Everyone at Lanterna remembers what it was like doing the IB. We also know what it takes to succeed, and that is why we’ve made it our mission to support all of you still ‘in the trenches’. In this blog series we’re asking you to send in all the questions you’ve been meaning to ask about getting through the IB. Here are our answers.
Question: Do you have any tips on how to stop procrastinating and how to become motivated to actually start any revision?
So to start, this is a very big question. Procrastination was a big problem for me when I did the IB, and you’ve hit the nail on the head when you connect it with motivation. Often we procrastinate most when we don’t want to do the work itself. So the key to really stop procrastinating, or at least to stop procrastinating enough that we do the work, is to make the workload feel more manageable.
This is easier said than done, of course! Most often when we don’t feel motivated to do a piece of work or start revision, it’s actually because we’re missing an essential piece of preparation that would allow us to start. Because we all know that revision will be good in the long-term. But sometimes the long-term goal isn’t enough. Instead, try to think in the short-term. Think about what is really making the revision feel hard. Is it because there’s so much of it? Because you don’t know where to start? Because you’re afraid you’ll never do it well enough? All of these are very common worries. But if you break the revision down into steps it becomes a lot more manageable. An essential event that needs to happen before revision starts is to plan your revision. Give yourself an afternoon or even just an hour or two to organise your notebooks, subject by subject, so that you have an idea of what you actually need to do. Each subject can be divided into topics, and if you look at past exam papers you’ll be able to see what you need to know for what exam. Using the syllabus alongside this is also a way to make it feel more manageable, because the syllabus has all the topics laid out for you. The best thing about this ‘preparation’ stage is it doesn’t take a lot of brain power, which means it’s easier and therefore it’s less tempting to procrastinate while you’re doing it. But as I said, once you’ve done this, the whole process will get easier afterwards.
Question: I was wondering if you had any good revision tips concerning Chemistry and Biology. How do you, in as little time as possible, revise effectively, create good overviews and ensure you are prepared for the exam?
Thanks for your question – I know many IB students will be puzzling over how to get the whole Bio/Chem syllabus into their brains over the next few months! First of all: you mentioned the syllabus. I would recommend that if you haven’t already, you take a look at our blog post here which is all about using your syllabus to ensure that you cover everything and maximise your learning potential.
I would also say that the key to efficient revision is to narrow information down. What I did for my HL Biology exam was to sit with my textbook, class notes and revision guide to hand whenever I was revising a certain topic. From there, I would pick out the most important information from each source, and type it up in concise bullet points, inserting pictures, using colour and bold to make things stand out. Once I’d done this for a whole subject, I would then go through the information again and hand-write flash cards, putting on them only the absolutely crucial information – key buzzwords, numbers, that sort of thing. These flash cards were then really handy to flick through in the lead up to the exam, to maximise how much I remembered.
Question: How would you do notes for English B? I cannot find any information that would be worthwhile.
When it comes to any kind of Language B the trick to learning it well is to practice speaking, reading and writing it, as I’m sure you know. It’s not just a case of making notes that you’ll be able to memorise later, because languages develop with time. Instead, think of your notes as records of all the most essential information that you should be learning as you go along. Everything from new vocabulary and grammar to set phrases can go in there. As well as this try to include clear guidelines for what you can practice ahead of the exam, whether this is an example of a particular format that you may need to write in, or thematic ideas you might need to articulate. If you’re studying literature in the language, also include analysis and ideas which you can use in your essays.
It’s inevitable that you’ll forgot some of the things you’re learning in class, and so try to choose which pieces of information you want to remember as you go along. You could try dividing each double-page or A4 page into two columns, for example, and put your rough notes on one side as you go along in class, and then writing a neater, clearer version of the most important notes alongside it. The thing I found most helpful with my Language B was I chose to remember the things I liked first. So if a very random word came up in class that caught my attention, I would make sure to note it down. Similarly I kept a record of my favourite phrases and ideas that would help me make my answers more sophisticated in the final exam.