Preparation is everything

The academic year has started or is about to start for students.  This is the stage where the success of failure of the year begins – right now!



If you are about to start IB1, you have a few really big hurdles to overcome – and each one can lead to disaster for your course.  I know, it is difficult to really agree with this since it surely cannot be right – “I could be failing my course right now”.  But unfortunately, it is true.  If you do not believe me, consider the following two facts about the IB(HL) course:


1. The IB(HL) course is linear.  There are no mid-term exams, allowing you to build up credit – it is all left to the end.  And when you get there, the exams follow one after the other – no time between them – so you have to be ready to answer anything from the course, at one moment in time.  This is important because it means that you must work hard so that you try to get a grip of what is going on, from the very beginning.  If you do not do this, you will give yourself a much harder job through the IB revision process.


2. The IB(HL) course is too big.  For the time available, the course is huge.  This means that your IBDP revision time is likely to be less than you would like.  Again, you must work hard from lesson 1.


If you do not start working hard from the beginning, it is likely that you will pay the price with your grades.  So be warned – prepare yourself now.  Here’s a couple of simple things to start with – make sure you have got yourself an electronic copy of the syllabus and the Data Booklet.  Your also need a paper copy of the Data Booklet which should be with you for every lesson – punch holes in it and put it in a lever-arch file.


For every lesson, when you see a new formula, check it out in the data booklet.  If it is there, make a mental note.  If it is not there, but the teacher seems to feel it is important, ask – “Is this formula important enough so that I have to remember it?”.


Do not be lazy with your work – get it done – it should be your first and top priority.  This does not mean that you never ‘play’, it means that you get the work done first, then you play.  And a plea – you should NEVER have free time in your life – free time means you are wasting the time, and you will ‘never’ get it back.  If you have some time available, and nothing to do … read – read as much as you can.  If you want a list of interesting books on a physics-theme, then ask your teacher … or me!




If you are about to start your second year, you need to ensure that you have got a good grip of the IB1 work.  Go through your notes and make sure that you understand what you did.  If there are parts you did not get a grip of, then put is big red question mark in the margin and ask your teacher when you start work.  Also do not forget, you could always read the text book or look on the web.  If neither of these works, ask a friend – ask someone who might be able to explain it to you.


Make sure your notes are in good order and if not, colour-photocopy someone else’s – obviously someone who has good, neat handwriting (and I am assuming they used colour).  You need to remember that you now only have a term and a little bit more.  About half way through the Spring Term, you should be finishing your course.  This short amount of time will go very quickly – it is vital that you use it well.


‘Free Time’ – you don’t really have any!  You need to use your time wisely to work hard and revise.  You should start your revision soon – within the next few weeks.  You should take each Topic and make notes on your notes.  Then you get copies of past exam papers and start doing them.


I would also ask your teacher if they have any old Paper 1s – the multiple choice paper.  If so, you should try to do one paper 1 every week.  Spend 1 hour on it (even for SL) and then give your teacher the answers and ask if they will mark it for you – it does not take long to mark them – it is only multiple choice.  If they do not have the time to mark it for you, mark it yourself.  All the exams are on the web somewhere – I am sure you will know how to get them – they are there waiting for you – so use them.


Remember that for IB1 and IB2, the next few months are really important – work hard, start as you mean to go on (wow, I am turning into cliché man!) and hit your work hard. IB Physics is the most amazing subject – full of strange ideas that have confounded the smartest minds on Earth – if you are worried because it seems hard, don’t be – it is hard, that’s why we do it.



1 Comment
  • Alex
    August 25, 2014


    Please could you recommend me some good physics books to read?

    Many thanks


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