I made sure to sleep properly and spread my work out so I wasn’t as overwhelmed. I made sure that I had a good support network of friends and teachers I could talk to if I ever felt stressed. I think what was most important was that I took time out for myself. There is this common misconception that IB demands you to stay at home all day and do nothing but study, but I firmly believe that the best way to excel at IB is to find an outlet amidst all the stress to look after yourself.
I personally was involved in several activities, such as debating, Dungeons and Dragons (which I joined for the first time in Year 12, and completely loved it!) and my school’s Charity Committee. Being so involved allowed me to try new things and continue to pursue hobbies I enjoyed, and it also allowed me to take a step back from all the pressures of IB and remember that there was so much more to my high school experience than the numbers I get in the diploma. Having that mentality helped me stay calm and better confront the immense workload.
I think another thing that helped me do well was I took subjects I genuinely enjoyed, which made the workload more bearable as it was something I was willing to put the time and effort into.
IB has definitely taught me that I’m capable of doing much more work than I expected within a given amount of time. Due to all of the demands of IB, such as internal assessments and CAS requirements, IB has definitely taught me to become more efficient with my time and better able to tackle a rigorous workload.
Moreover, one of the best things IB taught me was how to learn. So much of IB is independent research, such as the Extended Essay and the internal assessments you have to do for each of your subjects. I found this to be particularly beneficial because even though I considered myself weaker in certain subjects, I still had to find a topic I enjoyed and explore it in depth for my CAS. While challenging at first, it was incredibly rewarding as I learned that even in subjects I thought I wasn’t particularly inclined towards, I could explore my interests, learn to think differently and approach my subjects with a newfound appreciation.
In the Extended Essay, you are encouraged to explore a topic you’re interested in and come to your own conclusions. I think IB has definitely taught me to be a more independent, critical thinker, and it is the skills to pursue my interests on my own and conduct detailed research that will definitely help me at university, especially because IB enforces that the way to success isn’t to be spoon-fed all the content, but to be proactive with your work.
IB is incredibly rigorous, and you’re going to spend the two years being so utterly absorbed in all the numbers and the stress and the workload – but my best advice is to always remember that these two years, while formative, are not the end-all be-all. Do what you love, experiment, take time out for yourself, and know that while it’s important to work hard, don’t let the stress or the numbers define you. There is life beyond IB. Instead, treat IB as a stepping stone, don’t let it restrict you. You’ll learn so much in IB, but there’s still plenty of learning to do in life and beyond your high school years – enjoy it and continue developing as a wonderful person.
Another piece of advice I’d give is don’t listen to the noise – it’s very easy to compare yourself to others during IB or even try and meet other people’s expectations of you, but at the end of the day, IB is your own experience to be had. Work hard, block out the noise, and do the subjects you love.
Next page: Meet George Shen Hongze!