Revision Tips

How to Self-Study in the IBDP

Self-studying is a crucial skill for success in IB. There are times when class lectures are just not enough to wrap our heads around a particular topic. I sure have had a ton of instances like that. Our teachers are very busy people, as brilliant as they may be, sometimes they don’t have the time or energy to tend to our every single academic need – this is where you have to take it into your own hands. Crack your knuckles, stretch those arms, cue the music, and get into that learning mentality (or, if you’re me, the IB survival mode) because here are four different ways to self-study.

Revisit Prior Knowledge

Before heading into the different ways you can self-study, it’s crucial to identify what you do and don’t know to efficiently study. Check your class syllabus and single out the topics that you don’t understand. Revisit your notes and make a list of the concepts that still seem foreign. For the topics that you do understand, they are still important to revisit but are less of a priority. Sometimes just seeing those words on a page can help you remember them, but if not, you can proceed and utilize the following tips!


Admit it, this is where a lot of us go first. After a quick Google search about the topic, we find ourselves scouring the deepest ends of the internet for videos that would teach us a thing or two about that one thing we should’ve taken note of in class. Luckily for us, whether it be a lesson on quadratic equations or an analysis on Shakespeare, the internet has it all. Keep in mind, you do need to be strategic when conducting research on the internet, as Google will provide you with an infinite amount of resources that might not be helpful at all. I recommend that you focus on key phrases and include as much detail your search— this will make it easier to find valuable resources. Also, try searching on websites that you’ve found reliable before, so there will be no need to research as much. The next time you require a quick fix of knowledge, go to your best friend Google for help. It’ll provide you with a YouTube video or two and a handful of websites, and those can come in handy. For more tips on how to effectively utilize search engines, check out Victor’s Tips for Researching!

Pamoja and Khan Academy

If a regular Google search doesn’t cut it, academic sites like Pamoja and Khan Academy can prove very helpful. With a catalogue of lessons and videos designed for the subjects covered in IB, Pamoja and Khan Academy are valuable ways of gaining knowledge on your own. Pamoja caters to the IB program more directly than Khan Academy, although it requires users to pay for a membership. Khan Academy is a free program that provides general lessons for several subjects. Personally, for me and my friends, Khan Academy is our go-to. In need of a lecture on Biology or free-market Economy, Khan Academy has got you covered. 

Class resources and Textbooks

Teachers often recommend websites to check out on Google Classroom or even post their presentations and class recordings. It never hurts to review these resources. Or, if you’re sick of digital resources, you can always do it the old fashion way—your textbook. More likely than not, a textbook will contain the topics discussed in the classroom. The best part is that whatever happens, you can go over it repeatedly until the information engraves itself in your skull. So don’t forget to give your textbook a visit once in a while. 

Phone a Friend

When in doubt, your classmates will always be there to lend you notes or sometimes even give you a crash course (speaking of crash courses, “Crash Course” by John and Hank Green is one of my go-to’s for online lessons). I find it easier to absorb notes from my friends than my teachers because it’s often more straightforward and simplified enough for easier consumption (just be wary of its ups and downs). While a friend’s notes and knowledge on the topic can be more accessible, they could also be missing important details explained by your teacher. It’s also easier to distract yourself when talking to a friend compared to skimming through a textbook on your own. But on the flip side, when a friend is helping you learn a particular topic, you are more likely to put effort into learning in consideration for that friend and the time they’re spending to help you out.

There are many ways you can survive IB on your own. With a bit of a push and some good ol’ determination, self-studying can take you to whole new levels of understanding.

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