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IB Grad Interview: Preparedness

Stefanie Stan is an IB N22 graduate from Australia. She now attends the University of Queensland and is studying a Bachelor of Advanced Business (Honours). With possible majors in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and a PHD research pathway. She is also studying for a Diploma in Advanced Spanish at the University of Queensland.

In 2022, she was the Preparedness Student Director at QACI (Queensland Academy of Creative Industries), and pursued a wide variety of extracurricular activities. As well as extending her passion for languages by attending numerous University Language courses.

Stefanie’s subjects were English Language and Literature, Business Management and Music at HL; Spanish AB Initio, Maths AI and Design Technology at SL.

Hopefully this interview will provide students with insight into preparedness and study skills, as well as motivate students.

Is discipline or motivation more important?

I think both are definitely important during the IB. Discipline will help keep your study habits consistent and thus academic skills sharp and constantly improving (consistency is key). Whereas motivation will make sure you are WANTING to continue growing. And that you are genuinely interested and wanting to learn new things. Along with sharpen your study skills without you being forced to do it. Thus, without motivation – nothing will get done or it will get done in a not-so-enriching way. While without discipline, you may be falling into study habits that aren’t as beneficial to your academics as they could be.

What would you say is your favourite study tip?

My favourite study tip would be using active recall! Learning something once or twice isn’t enough. But if you continue to revise it and recall it with no aid, you are more likely to remember it in your exams and apply it to unknown/ complicated scenarios!

This can be different for each subject. For example, constantly practicing questions to remember the solution without examples. You could also revise things out loud by teaching it to a friend. Or actively recalling the content of a subject by writing it down. One of my favourite ways to do the latter was to write all the key terms and definitions down in Quizlet (unlimited online flashcards that don’t waste paper) and writing out the definition by hand via the flashcard method. There is an option on the website to click either “Learnt” or “Continue Learning” on each flashcard; and with the “continue learning” terms, they will keep coming back until you can click that you fully understand it!

Can you ever be ‘prepared’ enough, or did you still feel there was more to be done when exams came around?

You got me – sometimes you can try to do everything and study as many resources as humanly possible in the time you have. Yet you can still feel like there was more that could be done. That’s normal. So do as much as you can; list down everything you have found to study and everything you can think of and complete them all one by one to finish the list. However, after that and on the day of your exam – you just have to be confident in yourself and your knowledge. You should also have faith that you will do your best and that’s all you can do! Otherwise, your nerves can be the thing to psych you out – not your knowledge or inadequate efforts of preparation.

How did you prepare for post IB life, while still in IB? Eg, Uni Apps, Career Planning.

It’s difficult to prepare for the unknown, as that can come along when you least expect it and when the time is right… However, actively trying to figure out what you do and don’t like will help you narrow down what you would like to study at university! Personally, I found that my highest achieving subject that I would like to pursue further was business. And I found that out through studying it at QACI and choosing it as my EE subject. So, definitely try and research what you’re interested in. And see if you can find a career pathway that you are genuinely interested in! Then, make sure to prepare things for University in the weeks leading up to your first day. Because no one is going to help you do that (you have to do that yourself), i.e., familiarising yourself with assessments, your campus and what learning activities and resources you need. 

Other than that, make sure you still have hobbies and interests that excite you. Otherwise, find things that make you happy that are non-academic to help you live a balanced life. Including taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing.

What’s your favourite preparedness quote?

It has to be my all-time favourite quote: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Now, don’t take it quite literally, because I know that some things done out of spontaneity can be the greatest. However, the general message of this quote is emphasising the importance of learning to prepare and plan things. Otherwise you could’ve had a better outcome. Especially in terms of academic pursuits, it always helps to prepare yourself for greatness. So you know what you’re doing and what your course expects of you! However, take this quote with a grain of salt when it comes to the things you cannot simply prepare. Such as when a lightbulb moment happens to you and opens up a whole new pathway for you… after that, then plan!

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