It’s the time when pumpkins grace the shelves of stores and a certain kind of latte becomes popular again. When some people think dressing up as clowns is just fun and games, and others freak out after watching The Blair Witch Project. That’s right, Halloween is upon us again.

Here at the Lanterna offices, we are not ones to miss a seasonal opportunity. We thought, therefore, we’d bring you couple of scary stories to get you in the mood. With the help of our tutors (all IB graduates), we set out to find some of the worst IB horror stories around. So, without further ado, let’s launch into some blood curdling tales we’ve heard from past IB students (and how to avoid them, of course).


Terrifying TOK

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in London, there was a girl writing her TOK essay. This girl was pretty pleased with her TOK essay. She’d tried to add an entire way of knowing to that TOK wheel and was happy with how she’d argued it. This girl was also, however, a keen protector of the environment at the time, always looking to cut down her carbon footprint. This led her to think double-sided printing was ALWAYS the best option. This girl, whom double-sided printed her TOK essay learned the hard way, that this is not okay. Her school, unknowing of her keenness to save the environment, did not think to flip the pages when scanning her essay to send to examiners. Perhaps some of you can see where this is going? She only ended up submitting half a TOK essay.


This may seem like a disaster (to the girl in question it definitely felt like one) but while these situations are not ideal, they are not awful. It’s probably best to avoid these situations altogether by reading carefully the ‘submissions’ section of your syllabus. But, equally, don’t panic if something like this does happen. If you realise in time, tell your school. If not, remember that one essay doesn’t make up your whole grade here—you’ll have either presentations or exams to make up for the mishap. This horror story can definitely still have a happy ending. If this story got you thinking about your TOK essay and presentations, check out our TOK guide here.

Murderously muddled Maths Studies

Our next horror story takes place on a cold Swedish day in 2014. A group of bleary-eyed Maths Studies students took their seats in the exam hall with a mixture of fear and trepidation. One student, in particular, a confident mathematician, was feeling pretty happy with himself as the exam went on. He’d answered all the questions in good time and was checking over his final answer as the five-minute warning was read out. While checking his last question, he noticed something. At the bottom of the ‘final’ page, he saw in small print: Please Turn Over. Gripped with fear, he did as instructed and, to his horror, found a final, 8 mark question that he had left unanswered.

Guide to the IB - Part 5: Subject Group 4


Again, this seemed like the end of the world at the time. Having less than five minutes to answer any long-form question is probably not enough. If this does happen to you—again don’t panic. Remember that your exam papers are a cumulative total of marks, and you don’t need full marks to get even a 7. It is, however, better to avoid this happening altogether. You know those 5 minutes of reading time you have at the beginning of exams (or at least, now you know…)? Well, those 5 minutes is a great time to check the entire exam paper. Read it back to front, left to right, backward if you must: just make sure you know where the questions end! Feeling worried about mocks? Final exams? Want some more advice like this? Check out some more exam tips from some previous IB students here.


Nearly failing because of CAS

Our final tale, coming from the depth of the Bavarian black forest, revolves around the dreaded CAS reflections. One student, halfway through their second year of the IB, decided to take stock of their CAS. They began looking roughly at the amount of CAS hours required. At first, they were pleased—their love of handball made sure their action hours were on point. Their involvement with the local orchestra also ensured they were heading for enough in creativity. And then it hit them—they hadn’t done a single hour of service…


While sometimes it’s easy to forget CAS among all your other IB subjects, it’s important to remember that you do actually need to pass CAS to pass the diploma. This student suddenly realised that without any service hours—this wasn’t going to happen. Failing the IB because of CAS, I’m sure we all agree, is not cool. Especially if you don’t do any service—that’s just bad. But I get sometimes finding the inspiration to complete CAS is tricky. Definitely try to keep on top of your CAS reflections- this will mean you don’t have a moment like the above-mentioned student, where you suddenly realise you are lacking in one (or all) of the three areas. Also, try to do something you enjoy! It’s so much easier to get things done when you are having fun (cliché I know, but true). Check out our guide to inspired CAS projects here for some more CAS related tips.

“It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.” Halloween (1978)

The IB can sometimes feel like a terror, but perhaps we should try keep our scary stories for Halloween. Keep checking back every Thursday for some more tricks (or treats?) for acing the diploma and banishing those IB demons.

Watch our free IB videos here!
More blog posts for you: