We all know the IB isn’t easy. With six subjects, innumerable CAS hours and seemingly endless IAs and exams, IB students need some shortcuts! In this blog, we’ve put together some of the Lanterna team’s best IB hacks for tackling all parts of your diploma!

The Core

Record your CAS reflections – you’ll have to check with your CAS coordinator before doing this as not all coordinators will allow this, but you’re often allowed to audio/video record your CAS reflections instead of writing them out! Don’t waste your time trying to craft a perfectly written essay as in the end you just need sufficient proof that you’ve done the activities you said! By recording these reflections you can massively cut down the amount of time they take up – and you could even do them on-the-go.

Internal Assessments

Learn how to play the game – we’ve seen too many IB students get terrible grades on their IA’s despite having pretty good content. Their issue was almost always forgetting that the IB is very particular in how they want an IA to look like. You may have solved Fermat’s Last Theorem in your Math IA, but if you forgot to show personal engagement, or you forgot to reflect on why this proof is interesting/important you might still end up with a bad grade! Don’t give away silly points – take a look at our IA guides before handing in those IAs to make sure you’ve done everything you can. 

Make your drafts matter – we often see students hand in a half-baked essay for their IA drafts and despair! Your teachers can only mark and assist what they read! Make it a priority to hand in a draft that’s as complete as possible to give yourself the best chance of success! The feedback they give you may be the difference between that grade you’re on and then one you want!


Get to know your calculator – your calculator should be your biggest friend as a math and science student. Countless students show up on the day of their exam and are still more scared by their calculator than they are friendly with it. On all calculator papers, understanding the full extent of the capabilities of your calculator can save you tons of time! Saving time on question after question is going to ensure you have more time to tackle those difficult questions at the end, guaranteeing that you’ll do better. Pick up your calculator right now and familiarize yourself with nSolve, how to take derivatives on your calculator, using your calculator to solve simultaneous equations, and much more!

Find your dead time – Did you know that there is so much easy time for simple revision that you are missing every day? What do you tend to do on your way to school or walking into town? Listening to the same song again and again? Daydreaming or napping? Why not plug this unproductive, uninteresting period of your day with something small and IB-based? Pop on a podcast, flick through some flashcards or even check out some of our top IB videos! Just five minutes a day will really add up and put yourself in a great position to smash those exams!

In the Exam

Use Your Reading TimeYou might not know it right now, but for some of your final exams you are given five minutes reading time. What are you supposed to use this for? Twiddle your thumbs? Take nervous sips of water? No. This time is invaluable in helping you plan your line of attack! Of our IB hacks, this might seem the smallest but if you use it effectively – to relax and work out how you’ll go through the paper – it might make all the difference!

Leave Nothing Blank – if you’ve ever seen a math’s markscheme, you’ll have seen that you don’t just pick up points for getting the right answer – many points are given for your method and your attempts at reaching the correct answers. One of the biggest mistakes we make when taking math tests is we think that if we have no idea how to approach a question then there’s no way we can pick up any points. That’s far from the truth! You can pick up ‘easy’ points on every question by just an attempt at substitution into the appropriate formula even if you have no idea what to do next. Do this for all the questions that you have no idea how to approach, because you’re never going to be punished for writing something incorrect, and you might end up with a few extra points at the end of the exam. A few points could be the difference between passing and failing so don’t leave those points on the table!

So there we have it, 7 top IB hacks from our top Lanterna team! Try and remember these as you head through the diploma – we are sure they’ll make a difference! If you’re looking for the best way you can make an impact on your studies, click here to take a look at our online private tutoring solutions!