5 Testing Tips for Your Hardest IB Exams

Erica Cirino, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

April 08, 2015

5 Testing Tips for Your Hardest IB Exams
College admissions officers tend to view IB diplomas very favorably, as they require a great deal of dedication and effort.
International Baccalaureate (or IB) courses are designed to be more rigorous than typical high school classes. This spring, thousands of students at nearly 3,000 high schools will face the ultimate challenge – acing their May IB exams. IB test scores are one of the main factors in determining your eligibility status for earning an IB diploma. College admissions officers tend to view IB diplomas very favorably, as they require a great deal of dedication and effort. Even if you opt to enroll in just a few IB courses, rather than the full IB diploma, most colleges will reward you for earning high IB scores – often with class credit.
IB exams, which heavily utilize essay and short-answer items, challenge you to connect the knowledge you have learned in your IB courses to new ideas and information presented to you on test day. For this reason, IB exams can be very challenging. However, adhering to the five tips below can make even your hardest IB tests a bit easier.
1. Establish a regular study schedule
When it comes to exam prep, cramming is never a smart idea. This is especially true for IB tests, which tend to cover an extensive amount of information.
To help you absorb all the necessary content, start studying for your IB exams at least 10 weeks before they are scheduled. For May exams, this means the beginning or middle of March. A great rule of thumb is to set aside an hour a day for your prep.
2. Take past years’ tests
Like other standardized exams with a specific format, the best way to study for your IB tests is to take exams from prior years. Doing so can help you familiarize yourself with the test’s content and format.
Consider asking your teachers for copies of previous IB exams, if they are available. You can also find sample tests on the International Baccalaureate Organization’s web site.
3. Come to your exams prepared
Taking IB tests can be stressful, but being well prepared can help to alleviate some of your anxiety. Besides studying, be sure to get enough sleep and to eat well in the days leading up to your exams. No matter how much you review, a lack of energy can impair your test-taking ability. Individual IB exams are generally one to two hours in length. Bring with you only what is specified in your IB exam instructions. For instance, calculator use is limited to specific subjects like Biology and Mathematics.
4. Outline your responses before recording them in your answer booklet
As you can imagine, students who answer IB test questions fully and thoughtfully score highest on their IB exams. Try outlining the key points of your responses before you record them in your answer booklet. Organizing your ideas makes it less likely that you will forget to include a key point in your responses. It will also allow you to more easily check that you have fully answered all parts of a given question, thus maximizing the number of points you can earn per item.
5. Reread your responses and revise as needed
After completely answering all of the questions on your IB test (and if time permits), go back and read over the responses you have recorded in your answer booklet. Ensure that you have answered all portions of a multi-part question, and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. Taking the time to go back and polish your work can help to improve your exam score. Good luck!

Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a technology platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all levels of education achieve academic excellence.

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