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Help! I'm completelly losing myself in the IB

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Hey IB students and teachers!  ^_^

 

I am a student from Portugal and completely new to this website. I have come in search for help! I had a pretty easy life throughout school here in Portugal (PYP and MYP were basic!) and suddenly the IB comes, and hits me as hard as a tsunami....

My choices were and are:

  • Biology HL
  • Chemistry HL
  • Psychology HL
  • English Lang and Lit
  • Spanish Ab initio
  • Maths Standard

I am losing myself in these choices. I mean my languages are fine, should get a 6 or a 7 for both, but the rest is too hard. I'm losing track already. Mid term 1, I currently have a 2 for Chem, 3 for Biology and a 2 for Psychology, and a 3 for Maths. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. I believe I have studied enough but when it comes to the test I just feel like I forget everything, all the time!!! I really don't know how I'm supposed to survive the IB if I can't even survive term 1. I could really use all the help possible right now! I have no idea what I'm doing and I desperately need to make 38 points to go to Forensic Science at UCL! Please people! Any advice or suggestions would be amazing! I also answer PM's if anyone prefers to talk to me through there. I hope no one is running into as much trouble as I am! 

 

 

 

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Calm down. Just take a deep breath and come down. 

 

OK, now that we have that covered, check all the bad grades you got and see why that was. Most of the time, it is the structure of the answer that is wrong. Talk to your teachers about it, make them explain it to you. Regarding math, practice more. My problem was that the questions in the book were  much easier than the past paper questions used for tests. 

 

Good luck

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Bio + Che support each other. I would keep them HL. If you want to go for Medicine, keep CHE. I got 6 in CHE last mid term.

Psy, this subject require a good understanding. You need to be able to make sense out of the concept and memorize studies. I found it's more like ''common sense'' and quite easy. I got 7 last mid term.

Math require A LOT of practise. If you're only doing problems from a textbook, it's not enough. You need to understand how the method work and applied the skill to your problem. Do pass exam papers, they help you A LOT. DO NOT hesitate to ask your teacher until you understand 120% of how to solve a problem.(even the most easiest thing like 2+2, just don't hesitate to ask)! I'm taking HL Math and I got 5/7 last mid term. 

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Mark all hard questions down (especially the ones that you couldn't do in your tests) and try to do them over and over again until you truly remember all the steps of how to solve the questions (maybe do the questions over again once every month or 2 months). This will make you more familiar with these IB problems and help you avoid the same mistakes in the future. Other than that, OldFashioned has said it all :)

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You can also try comparing your exam to your friends exam. Ask them to explain the concepts that you didn't understand - this will help you and will also help them cement their knowledge. Write down really clearly the steps you need to take to get the right answer. Use these steps and do a whole heap of practice questions. Before next term, ideally you want to be confident in all your subjects, so also approach your teacher and ask them to provide you with extra practice questions to help you become more confident in answering particular types of questions.

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Honestly I FELT THE EXACT SAME WHEN I STARTED THIS SEPTEMBER!! Like I would study til my head rolled off and even then, I could barely muster a 3 or 4....................turns out, common sense, flashcards (i.e. paper or quizlet) and constant revision is the KEY!

 

word of advice: start studying for the test 2 weeks before.........

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I'm in chem SL and bio HL and I can tell you that written response is weighed really heavily for IB. They are really picky on how you structure it. Always look at how much the question is worth because that'll give you a vague idea of what the person marking your test wants. Make sure you know your command terms inside out. Questions that tell you to explain something are usually worth the most and my advice is to provide definitions for certain terms if you can. Sometimes, defining relevant terms make up part of your mark. Make sure you're directly answering the questions and not just restating it. It's always a shock for people who first entered IB. For me, entering chem SL was a bit of a shock to the system. You'll get used to it and you're in IB1. You have a lot of time to bring your marks up. 


here is a list of command terms: 

 

http://www.binghamton.edu/gse/teacher-education/pre-service/edtpa/command-terms-IB.pdf

Edited by ShootingStar16

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Psychology is a subject that you should be able to confidently achieve 6s and 7s in once you get into a routine of learning the info on a consistent basis. It involves some degree of thought to understand studies at first but other than that, it all comes down to how well you can manage all the stuff you need to memorise.

 

My tip is to write summaries for each of the outcomes (SLOA, CLOA, BLOA). These should be in bullet points and don't put any superfluous info that you know you won't use in your essays. The biggest help is to write these summaries like a children's book- colourful and easy to read, with no full sentences. Obviously longer and more comprehensive summaries for the LAQs, and shorter for the SAQs. I do write these on my laptop (which is not ideal since you don't remember as much) just because of the sheer amount of info that you have to memorise, organised in a two column table format (like Cornell notes). 

 

Revise these summaries once a week, or two outcomes a day - whichever way you think you will be able to stick to. Making a habit of this is key- and once you do, come exam time you'll just be able to produce psych info like a machine. 

