How to Make Most from the Final Months of IB

In this blogpost, you can find

⎫ Overview of creative revision methods
⎫ Tips on memorizing examples and orientating in your syllabus
⎫ A checklist for being on track for your 2020 IB exams

Instead of a spring break, you have had plenty of IA fixes that should have long been done, Extended Essay and TOK Essay proofreading, written assignments waiting to be finished in your language modules and perhaps some university applications on top of it? Here are a few tips that have helped me to score 44:

Set aside each day just an hour for your most challenging subject. For me it was History. As spring progressed, I gradually added more to this, but for now, it’s good to spend the one hour not doing homework, not editing your IA, but simply revising. If you can do more, that’s great! If you feel overwhelmed already because your time is spent on other IB related things (CAS etc.), remember that the one additional hour will really pay off.


In the months before my IB exams, I founded it harder and harder to find a blank space on the wall. If you learn by writing, there is no best way than spreading large A3 sheets on the floor and summarizing and mindmapping the ideas you will want to utilize in your essays and then sticking them within your eye-level. My friend even had her list of Global Politics Definitions stuck on the toilet wall (and I can say I learnt some of them unconsciously even though I did not take Global Politics)!
Even if you do not spend time learning them by heart, merely making the information go through your hand makes it easily memorable later, and when you actually start learning the information after looking at it unconsciously for weeks or even months, you will have the feeling of familiarity.

An additional level for audio-oriented people is to record the notes you may have already summarized on giant mind maps, and then listen to them while travelling, jogging, cooking, or focusedly reading them and listening to them at the same time.
You can complement your recordings with finding relevant podcasts. Even if they exceed what you are supposed to know for the IB, they can help you set your knowledge into context, deepen it and reignite your interest in the topics that you might be getting slightly tired of. For historians, I recommend for example History of the Cold War Podcast.

Another method I can heartily recommend are flashcards – both paper-form and electronic, such as Quizlet, and the IB App.

Organize all materials you have from DP1 and DP2 so that you know where to find each topic. For subjects such as Economics or ESS, it is handy to develop an example bank that may not be required by your teacher but will score you higher points in essays if you can cite concrete examples. For Economics, this means pinning down the precise time, place and policy effect. Even if you know many examples by heart already – they may be from your local environment, for instance – you can write them down next to one or more areas in which you may want to use them, and in this way see where you are still lacking examples. Don’t be afraid to use one example for multiple subjects! I used examples of environmental policies in History, ESS and Economics.

If you do not have it, it is crucial that you get hold of your syllabus, ideally print it out and make sure that everything is covered properly. You can highlight the areas that you have already revised and use the topic list to create a revision plan. Firstly, only create a flexible and more general one – outlining one larger topic per week (in each subject), but later before the IB, a very concrete revision plan is helpful (more tips on this will be coming in some of my next posts).

5. A few last tips

– Speak to your teachers
In the final months before your exams, you will have covered all of your curriculum and teachers will be more than willing to let you revise using your preferred method and answer any questions. Make sure you get maximum from the feedback on your Mock exams which most schools have in January, and you can ask them for more feedback on anything you produce on top of the required work. Teachers will also have access to useful resources and past papers, markschemes, so you can ask them to go through these with you during lessons.

– Don’t switch to exam mode YET!
If you stretch your strengths from January, you will not last until May. Keep doing all the things that make you happy and focus on finishing your other responsibilities (such as university applications) early and well so that you don’t have to think about them later.

– Be effective
If you find it hard to concentrate, try out some libraries, install focus-oriented apps, set alarms for study -time etc. Maintain a regular routine, and if you find it helpful, study with friends. If you already know your textbooks well, you can try searching for different ones, as simply by reading the information formulated differently will solidify your knowledge of the topic. Also, get into the habit of doing past papers regularly and learn from their markschemes!

Keep up the good work and you will do great!

CHECKLIST FOR 2020 IBDP candidates
⎫ I know the syllabus of each of my subject well and I know when I am going to revise each part of it
⎫ I know which resources (textbooks, past papers) to use
⎫ I know where examples are required and am in the process of developing an example bank for them
⎫ I know which revision tactics suit me well and have plans on covering ALL of the material on my syllabus with them
⎫ I have set aside an amount of time for PURE revision (not editing IAs or writing past papers) each day
⎫ I am on track with my other IB tasks (ToK, CAS, EE…)

Contact Elizabeth J for more information.

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