With final exams less than five months away, you might be getting slightly nervous about how you might best approach them. Is it worth re-reading all of your notes again and again? Should you be flying through past papers? In this blog, we discuss how to revise for IB exams to make sure you do yourself justice!
1. Find Your Gaps
What’s the worst feeling in the world? Probably, opening an IB exam paper and not understanding a word of a question. You can be the hardest working student, but if you have neglected to cover or learn certain parts of your course, you can lose marks so easily! Make it a priority for you to grab hold of the syllabus for each of your subjects. These have short bullet points outlining the content you should have covered. Why not go through each of these with some highlighters to illustrate where you don’t need to spend too much time (green), where you might like to revisit (yellow) and where you need to really put in some work (red). Not only does this help you address some missing pieces, but it also means you avoid wasting time revising intensively on the content you feel confident with.
2. Fill the Gaps
Once you’ve found your gaps, the next step is to fill them! For this, your strategy is really dependent on the styles of learning that are effective for you. There are a tonne of great IB resources available to you and so once you’ve found the problematic content, its just a question of finding the time to find explanations for them. If you like learning visually, why not check out some of our YouTube videos from out top tutors who explain a number of the trickiest topics in the most popular IB subjects! Moreover, you can always look for help from your teachers, friends and even Lanterna – working together to fill knowledge gaps can be the fastest and most effective way to absorb IB content and get ready to smash those exams!
3. Condense Your Notes
Once we’ve got a complete overview of syllabus-specific content, it’s now time to reduce the volume of material we need to cover.
The Note Condensation method is one of the most effective ways to review material as you’re working with the material simultaneously to create better notes for yourself! So… how does it work? Well, step 1 is to go through your class notes or textbook and take notes on everything! This will take a long time, but it’ll be worth it.
After having taken notes on the whole syllabus, step 2 is to go through those notes and condense them. Turn paragraphs into bullet points and get rid of the material that you feel uber-confident in. Step 3 is to take your condensed notes and condense them again! You can do this as many times as you’d like, until you get down to what feels like a manageable study guide. No one should be looking at 100 pages of notes when you’re studying – get it down to 5-15 and you’ll be able to memorize it!
4. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
The final step in our IB Exam Revision Master Plan is to use PAST PAPERS! No matter how many flashcards you memorize, study guides you make, or textbook questions you ace, there is no better way to study than to use past papers. They allow you to improve in 2 key areas: 1. How the IB tends to ask questions, 2. How you are graded on the final exam!
- By becoming an expert at how the IB tends to ask questions, you’ll be able to breeze through the easy questions and give yourself more time to tackle the difficult ones. Most students lose a ton of points due to not having enough time, so familiarity with the content is one of the most important factors in guaranteeing that you won’t give away marks on things that you actually knew!
- After finishing a practice exam, you can check your own work and see how many points you would have gotten. By becoming familiar with how you are graded, you will get a better idea of what you need to include in your answers so that you don’t give away silly marks. For example, take advantage of the fact that you can get ‘method marks’ in math – so even if your math is wrong, you can get points for attempting the correct method!
However, try and avoid checking the mark scheme before you’ve tried to tackle a tricky question. It’s easy to have the mark scheme by your side and lul yourself into believing that you understand the question, but really it was just because you took a sneak peek at the mark scheme. On the final exam there will be no mark scheme there to help you, so don’t fool yourself!
Bonus Tip: Chip Away At Your Weakest Areas!
We all have that subject that we just don’t get on that well with. The one where it seems that no matter how hard we try, or how many hours of work we put in, we can’t achieve the marks we want. A common reaction of DP2 students in such a situation is to panic and put off revising the content until it’s not possible to put it off any longer. Sadly, this approach can actually make matters worse! Instead, we recommend using some of your dead time (link) on a daily basis in order to chip away at problem areas. Podcasts, videos, and flashcards are all super easy and fun ways to cover tricky content. Fun Fact: If you were to put in ten minutes of work a day from the beginning of February until the start of May, you’ll put in almost 1000 extra minutes of solid study!
So there we have it, our four steps for how to revise for your IB exams! We hope that you can take some tips away that can catapult you to IB success. If you’re still working on a couple of outstanding IA’s or need a little assistance for a particular subject, take a look at some of the other services we offer below!