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5 Mistakes Every IB Student Should Avoid

Everyone’s IB experience is different. However, there are definitely some ways in which YOU can make your IB experience a positive one. With that in mind, here are 5 mistakes that every IB student (and really any student) should avoid!

1. Always studying alone

Having someone who shares a similar working and learning style as you as a study partner makes an enormous difference to your IB experience. You can set up regular meetings or calls, bounce ideas off of each other, and push each other to improve. Most importantly, it makes IB a tad bit more enjoyable. It may be more effective to have a buddy for each of your subjects as opposed to having just one buddy who may not share the same subjects as you.

2. Procrastinating… unproductively

Unless you are among the 5% of students who can completely beat procrastination, chances are it’s the bane of your existence. I lose so much time blankly scrolling through timelines, eating when I’m not hungry, and even staring at walls to avoid tasks—this eventually leaves me unsatisfied. While I try to establish systems to avoid procrastinating altogether, I still at times succumb to its pull.

If you can relate, it helps to have a list of worthwhile things you want to accomplish when you find yourself dilly-dallying around. Categorise your tasks into “Must do”s, “Good to do”s, and “Will help me later on”s. Complete your “Must do”s first by breaking down a large task into more manageable steps and taking short breaks. Too bored to finish a “Good to do”? Work on a “Will help me later on” you find more stimulating. That said, I want to stress that it’s completely okay to not do anything at all sometimes. It’s easy to associate work with “productivity” and, consequently, think that time not spent working is time wasted. However, recognise that rest is an essential part of being productive—your mind and body have to properly recharge. ‘Down days’ are normal, and sometimes it’s best to watch that Netflix show when studies is the last thing on your mind.

Sample To Do list by Bryan Defjan

3. Expecting teachers and schools to give you every resource

We all have our share of “bad” teachers. While teachers and schools must meet certain expectations, holding them accountable for everything disregards your responsibility and only leads to disappointment. Be as proactive as you can when looking for resources by speaking to your seniors and researching online (YouTube, Reddit, IB help websites, etc.). You can even sign up at IBlieve for mentorship and tutoring from IB grads from around the world. Having agency over your learning will motivate you to succeed even more!

4. Jumping on the “woe is me” bandwagon

This is rather difficult when everyone around you is constantly proclaiming how much they hate the IB. However, reframing your mind to think of IB as a personal challenge and opportunity to grow will help you in the long run. For example, try changing your attitude towards a subject you dislike. Unfortunately or not, the IB exposes a lot of our bad habits (such as poor time management) that we’ve never had to fix before. Using IB as a chance to address these will make the program more beneficial to you! On the contrary, thinking of it as a burden will only have a negative snowball effect on your performance.

5. Sacrificing your mental and physical health

This is always, always Rule #1! Too many students (myself included) make the mistake of neglecting our health to complete tasks. In hindsight, I wish I had been able to better judge what my limits were. When your plate is full, don’t voluntarily add commitments! This doesn’t just mean saying no to some social or extracurricular opportunities, it also means realising that you don’t have to go above and beyond in every single academic assignment to the point that the stress breaks you—it’s counterproductive. Remember, your efforts supersede your results. Don’t forget to consciously designate time in your daily and weekly schedules to unwind. Being kind to yourself is essential to thriving in the IB.

Meme from Know your meme


  1. This was really well written and super helpful for a soon-to-be second year IB student as myself. I particularly agree with the point of having a to-do list as it has really helped me reduce procrastination. Thanks for this! 🙂

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