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DP1-2: Summer transition tips and tricks

If you have just finished IB Diploma Year 1, congratulations on making it this far! Looking back at the progress being made, you may feel proud and excited about taking a rest. Indeed, relaxation is highly important to re-energise for the journey ahead. But the IB is a continuous process that may involve sacrificing long vacations. Fortunately, there are efficient ways to manage the heavy workload, some of which are listed below. 

Be conscious of what will happen in IB Year 2 (especially in the first semester)

To fully understand the stress involved in the first semester of IB Year 2, simply check the deadlines involved on ManageBac. It may seem overwhelming to observe the piles of draft and final IAs and EE, alongside examinations all squeezed into one term. You are definitely not alone in feeling this way. To streamline the workload, you can use Google Calendar in adding all your essay deadlines. Alternatively, apps such as My Study Life allow you to personalise your timetable and provide email notifications in reminding the deadlines in advance.

Forming suitable schedules and habits

With the summer seeming to last forever, one may forget the responsibilities waiting for them when it ends. They may be stuck in the ‘not now’ mentality. Procrastinating their tasks until the next academic year and eventually regretting this decision as deadlines approach.

One method to form suitable schedules is by integrating weekly and daily timetables within your daily routines. This provides opportunities for you to practise updating what will happen during the week. This means that with enough practise, these weekly and daily timetables can be adapted into the school timetable. Especially, during the academic year.

Another method is adopting healthy study habits. This can range from time management habits. Such as the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes focus followed by 5 minutes rest). And to revision strategies such as the Feynman technique. It is up to you to experiment with what works for you.

Write full drafts of your IAs and EE (if applicable)

The summer provides valuable breathing room to fulfill external components without having to pull all-nighters and panic at the last minute. With more time, you have more opportunities to redraft and refine your pieces before the deadline presses upon you.

If you do not know where to start, consider creating an outline with the relevant points and sections of your paper. Then, begin adding specific evidence and analysis that will support your argument, which will set the foundations upon which you can base your essay. You can use the marking criteria to guide you on how to further improve your work.

Depending on your writing style, there are different options on how to write your paper. On the one hand, you can spend 3-4 hours over a few days writing out most of the content (for example one section per day), and redrafting paragraphs when necessary. On the other hand, you can spread out your writing schedule, spending 30-minute sessions writing 1-2 paragraphs per day over a longer period during the summer. Regardless of the method, the key to success is having time to think and not burn out.

Be selective of your extracurriculars

With the deadlines and rigorous academic workload of IB Year 2 alongside the looming final exams, there are tough decisions to be made about extracurriculars. Putting too many things on one plate will leave you overstretched, mentally exhausted, and out of time to focus on your academics. At this stage of the diploma program, quality exceeds quantity.

To facilitate this, make a list of your current extracurriculars, and rank them on how important they are to you. From this, you should be able to realise which ones you need, and which ones you do not. Note that it is recommended that you update your CAS progress throughout the summer, so leave a few that you are truly passionate about.

Keep in touch with your academic content

Summer provides wide opportunities to reflect upon the progress made as well as what can be improved on for the rest of the journey ahead. This may include difficult academic topics and exam skills that you can start practising as soon as possible.

To facilitate your academic content revision, try creating a retrospective revision timetable. Start with a list of subjects and topics that are part of the program. From then, you can allocate a certain number of days dedicated to revising specific topics, repeating them over and over (incorporating past paper questions and revision prompts). By colour coding (red, yellow, green) each of your topics, you can identify where you are least comfortable, and consider whether you have improved your understanding of the content over time.

To complement this, an alternative method is to write out all the information that you can think of regarding your topic (without notes), before checking it against your notes. This will help you realise the knowledge gaps within that topic, enabling you to tailor your revision. Discussing the topic with friends and teachers can further deepen your knowledge of the content, by having someone there who can point out your mistakes.

With all these tips, one may no longer be in a position of complacency in planning for a successful Year 2. It is my hope that you will find these tips useful in your journeys. Good luck and have an enjoyable summer!

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