I’m Claudia, an M21 graduate who did the IB in Sweden. During the course of my IB experience, I experienced a mixture of in-person and remote learning. Though the majority of my final year consisted of remote learning, only allowing for essential IA experiments and IOs to be performed in school. I will be attending the University of Edinburgh to study History and Politics. In this article, I talk about how I changed my mindset from self-doubt to accountability in preparations for the M21 exams!
It’s a Thursday afternoon on the 4th of February, I am sat in a classroom with my fellow chemistry classmates (in which we were only allowed in school to perform our IA experiments) awaiting the final news from the IBO revealing whether or not exams will take place in May. Conflicted thoughts are racing through my mind; on one hand, I am hoping for the exams to be cancelled simply because in my mind it seems almost impossible for the IBO to expect a good performance from students who have undergone remote learning. But on the other hand, something within me is yearning for confirmation that exams will be confirmed.
The manifestation of self-doubt
The news is out – a dual-route has been announced meaning that it is almost certain that my school will be hosting exams. The teachers had already warned me about this but I was so confident that the IBO would make a confirmed decision for all. My mind is racing thinking about whether I will make the grades of my conditional offer and how I will be able to revise two years worth of content when I’ve missed so much already.
This was me a few months ago, my mindset consisted of a mixture of self-doubt, confusion, and negativity. Today I can confirm that I completed my exams in May and was able to revise somewhat sufficiently before, which I was certainly not confident about a few months ago. At that time I had fastened in the mindset of blaming everyone but myself for my current circumstances. Though I was facing some tough situations surrounding my IB studies, a shift in mindset was necessary to ensure the best possible performance during exams. If anyone reading this is in a similar situation, definitely continue reading to get an insight into an experience of change that is possible for just about anyone.
New beginnings and negative signs
The revision period before mock exams was the peak of my academic struggles. I was lost with no outlined plan to achieve my goals. One day I was on TikTok casually scrolling down my “For You Page”. I stumbled across a TikToker, “Medical Kat”. She is a medical student who does daily 9-hour study live streams. Her ability to hold herself accountable for her studies intrigued me. She balanced that with keeping a positive mindset towards learning and revising. I quickly became a religious member of her study-live community! It enabled me to study rigorously without distractions and feel accomplished. I began to prioritise smaller goals instead of huge ones, making them more realistic to achieve. Kat’s regular breaks ensured that I made time for other activities unrelated to IB work.
Despite this, with great things come many challenges. Following this strict 9-hour study schedule started to take a toll on my mental health. The constant pressure of having to perform for a long period of time and simultaneously watching others that seemed to be able to do it effortlessly was exhausting. I experienced all sorts of strange symptoms relating to anxiety, including prolonged diarrhoea, severe stomach aches and mood swings. I tried changing diets, exercising more, etc… But the clear issue seemed to be the new study schedule that I had adopted into my lifestyle. The truth is, I personally could not keep up. The study-live sessions had helped me overcome self-doubt and fostering accountability. However, I still lacked a study method that worked for me.
The importance of accountability
I flourished as an IB student after an important realisation.: Accountability also required some form of soul-searching. This can be translated into the most effective personal study method for each individual. Hence, I decided to study for roughly 4.5 hours a day and create a timetable with daily tasks instead. In other words, I still followed Kat’s study-lives but rather picked the times in which I would start and end. I had to accept the fact that accountability stems from personal growth and determination. Most importantly, I required a personal awareness of what I could and could not complete on a daily basis.
After that moment my revision period came to me as somewhat of a breeze. I even realised specific forms of preparation each of my IB subjects required. For instance, in Chemistry it was past papers and video explanations. Whereas for Swedish B I took it upon myself to focus on reading and writing and read Michelle Obama’s lengthy “Becoming” in Swedish. Funnily enough, a word that I had looked up whilst reading appeared in my Paper 2 exam.
Through sharing my intense experience of revising for my exams, the principal message that I wish to point out is – your mindset is so powerful in channelling your ability to perform. Seeing the positive is crucial in order to motivate yourself to stay determined. But most importantly, accountability is not only about responsibility but also self-awareness through experimenting with different means of studying and finding the best measure for you. I hope this reflection helps all students going through a self-doubt phase! Find what makes you accountable and you will be the best version of yourself!