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IB Students on IB

November, 2008
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Hannah, Dulwich College Beijing

Hannah DCB IB is very hard for me for a number of reasons. The amount of homework really takes a lot of time to complete well. Also, the new theories being introduced, such as TOK (Theory of Knowledge) and CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) are a big jump from IGCSE. I chose English, Geography and Biology as my Higher Level subjects, with Geography being my favorite subject so far in IB. For my Standard Level subjects I have been studying Mathematics, History and French.

  In my old school in Singapore I studied the IB Middle Years Program (IB MYP) program for a total of four years before changing to the International GCSE program. The IB MYP does help the transition to the IB Diploma Program (IB DP), but it still doesn’t prepare you for aspects such as TOK and CAS.

  IB has a huge workload and I am up late every night trying to finish homework, which isn’t very enjoyable. However, I do think that the IB prepares you well for university. It allows you to be responsive and a leader as well as giving you the opportunity to help others (especially with your Community Service hours). Also, the large workload means that your time management skills are enhanced and that the difficulties you face now will mean that you are ready for university.

  Even though I know that it will be worth it, there are many things I dislike about IB. The workload is so big and the teachers are very hard on us about getting everything done. We are also constantly badgered about being “well-rounded”, which just becomes very repetitive.

  IB overall is an amazing program but you must be prepared to work very hard! Another hint I would give to students starting IB is to stock up on chocolate – it helps with the late nights!

Shannon Murray, Beijing City International School

ShannonR I don’t think the IB courses are really hard, but time management becomes a big issue when you start the IB DP. It can be hard to coordinate CAS hours and your academic work but we are getting better at it.

  I chose English, Theatre Arts and Geography as my Higher Level Subjects and French, Mathematics and Biology as my Standard Levels. I haven’t found any major issues yet with the transition between the IGCSE and IB although IB is more difficult than the IGCSE.

  I think I am doing fine so far but I am sure that the work will increase and get a lot more intense as the year progresses, so my social activities will pretty much die when it comes to the final crunch of Exams and Internal Assessments.

  I think that the rigor of the IB prepares you for university very well because you are encouraged to manage your own workload and have to figure a lot of things out for yourself (depending on the assignment and on the teacher). In some subjects we receive more guidance than in others. However, I don’t think that the IB works for everyone and some people are not going to like it and are not going to do well. This is because some people may not be good at Sciences, but are made to take one. Or for example they want to take Art and Drama but have to choose one as the IB strives for well-balanced students. Also, because of how hard the program is, the teachers have become a lot stricter!

  For students just starting the IB I would advise you to not choose your subjects based on what a friend is doing – follow your passion! I can guarantee the IB will work out better for you that way.

Mee Jeong Yeon, Beijing BISS International School

MeeJeong The IB is not easy at all! There is a lot of homework and on top of this we have to work hard to get lots of CAS hours and other things done at the same time. For my Higher Level subjects I chose English and Business Management, and for my Standard Level subjects I am studying Economics, Design Technology, Korean and Mathematics. (For some students, they can take IB Certificates instead of the full diploma and this allows them to do less higher level subjects than is usually required).

  Before I started the IB Certificates I was doing the MYP at the same school, and I think the transition was pretty easy, with IB being the next step up! However, because I have to go to Korean Academy, I usually only start my homework at 10:30 or 11pm and therefore the workload reducing the amount of time I have to rest and sleep.

  I don’t really think that IB is preparing me for university better than any other program because Korean Universities do not actually know IB that well and they do not consider it an especially important program, this is why I thought it would be pointless to do the full IBDP. IB requires a lot of effort and so much time dedicated to school and assignments. As a Korean student who is planning to go to a Korean university, I really feel that it is too tough.

  All I can say to new students: Work Hard!

Xiaolei, Aarzu, Steffie, Beijing City International School

Xiaolei3 IB is not incredibly difficult yet, but there is a huge workload in all the different subjects.

Xiaolei: I chose HL Art, English and Geography. As my Standard Level selections I chose Mathematics (Studies), Chemistry and Chinese.

Aarzu: My Higher Level subjects are Biology, Economics and Geography while my SL subjects are English, Maths and Spanish.

Steffie: I chose History, English and Theatre Arts as my Higher Level subjects and Mathematics, Biology and Chinese as my Standard Level subjects.

We all took the MYP course before starting the IBDP. The transition between the two is pretty easy in general because the MYP shapes your mind for the way you are meant to think in the IBDP.

There is a huge amount of work and you need to be willing to sacrifice your weekends for Homework if you want to get the top grades – this can get annoying sometimes. The workload, for everybody I think, is a big problem. Also the fact that it’s a 2 year course makes the final exams very hard to study for!

IB Higher Level Courses are a good reflection of what to expect in University. So when the time comes to go to University and start your courses, I don’t think you’ll be as stressed.

For those students that are going to start the IBDP next year, our three pieces of advice would firstly: Don’t Procrastinate! Secondly, Enjoy Coffee – you’ll need to drink it a lot to stay awake. Thirdly, don’t choose a subject that your friend is choosing just because you want to be together, because it won’t help you at all. Do what you want to do after looking at your strengths and weaknesses.

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