Peruse multiple IB forums online and you can come up with one definite conclusion: the IB is an extremely demanding and challenging course. However, if you’re new to the game- or you’re thinking of joining in but you’re having doubts- fear not, because myself and countless others have been where you are right now and we’re all still alive, albeit some of us more so than others.
It should be noted though, that at the end of the day, even with every single IB tip you manage to find, the only true way to “master” the IB, is to put in the work yourself. No tips can help you finish your Extended Essay and Internal Assessments, only you can. I myself am in the second year of the course and a lot of times, I don’t know what I’m doing.
But I’ve made it long enough without having to sacrifice my eight hours of sleep yet, so I must be doing something right. Hopefully, my tips will help ensure that you sail smoothly through two years of the IB and keep your sanity intact.
Make sure IB is right for you
The first tip is a short one but still important nonetheless. You should ensure that the IB is the right fit for you. It’s no use forcing yourself to do it if you have no interest in it whatsoever. The IB is an amazing course which will help you grow as a young adult and prepare you for life by arming you with a variety of skills. But if it isn’t for you, it just isn’t.
Don’t waste your time and energy forcing yourself into a mold that you don’t fit into. I know countless students who transferred from the IB to either the A-Levels or the Foundation Program and are happier because of it. There’s no shame in knowing that you learn differently from others and need a different approach to education. If you can wrap that idea around your head, you’re already ahead of the curve.
Pick your subjects well
Once you’ve established that the IB really is for you, congratulations, it’s time to pick your six subjects. This is a critical process which many take for granted. Some are forced by parents to pick specific subjects, some feel the need to forsake what they really want to do to please their parents, while others generally do not care. This shouldn’t be the case because it is your life and you’re the one who has to live with the consequences of these choices, and it’s a long life to live in regret and resentment. Now, I’m not saying that you should rebel against your parents, no.
What I’m saying is that you should have a candid conversation with your parents about what you really want to do, and show them how committed you are to it. One obstacle which you will face in life is having to stand up to someone you love, or fear, and communicating to them that yes, they may know what’s best for you in their eyes, but you know yourself best.
However, if you really don’t know what you want to do or you don’t care, don’t be afraid to switch around and try different subjects during the first two weeks of school. Just know that different university courses require you to take specific subjects at the IB. Which brings on the next point.
Diversify your activities
Now, one aspect of the IB which I find that many students struggle with is CAS (Creativity, Action, Service). And boy oh boy, am I a true guru in this field. The students who struggle with CAS are usually the ones who think of it as a chore. If you do as well, I suggest you change your mindset and think of it as what the IB’s intention of it is- an enriching curriculum which pushes students out of their comfort zone, challenging themselves in ways they would have never expected.
EF Academy is an amazing school for CAS, as it gives you plenty of opportunities to simply do things. In my one and a quarter years of the IB, I now have over 45 entries in my CAS portfolio with several ongoing CAS projects. You’re going to have a lot of free time during the first year of the IB, don’t waste it all by lazing around.
Engage yourself in different activities and maybe even start something up by yourself. For example, in my first year when I was racking my brain for a Service, I found a Dementia/Alzheimer’s Memory Cafe near town. So, every Saturday, my friends and I went there to volunteer. And, towards the end of the year, I even got to meet Prince Edward of England when he came to visit said Memory Cafe. Now, in my second year, many students join me on Saturdays as well and we’ve grown into a much larger volunteer group. Amazing things can happen, and the possibilities are endless, if only you put yourself out there.
Take care of yourself
And finally, for my last tip, do take care of yourself while doing the IB. Yes, your work and grades are important, but your well-being and safety are too. You should always find the time to talk to your parents, relax with your friends, spend some time on your own to recharge, and enjoy your hobbies on top of all your work. It is possible, trust me.
To master the IB is to juggle your work and still know when to go to sleep; to work hard hitting the books while still going to the gym or doing sports to take care of your body; to meet all your deadlines and still meet your own social and emotional needs. Although the IB is a demanding program, you shouldn’t neglect your own health and let it completely dictate your life.
The International Baccalaureate® Diploma is a world-renowned qualification for students who seek a broad and challenging curriculum that helps them develop all the skills needed for success at university. Thanks to EF Academy’s unmatched internationalism, our students live the IB ethos every single day.