay is clear, flows naturally, and has a central thesis. My first draft was borderline impossible to understand and I had to rewrite it entirely. Take your time and spread out the work. It's not actually that difficult if you plan and prepare for it well.

CAS
- CAS is actually simple as well. Anything can count towards it if you have evidence and write reflections.
- Make sure you've got a balance between creativity, activity, and service though. If you've got 10 creative projects, there's no point in putting all 10 as you'd need 10 activity and 10 service ones as well. Just reach the minimum and it'll be enough.

GENERAL
- I'm sorry I wrote so much, I get really wordy sometimes but I hope these tips are helpful for any future IB students hahaha
- Semester 1 of Year 2 is the most difficult (where I am right now) because you'll have all your IAs and university applications at the same time, so don't procrastinate because you'll regret it. (Easier said than done)
- Achieving good marks in IB requires your hard work and effort for all of the 2 years. If you slack off and don't listen during Year 1, it's not really going to be possible for you to "catch up" in Year 2. If you want to do well, make sure you put in effort the entire time. You only do the IB once, anyway; make it count.
- Yes, it's a difficult and exhausting program. I ask myself "why am I doing this to myself?" more often than I'd like to admit... But honestly the challenge is what makes it fun (and allows you to bond with classmates during 3AM panicked discussions about IA deadlines).
- This sounds like your typical ad but... If you've really studied hard in the IB, all your experiences will be useful in the future. The content itself obviously makes you more ~knowledgeable~. The research, thinking, and essay-writing will be useful in university. Most importantly, the skills in writing CAS reflections and TOK essays will be very useful in writing CVs, personal statements, and application essays, as you'll know how to make yourself sound reflective and willing to learn (whether or not it's actually true).
- IB isn't easy, but it's not as hard as most people think. As long as you're willing to put in the effort, everything'll be fine
Wow, this is brilliant, thank you so much! Congrats on such a high predicted!
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