I Finished the IB!
I never thought this day would come, but it's here!
I'm proud to present the fact that I am officially done with everything IB-related. I wanted to post this on the day that my exams were finished but my brain just told me to take a break from writing stuff. So here it is, three days later!
My last exam, which (to our class' dismay) took place on the very last day of the IB exam session. But I can't really complain about the schedule because I started later than most people and had all my exams spaced out nicely — even the order of the subjects was to my benefit.
One thing that I'm constantly thanking my past self for is that I chose to take Theatre. This meant that I only had to take exams for five subjects instead of six. And when there are multiple papers for some subjects, not having one subject to worry about is an absolute blessing.
I thought I'd be more stressed about the exams but other than the mild nervousness that I always get before an exam, they all went pretty swimmingly. I knew that I had enough practice and revision for maths and French so the first and last days of my exam period were a nice way to ease into the IB. Psychology had quite a lot of studies that I had to memorize, but I was quite strategic with my choice of studies, which meant that I had reduced a lot of the content. English was something I would have been nervous about, but my English teacher taught us so thoroughly during lessons that if I did what I had been doing, I was sure that I could write something that was of great quality.
I was most worried about biology because of the undeniable fact that the content that I had to digest was huge compared to the other subjects. We hadn't solved many data-based questions (which are the trickiest to score marks in) so that didn't do good for my confidence. But I knew that however much they would twist the questions, the exam would, in the end, be based on the content that we learned. So I took a week to basically go through all the content of the
But after each exam, I never felt like I had messed it up completely. It always ranged from 'Wow, that went really well! I actually had some fun!" to "Yeah, I think it's gonna be fine.". And until I get my results on the 6th of July, I'm not even going to think about the exams.
The method I used for studying varied a lot from subject to subject. But to give you a summary:
Maths → Go through the concepts/process of solving questions. After you understand the concepts, practice applying the skills and get used to the exam style by going through past paper questions. I took Applications and Interpretations, which meant that mastering some of the functions of the Graphic Display Calculator made solving questions easier.
Biology → I know people are now trying to move away from 'just taking notes', but to be honest, I think the more 'active methods' of revision work best when you actually have an understanding of the information. So I started with summary notes — not copying and pasting from the textbook but picking out parts that I don't understand and putting them into my own words. Then, I picked out some of the processes (chemiosmosis during photosynthesis, respiration, peat formation, DNA translation) and tried to write the steps down on a blank piece of paper (active recall).
English → I went through some useful terms that could help me identify the features of the given text, but I mainly focused on how to link my broad, thematic understanding of the text to the fine-grained analytical points that I was making in relation to the guiding question.
Psychology → I started out by mapping out what studies could be used for each topic/sub-topic. I tried to make sure that I picked a study that could be used for different topics because overlapping studies meant that I could reduce the number of studies I had to memorize. I also went through past papers from 2019 until 2021 to see if there were questions or topics that I could definitely set aside (i.e. they were asked in the previous year's exam or came up too often). I did see a pattern and had a feeling that in our year, Higher Level content in the Cognitive Approach would be a high possibility. (That was actually the case ☺️) After picking out my studies, I spent the rest of my time summarising key features of the exam (Aim, Method, Design, Results, Conclusion) and linked them with the topic they were being asked about.
French → I took French Ab Initio (beginner's course) so I might not be the best one to ask for high-level revision tactics but for the writing exam, memorizing a few go-to phrases as well as the different structures of a text (journal, letter, invitation, etc) really helped me ease my mind. For reading, I tried to learn synonyms of words because most of the time, the word in the text and the word in the possible answers are synonyms of each other. And for listening, I didn't have a lot of resources since we were the first year to sit an exam with it, but I just exposed myself by listening to news stories and audiobooks in French.
(If you want a more in-depth way of revising for these exams, send me an email through firstname.lastname@example.org !)
Even though we took mock exams in Years 12 and 13, I was still a little confused when I took my first exam, mainly because I didn't know what to do with the 'cover sheet' and all those little boxes and the presence of the string tag. After a few exams, using them was like second nature (I even got two string tags to keep after asking the exam invigilator for them).
All my teachers were so supportive throughout the whole process. Every time I bumped into them at school, they would ask me how everything was going and whether I was getting enough sleep between revisions. I gave my subject teachers updates on how the exams went since they all sent me encouraging messages before the exams. It's such a small thing but it truly made the exam period a little better to endure. Even our IB coordinator cracked jokes and tried her best to attend to our needs. This took a lot of the exam anxiety off my back.
I'm so glad that my exams are over. They weren't terrible, but I don't want to repeat that whole process again. From now until graduation, I'll be focusing on rekindling my hobbies, having fun with friends, prepping for prom, and writing my valedictory speech!