It’s finally here! You made it through the long and gruelling term one. You’ve truly earned your chance to sit back and relax. It’s really important that you take this chance to have a well-deserved and much needed break from studying. But of course, especially if you’re a final year IB student, I don’t advise you switch off altogether over the Winter break. Often, no matter how hard you try to relax, there’s always that niggling feeling at the back of your mind that you’ve got work to do. Revision, essays, internal assessment deadlines… you name it, the IB doesn’t go on pause just because you’re not in school.

I know, the Winter holiday never seems long enough. How on earth are you going to squeeze in any work amongst all that sleeping, relaxing, eating and family time?

Distractions. Distractions everywhere.

More now than at any other time in the year, the number of things available to procrastinate with are never-ending. Wrapping presents, baking gingerbread, writing cards, hanging tinsel from every available surface. So how to make sure you don’t end up in a panicked frenzy on the last day of the Winter break, having done nothing you’d planned to do?

Alternative Christmas carols

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Write your Christmas list

Sadly I’m not talking the conventional type addressed to Santa where you list all the gifts you want. I mean write a thorough to-do list. List the things that you know you really should get done this break. Organisation is key here. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the family celebrations and forget an IA here or an essay there.



Next, rank them in terms of priority. Which are absolutely essential to get done? And which can technically wait if needs be. Your to-do list may be long. So how should you prioritise your tasks? IB students, meet your good friend, the prioritisation square. Use this to score your tasks on a basis of urgency (when are they due) and the amount of brain power required (Maths IA vs reading 2 chapters of your English book). This will give you an action plan. Make sure you start with the most urgent, difficult tasks rather than getting caught up doing all of the small, easy ones, which is so tempting to do.

The prioritisation square

The prioritisation square


Short and efficient study periods

Work is like gas. It expands to fill the space you give it. If you give yourself a 2-hour window to do a task, likelihood is it will take you that long to do. Even if the task is only a small one, you’ll end up procrastinating for more time than the task actually takes. Give yourself an hour to do the same task, and more often than not you will be able to get it done. Using this theory, you’ll see how it makes much more sense to give yourself short, intensive blocks of time to work at regular intervals throughout the winter break.

Strange memory hacks that you won’t BELIEVE!

To help you regulate this, download the app Strict Workflow, and work in short bursts of 25 minutes to boost the efficiency of your studying. Are you keen on using apps to help you study? For more suggestions on which apps we recommend you use, check out our ‘app your way to IB success’ blog post and page 8 & 9 of our zine!


Dead time

When thinking about time you have available to study over the holidays, you may just think simply of the time you will spend at home. In reality, however, you may be spending a considerate amount of time travelling on a plane, train, in the car. This is what we call ‘dead time’. And it’s a great resource. Make a list of the to-do’s that you can do out and about. Something that doesn’t require a good internet connection or heaps of hefty textbooks.

Get the family involved!

The Winter break is a great opportunity to spend lots of quality time with your family and friends, so you really don’t want your schoolwork getting in the way of this. Why not combine family time and study time? Get your family members to quiz you on what you’re revising. Make it competitive by involving your siblings. Ask family members to proof read an assignment or essay, and see if they have anything to add.


Don’t forget!

If you’re in need of a boost in your IB subjects before heading back to school in January, join us at our Winter Revision Courses in London! Here, our fabulous tutors will be taking you through everything you need to know going into this final stretch. Read more about the January courses here.


Don’t let the sweet cheery sound of jingle bells be tainted by the dread of all that ho-ho-homework. Balance the two. Prioritise, work in short bursts, and have a wonderful Winter break!