Personal Blog

Six Mistakes I Made During The IB - Shreya Sachdev

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a nice day. For today’s blog post, I thought I would talk about the six mistakes that I made during the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB). As you all know, I finished the IB in late May and since then, I’ve been on holiday and have had a lot of time to relax. With so much free time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the IB and what I would have done differently if I could go back. I’m not saying that I regret anything that I did because in the end I gained lots of knowledge from all my subjects and I’m so grateful to be able to have had such a great education. However, there are definitely things that I shouldn’t have done during the IB and mistakes that I made. I thought that by writing this blog post, I could help out anyone who is about to start the IB or is currently in the middle of the IB program, especially since this is the summer and anyone who is entering Year 13 in September really wants to make use of the summer effectively. I know it’s annoying because it’s your summer vacation and you just want to do what you want, but you’ll thank yourself later if you work now. Another reason I’m writing this post is because for a really long time, when I was in the IB, I would talk about how much I hated the IB and how I couldn’t wait for it to be over, and now that it is over I’ve had time to properly think about the IB and reflect on it. After thinking about it so much, I’ve realized that instead of blaming the IB program for my pain, I should have blamed myself for not managing my time properly and always being so pessimistic. I’ve decided that this is going to be my last blog post talking about the IB and that’s why I decided to make it a post speaking of the mistakes I made during the IB and overall reflecting on the program. Let’s start!

  1. Didn’t Review My Notes Enough: The first mistake that I’ll admit to have made during the IB is that I didn’t review my notes enough. The thing is, the IB is a two year program. Two years is a lot of time to learn a lot of new content and that’s why it’s extremely important to keep on remembering what you’ve learnt in the past. In my opinion, in the holidays of Year 12 and even the summer of Year 12, I would work harder on making sure that your notes are extremely organized and constantly reviewing all of your notes than working on your extended essay. Sure, the extended essay is important but if you think about it it’s only one extra point, whereas if you review your notes and make sure you understand them, that’s going to guarantee you a lot more points when it comes to your six subjects. During your first year of IB is when you learn the majority of the content, so if you make sure that the content you learnt in your first year is implanted in your brain before you go into your second year, then you’re going to feel so much more confident walking into your mock exams. The last thing that I want to mention about notes is that while you’re making them, make sure that you’re following the IB syllabus. This may sound obvious, but honestly a lot of teachers might feed you extra information (or not enough information) in class, so instead of taking notes based on what your teacher says in class, you should look at the actual IB syllabus to make sure that you’re following that specific topic and to make sure that you’re not accidentally missing a topic. For example, in my Geography class, my teacher would give us four to five case studies for each topic, but on the actual Geography syllabus, it clearly says “only two case studies required” and therefore, your teacher might accidentally be giving you more information than you need to know.

  2. Left My IAs Till The Last Minute: I think that the most annoying part of the IB are IAs. When you have tests and essays coming up, the most frustrating part is knowing that you also need to finish up your IA by the end of the week. I don’t know how it works in other schools, but in my school I was done with my Math and English IA before Year 13 started, but I was extremely behind with all my other IAs in other subjects. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but try and get all your IAs finished before January of Year 13. I think that’s when most people finish IAs off, but there were certainly people in my grade who were dragging their IAs on until April and March which is honestly ridiculous. Starting from January, you only want to be focusing on your mock exams and your final exams. However, when it comes to IAs, make sure to genuinely work hard on them. 20% of your final mark is a lot and if your exam hypothetically goes really badly, then you’ll feel better knowing that you got a 6 or a 7 on your IA.

  3. Cheated On My Mock Exams: Sorry if any of my teachers are reading this, but I cheated on my mock exams and pretty much everyone in my grade did. I won’t tell you how you can cheat on your mock exams since I don’t want you to feel tempted, but it’s extremely easy and I’m sure you’ll eventually find out when the time comes around since people in your grade will be talking about it. However, ignore those people and just focus on genuinely learning the content. You gain nothing from cheating on your mock exams because you obviously won’t be able to cheat when your real exams come around. I feel like the reason as to why I cheated and why most of my grade cheated on these mock exams was because we were told that even though these were our mock exams, we were still getting a report card at the end of them. As society, we’ve obviously been programmed to freak out at the thought of getting a report card and I think that’s what prompted all of us to cheat. Your mock exams are supposed to be preparation for your real exams and that’s why it’s a really bad idea to cheat. I’m ashamed that I cheated on my mock exams especially because some of my teachers were really proud of me for doing well and it was disgusting for me to act as if I had gained those marks all on my own merit.

  4. Cared About My Image Too Much: Another mistake I made during the IB was that I started with taking SL maths, and then I dropped to maths studies. I wish I had immediately gone into maths studies and had stuck with it rather than waiting three weeks before my Year 12 exams to drop to maths studies. I think the reason as to why I didn't drop to maths studies sooner was because I was afraid that the college that I wanted to go to wouldn’t accept me taking maths studies, but also because I cared too much about my image. I was worried that if I took maths studies then people would think that I wasn’t smart, and honestly that’s the dumbest thing I could have ever thought. The majority of people who make fun of people who are in maths studies are people who get 3s and 4s in SL maths. In the end, you just have to ask yourself whether or not you enjoy studying maths, and if the answer is no then just drop. I’m so happy that I dropped to maths studies because as a result, my overall score improved and I had more time to focus on the subjects I was genuinely interested in. Also, if you’ve made it clear in your university application that you don’t want to study maths and your university still doesn’t accept you taking maths studies, then in my opinion you shouldn’t want to go there anyway and you should look for a better university. I remember one of my friends wanted to study law in Germany, but because German Universities don’t accept maths studies she was forced to take SL maths which I think is absolutely ridiculous.

  5. Didn’t Communicate With My Teacher: If you knew some of my teachers then honestly you can’t blame me on this one, but the truth is that I should have communicated more with my teachers when it came to topics I didn’t understand. I think I’m quite a stubborn person and I have issues when it comes to authority, so I didn’t allow myself to ask my teachers for help or to go over something if I didn’t understand it. There were teachers I felt comfortable with and would go to for help, like my English, Math and Geography teacher, but when it came to my French and History teacher I was sometimes too afraid to ask them to explain something to me because they intimidated me, but I wish I had actually communicated with them because they’re my teachers and they obviously want to help me. Your teachers are not going to get mad at you if you ask them for help. If anything, it will show them that you care about your exams and that you want to do well in their class. Overall message: Even if you don’t like your teacher, communicate with them because you’re doing it for yourself and your future.

  6. Just Didn’t Study Enough: In the end, I’ll admit that I just didn’t study enough. I know people in my grade who would stay up till 2:00am or 3:00am in the morning before a test and wouldn’t stop studying until they were sure that they were going to ace the test. I was never that student. I would stop studying for a test by 11:30pm (latest) and then go to sleep. Of course, sleep is important but I’m sure that by studying an extra thirty of forty minutes I would’ve gotten a better grade on that test. The subject that I didn’t study enough for was Biology. Honestly, I complained a lot about having a terrible teacher, and even though he wasn’t the best, it doesn’t change the fact that I, myself, could have studied harder. It’s definitely hard to study for a subject you’re not interested in, but in the end you have to do it. After all, it was my decision to pick the IB and even if it wasn’t the right program for me, it doesn’t change the fact that I am now in the middle of it and now have to deal with the consequences and the workload. I should have spent less time complaining about the IB on this website, and more time trying to fix the problems I was having with the program.

Shreya Sachdev