Work until You’re Muscle-bound!

This is probably the most nervous time of the 2 years for the IBDP students. There is the fear that they will get crushed by the upcoming exams. And the exams come very quickly and really on top of each other.

My experience of talking to students through this period, is that they keep working, possibly harder than they have ever worked, and they are all worried about how it will go. And then there is the ‘thing’ we do not talk about … over the last 2 years, all the wasted time, all the moments when the student has allowed themselves to be lazy, to not do enough work, to shy away from making the effort they know they should have made. All the many pieces of homework that were handed in (or not!) and you know that the work was not a true reflection of your ability – it does not make you feel proud to say ‘That work is mine’.  All the moments of laziness in the last 2 years now come crushing back.

My advice is to put these negative feelings aside … because there is nothing that can be done about the past – there is no way to go back and change things – you made your choices and sadly, you must live with them. Further, do not look to blame anyone else for your own mistakes – this is a negative thing that people do when they feel under threat of some kind – the defence mechanisms kick in and we look for someone else to blame … because it can’t be your fault … surely! These negative thoughts and actions do nothing for you as a person – they represent a small aspect of the worst parts of us, so try to rise above them.

The bottom line now, is that all you can do is try your best. Focus on subjects by topic. Give yourself a short period to try to summarise each topic and try to ensure you grasp as much of the material (i.e., understand the material) as you can and then start working on past exam questions. Your teacher may well have questions by topic area and you can go through these, alongside the marking schemes. If you don’t have these, contact me and I will provide them for you!

Every now and then, do a full paper – this will allow you to become familiar with the papers but also, very importantly, to time yourself – you need to maximise your marks and that means, stay within the time and do not reach the end of the exam without trying every question. It is a sin to reach the end of a paper and be able to say ‘I did not try the last question because I did not have enough time’.

My final piece of advice here, is to take the responsibility onto your own shoulder for your answers. Try to write down your answer and then compare it to the official marking scheme. If you do not have large numbers of marking schemes, search the web – they are all there. And when you make a mistake, ‘learn’ the way the IB want you to answer the question – try not to convince yourself that your answer is basically the same – it usually is not!

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