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David Kroell

Junior Year (Grade 11) Not doing so well

Hello, I'm in grade 11, my second year of the IBDP.

I just finished my exams this year, and they weren't that good. They weren't the real IB exams, just MOCKs that we took in school. I'm concerned now, because I want to study Computer Science in University. My teachers keep telling me that my rae will get better, but I'm not sure of that.

I work very hard to get good grades, and it seems as though it's not paying off.

-I do all the exercises and studying for math that I am assigned, and I study hard, and I'm still getting a 4 (Mathematics SL)

-I do all the studying I can for Biology, and I'm still getting a 4, (Biology SL)

-I do the best that I possibly can even though Spanish is a challenge for me, I'm still getting a 4, (Spanish ab. initio)

-I do as much studying that I can for Computer science, and even though I got a pitiful grade on a SL paper after my first year, the teacher said that I'll do better next year. I got a 3!!! (Computer Science HL)

-I do as much background reading as possible for economics, revising key terms and what not, and I am still on a 4,(Economics HL)

-I do as much as I can for English. I am a good writer, but I'm still not happy with a grade 5, (English A Lang & Lit HL)

All in all my scores add up to 24 for the first year. And for what? I've been studying hard, missing sleep, and it doesn't seem worth it in the end. I want to keep up my work ethic though, maybe some university will be interested with me.

Can I still reach my target grade of:

Computer science HL - 7

English HL - 6

Economics HL - 6

Math SL - 6

Biology SL - 5

Spanish ab initio 4/5

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You seem to be a really stuck! Maybe you should try a new revision technique? What I find most people forget to do is to actually try to UNDERSTAND what you're learning, not just memorizing it. The IB really like to make people make connections and apply knowledge - which is really hard to do if all you've done is memorized. Try to look at videos online for bio and maths, and see if that helps you. Also, if you're studying really hard for subjects and you aren't getting the grades you think you deserve, I'd go talk to your teachers about that too. Ask them how they think you should revise, and see if they have any tips/websites that would help.

As for computer science, I can't help you there, but what I find really helps is going to see your teacher whenever you have a question. If there's a topic you don't understand you're going to have a much harder time when revising than necessary. Your teachers are experts and they're right there to help you! Sometimes when I didn't understand a topic in Biology I'd write up a bunch of questions and the next day spend my free block with my teacher to make sure I really understood what he was explaining.

Try to do some research as well for each specific subject. There are so many resources online that can help you, and loads are already on this site!

http://thenardvark.blogspot.com/2012/03/some-of-my-students-got-heaven-of.html - Great for English

http://click4biology.info/ , http://www.ibguides.com/, and http://i-biology.net/ - Biology

For math, I'd suggest looking at Khan Academy videos on Youtube. If you don't get something you can go and ask your teacher.

These are overall tips for revising:
http://university.which.co.uk/advice/revision-exams-making-the-grade


On one last note, I'd really suggest you rewrite some of your notes over the summer too! Especially for Bio.

Good luck! You still have one more year, so there's time for you improve your grades :)

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Universities won't be as interested if those scores are your predicted grades, but if you can up them so they're closer to your target scores you'll be fine, those target grades would be commendable if achieved. Let me just tell you now that you're DEFINITELY not stuck. I faced something similar, but I worked hard and was actually able to bounce back, by working very hard on the IAs and then studying and practicing very hard for the real exams. Here are some personal examples to show you it is definitely possible:

- HL History, in my Junior Year mock I got a 4/5. I think I was just under the border. As I enjoyed history and wanted to study law at uni (relevant) I decided this wouldn't do and upped it by studying exam technique, doing practice essays, and remembering lots of the information. After the next set of mocks 6 months later (a couple months into last year) I was able to use all my new skill and knowledge and I knew exactly what was required of me to gain the marks (knowing what the examiner is looking for is vital) and I achieved a 7 and was predicted a 7, this is something I then worked hard to maintain, alongside the strongest IA score in my class.

- Maths used to be a massive struggle for me, I hated it and feared it, and it seemed no matter how hard I tried there would be a third of the paper I just had no idea how to approach, and after 90 minutes I was unfinished and I would be grateful if I scraped a 6, and was often slightly below. My method to deal with this was twofold: firstly, I bought a revision guide, read through it, and made condensed personal notes almost as a guide to the entire syllabus. Secondly, I did every single past paper I could get my hands on, November and May from about 07-12. My scores started to rise as I learnt from my mistakes via the markschemes, and I became use to the question types, and the last 5/6 or so past papers I did before the exam I was getting 80-85/90 and time wasn't an issue, and fortunately this was the same in the exam - I finished in 60 minutes feeling like I didn't drop a single mark, though maybe I dropped a couple from silly mistakes but the point is I went from struggling with content and time to struggling with nothing.

- Japanese, in my first mocks I got a high 4 in Japanese. My oral score was 6/10 + 8/20, my reading paper was 50%, my written assignment was 50%. (Only my paper 2 was just about a 6) this meant I was predicted a 5 and though my scores increased to a high 5 with all the effort I put in before the next mock, this wasn't enough to raise my prediction. However, the real orals and things were obviously after uni applications (so predictions were now irrelevant) and I upped my oral score to 10/10 + 17/20, my Written assignment now from 12/25 to over 20 (i don't know what it is EXACTLY) and I walked out of the exams feeling they'd gone better than any others, and am expecting a high 6 (but not a 7 unless they lower the boundaries :P )

Just to show you it IS possible, as long as you put the effort into as strong as possible IAs, learning and memorising all the material, practicing exams (use markschemes/get a teacher to mark them! LEARN from the mistakes don't just think 'oh that was wrong') and make sure you know what the examiner is looking for and know the criteria (where appropriate)

Best of luck!

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Thank you

My teachers said these grades wont affect our predicted. This is because they told us that they knew the examinations they gave us were hard.

My predicted grades are:

Math - 5

Biology - 5

Spanish - 4

CS - 6

Econ. - 6

English -5

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To be fair, it's all good and dandy saying you're studying as hard as you can to do well, but without taking the time to see where you're going wrong, you could work 30 hours a day and it wouldn't make a difference. Working hard is useless if you're consistently doing the wrong things, which seems to be the problem here.

Before saying what you can do to improve it, what exactly do you do for all your subjects when you study? 'background reading' for economics could range from reading an article a week to analysing it, making comments and presenting it to your teacher. A bit more detail would be helpful.

And sleep more. Losing sleep is counterproductive.

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And sleep more. Losing sleep is counterproductive.

That is the best advice I could give anyone. Usually, when people are struggling, they tend to try to stay up later to study more. Not only is that ineffective, they are also exhausted the next day, which could lead to trouble focusing. Just say no to all-nighters.

I was stuck for a while, but I found that switching up techniques helped. I would take really good notes and research, but none of it would click. I found using notecards as study tools to work amazingly well. Just find something that works for you and is different to what you've been doing usually. Youtube videos are great for difficult subjects, too (Y)

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