1. Take practice (or previous) examsPractice or previous exams are perhaps your most valuable resource for IB exam preparation when they are available. Real IB exams from the test-makers themselves are fully reflective of the format, structure, and content you will encounter on test day. As you take previous IB exams, you will notice patterns in the ways questions are worded and which material you are frequently tested on. Learning the material is only half the battle; the other half is knowing how to apply your knowledge and see relationships between the material. For example, in history, one relationship you should anticipate is cause and effect. The first time or two, you may take an IB exam at your own pace, in a comfortable environment, and with your notes nearby. However, once you become familiar with the test’s general layout, it is best to treat previous exams like the real thing. This involves sitting at a desk or table, timing yourself, and relying purely on your own knowledge to answer the questions. This is the only way to ensure you are not surprised by the conditions you will face on test day.
2. Plan your essaysA little bit of planning can make a big difference when it comes to IB exams with an essay component. Setting aside just a few minutes to make a rough outline or a bullet-point list can allow you to write a truly stellar essay. Some studies show that students who plan their essays tend to receive higher scores than students who do not plan. Every student’s worst nightmare is having to start an essay over while the clock is ticking. Preparing an outline for your response beforehand can help you manage your time and avoid the headache of restarting a poor essay done out of haste. Would you believe you could plan your essay before you even find out the prompt? If you know certain topics really well, you might be able to find a way to apply them to different situations. For example, you could reference World War II for questions about the causes and effects of war. Although you may not know the exact nuances of the essay questions, you can put extra time into studying a few topics that have a broad application. It is always recommended to look at past prompt examples, too, to get a feel for the sorts of questions you could be faced with.
3. Make your own study scheduleAt least a month before your scheduled test, you should design a personalized study schedule that you can stick to. You should spend a little time studying every day, and you should focus your efforts on your weakest areas. Take your individual needs into account when you formulate your schedule. Think about what time of day you work best during, as well as other obligations (sports, work, etc.) you may have. Most importantly, be realistic when you make your study schedule. If you know you could not commit a whole hour to IB studies each day, aim for a more feasible chunk of time. While 20 minutes a day, for instance, may not seem like much, it equates to nearly 10 hours of study time over the course of a month. Every student is different, so every student will have his or her own study habits. Do not be dismayed if your classmate dedicates five hours a week to IB exam preparation but you can only dedicate three. You might not need to devote as much time as your classmate does to do well on the IB exam. Be concerned only about your own goals and what is best for you to achieve them. Getting ready for IB exams is similar to getting ready for any other type of exam. To do well on the IB exams, you must know what to expect, plan ahead, and budget your study time. Draw on traditional study methods, but tweak them specifically for the IB exams and your personal preferences. Good luck!
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.