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I'll go by subject:

 

Bio HL: Learn the content. Understand the content. Make sure you can explain (at first orally to a friend or something) exactly what, how and why for everything. For example, in Cells, you should be able to explain what the structure is, what it does, the role of the structure in e.g. keeping the cell alive and how it does this, using correct terms the whole time. Also, learn the diagrams that you'll need to know. My girlfriend does this for Bio HL and she's on a very solid 7. 

 

Chem HL: This is a tricky subject because very exact words are needed to get the marks needed. For example, in describing emission spectra saying 'electrons are arranged in layers around the nucleus' will get you absolutely nothing while saying 'electrons are arranged in orbits around the nucleus' would get you all the marks possible, even though they both more or less convey the same message. To that end, make sure you understand everything and how they affect each other; e.g. understand why the increasing atomic radius down a period affects ionisation energy and electronegativity and so on.  Make sure you can articulate this information correctly and in a timely manner in exam situations, Get a question bank, and time yourself for individual questions to make sure you can handle it. I started doing this about a month back and I've gone from 5s to high 6s and hopefully a 7 soon.

 

Psych HL: For SAQs and ERQs go by outcome. Rather than actually making lists, first write down arguments. I'll give an example; "To what extent does genetic inheritance influence behaviour?" For this, first write down, e.g. Genetics has a massive influence but this can vary with specific behaviours and the extent of these behaviours' prevalence and scope can be affected by the environment. From there, choose specific studies that you can use, and in a separate list, write down what idea they support. E.g. the Minnesota Twin Study can support the idea that genetics has a primary role in determining intelligence, even if the environment can affect this behaviour. Finally, note down the important definitions you need in your answer on the first list: e.g. you need to know the definitions of genetics, environment, intelligence, heritability, concordance rate for the genetics outcome. Finally, make a list for an ideal order of each for each answer. For this example, it could be

1. Genetics definition

2. Inteliigence definition

3. study 1

4. heritability definition

5. study 2 

6. study 3

7. conclusion

 

And go over this again and again. I do this and am at a 7 in the subject.

 

Math (any level): Make sure you understand the concept, and the exact scope of what the IB can ask. For example, in binomial theorem, they could ask you to expand, to contract, to find the nth term in the expansion, or to find the coefficient of a or b.Next, get a hold of a question bank and practice. But don't just practice blindly; time each question to make yourself do it faster. Also save difficult questions and go over them a few times later on. At first, give yourself one minute per mark. As you get a hang of the concept and improve, however, start shortening the time you give yourself, until you reach 40 seconds a mark (though this should be some ways down the road). 

 

Don't actually take my examples seriously though, I don't actually think they're complete and (in the case of the psych example) correct :P 

Feel free to PM me if you want further help in anything :) 

Good luck!

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At first, give yourself one minute per mark. As you get a hang of the concept and improve, however, start shortening the time you give yourself, until you reach 40 seconds a mark (though this should be some ways down the road).

 

Wow, you must be really strict on yourself. 40 seconds/mark is an extremely fast speed. I mean the IB exam is usually constructed in the way that gives students 1 minute/mark.

 

Well idk, maybe it’s good since you’ll have lots of time to do a double-check :)

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At first, give yourself one minute per mark. As you get a hang of the concept and improve, however, start shortening the time you give yourself, until you reach 40 seconds a mark (though this should be some ways down the road).

 

Wow, you must be really strict on yourself. 40 seconds/mark is an extremely fast speed. I mean the IB exam is usually constructed in the way that gives students 1 minute/mark.

 

Well idk, maybe it’s good since you’ll have lots of time to do a double-check :)

 

Well not really :P I implement different speeds for different topics and so far I only go at 40 seconds a mark for Mathematical Induction :P Everything else I do at about 50 seconds a mark. 

 

Well in theory it does give you time to recheck, but then I don't usually recheck thoroughly so it's worthless for me :P It's mostly just to improve my speed in tests cause I struggled with that at the start. 

 

When you were still doing the diploma how did you study for Math? 

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I find HL Chemistry devastatingly difficult as well although I have a high 5/low 6 in it. But that's because our class is set-up so that we have both SL and HL students, and the HL students will learn all the SL stuff first (with the SL students) and will learn all the HL stuff in the 3rd semester I think. So the first 2 semesters we learn all SL things with the SL students, and in the 3rd semester we learn all the HL things. So, even though I am in HL Chemistry, I'm only getting a 5/6 in SL Chemistry, as we haven't even learned the HL stuff yet! If I'm struggling so much in SL, I can only imagine what will happen when we get to the real HL stuff...

 

For people taking HL Chemistry in Year 1 (or who took HL Chemistry), did you people also learn SL things first and then move on to HL? I don't know if the set-up (in my class) is right...

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Well not really :P I implement different speeds for different topics and so far I only go at 40 seconds a mark for Mathematical Induction :P Everything else I do at about 50 seconds a mark. 

 

Well in theory it does give you time to recheck, but then I don't usually recheck thoroughly so it's worthless for me :P It's mostly just to improve my speed in tests cause I struggled with that at the start. 

 

When you were still doing the diploma how did you study for Math? 

 

To be honest, time was my one of my biggest problems. I used to spend on average 1.5 min/mark, which was bad. However, as exams were coming closer, i tried to train myself with time and I greatly improved after that. In fact, my teacher even told me after exam that she even though that I might have had some mental problems because I spent more time to look at the clock rather than looking at the actual exams :P So it's really smart of you to take the 'time'-factor seriously :)

 

How did I study? Well, I often put lots of emphasis on my actual understanding. Therefore, I spent a huge amount of time (perhaps 75% of my learning time) to understand the concepts & then write them down into my study guides in the most concrete, general, & organized ways. I realized that this is a very good way of learning for me, because I often find the practice questions very easy as long as I completely understand the theoretical stuff in the book. So don't do your homework until you are comfortable with all the concepts. By doing this, you wouldn't have to complain very much about the homework, but you would rather think of homework as a piece of cake ;)

 

I also found that redoing hard problems is a really good method of learning, because it helped me memorize the mistakes that I made such that I could avoid them in the future. So write down all hard questions, and then redo them as much as you can until you fully master it!

 

I find HL Chemistry devastatingly difficult as well although I have a high 5/low 6 in it. But that's because our class is set-up so that we have both SL and HL students, and the HL students will learn all the SL stuff first (with the SL students) and will learn all the HL stuff in the 3rd semester I think. So the first 2 semesters we learn all SL things with the SL students, and in the 3rd semester we learn all the HL things. So, even though I am in HL Chemistry, I'm only getting a 5/6 in SL Chemistry, as we haven't even learned the HL stuff yet! If I'm struggling so much in SL, I can only imagine what will happen when we get to the real HL stuff...

 

For people taking HL Chemistry in Year 1 (or who took HL Chemistry), did you people also learn SL things first and then move on to HL? I don't know if the set-up (in my class) is right...

 

I guess that can vary from schools to schools. For instance, in my school, HL students do sit in the same class with the SL students. However, HL students always get an extra HL lesson every week to learn the HL materials. On the other hand, i've heard of schools (like yours) that only allow students to learn HL stuff in the second year. And I believe that this is a very very bad way of doing things. First of all, it's so unorganized that way. Secondly, learning like that is very difficult due to the discontinuity of the lessons. Maybe you could somehow talk to your IB-coordinator about it? after all, students are supposed to be able to influence their teaching-learning environments....

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@Vioh,

 

1- I'm aiming for a 7 in HL Chemistry, and by the looks of it that seems impossible atm. First problem is, we learn SL stuff Year 1, and HL stuff Year 2. Second problem is, I have a TERRIBLE teacher. Now, the teacher is a really nice and cool guy, but he just can't teach! Literally, I teach myself or the students in my class teach me the lesson. If I didn't have him, I'd be getting the same marks (as I teach myself or get taught by other students; not by him). My biggest worry is that I am struggling right now and we're only doing SL stuff. If I'm struggling a lot with SL stuff, I can't even imagine what'll happen to me in the HL stuff. I heard about this guy on YouTube who does videos for IB Chemistry (topic by topic): http://www.youtube.com/user/richthornley. I haven't checked out his videos, but I did see that he has videos on the entire old syllabus, and he's working on videos for the new syllabus. If you know him, would you recommend his videos? Because, I have no chance with this teacher...I have to step it up and teach myself if I want to survive this course, so I'm digging through the internet trying to find stuff. 

 

2- My main struggle in Chemistry is Paper 1, not Paper 2; which is weird because Paper 2 is generally much harder. The thing I hate about Paper 1 is that I can't use any calculators. Some people in my class can do all the calculations in their head or on paper, but I just can't do it! By the way, we're doing Stoichiometry right now, so that has a lot of calculations. 

 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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YES! I was in a similar position as you just a few months ago. I was just so overwhelmed with all the notes I had to memorise and concepts I had to understand.

:(

It's o.k. seriously, you have to believe in yourself (corny-factor alert, yes I know, I'm sorry)

I used the chem textbook by lana derry et al along with the oxford chemistry study guide and I went through that textbook over 6 times during these past 2 years.

Do those past papers!

I can't emphasise enough how much they help you, especially after completing them, you want to have that time to understand why you didn't get those marks and what the IB examiners are looking for. So keep a booklet of notes of questions that are tricky/common mistakes that you make.

(GREAT for chemistry hl)

As for Biology, section B is really just taking the time to write yourself detailed notes that satisfy the check points from the mark schemes as well as leaving time to memorise them.

 

Good luck!

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