IB Experiences

How to Deal with Stress in IB: 4 Students’ Tips

Four current students give their tips on managing stress while doing the IBDP. Learning from others experiencing the same conditions is one of the best manners to cope with IB stress!

Jessica, Canada, IB Year 2

Seeing all those exams coming up or even just completing IAs can be stressful. Here are some tips that help me effectively study and manage my time:

1. Organize your study space

Having a designated study area improves your concentration. There are fewer distractions around. On top of that, you will associate that area with studying, which also helps you enter the right mindset. Organizing your space organizes your thoughts and prevents you from misplacing items. If you put a notebook in the same location after using it, it can be easily found. Cleaning may not be fun, but it will benefit study sessions.

2. Make a schedule

A schedule helps ensure that you complete your assignments. You might want to study one subject each day of the week or review a little bit of everything each day. Personally, I start with planning when to study each subject, then refine the details on the spot. Every student has different preferences over their study time-tables; however, remember that following a schedule consistently is as important as preparing one!

3. Just start!

It is overwhelming seeing all the material you need to review. However, if you push yourself to just get started, all it takes is a spark to ignite the flame. A simple way to do this is to break down a task into smaller pieces. For example: instead of saying “I will study biology,” say “I will review the carbon cycle.” This will motivate you to begin working!

4. Take regular breaks

One of the most important things during a study session is to take breaks. You may be a studying machine, but machines cannot work forever. Maybe do some CAS or step outside the IB realm all together, relaxing with a TV show. Sometimes, all it takes is a 5-minute break to refresh your brain.

These study tips are likely to motivate you through the IB program. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just say to yourself: “I got this!”

Ghazlia Mehdi, Canada , IB Year 1 

Let’s have an honest conversation about the relation between your mental health and life as an IB student . 

  1. Balance

As an IB student the word “Balance” has been long echoed and heard an infinite number of times by your ears. IB is a balanced journey which requires the balance between your academic and social life. Remember IB’s goal is to “create” students who can have parallel success in both, academics and in society. Good news: get done with your CAS!!! Even CAS is a balance so why not take advantage of precisely what IB is giving you to help you succeed and then SUCCEED ! 

  1. Cramming

Have you ever stayed up till dawn finishing up your IA on “The growth rate of sinus virus bacteria under the cold temperature of the Arctic?”? I have and if you are someone like me, you should probably consider this point. If you have a mindset of being able to succeed by cramming material a night before where you will be covering “Wave phenomena”, don’t do it. I am not suggesting that cramming is inessential, every IB student has their fair share of cramming. However, stuffing material into your brain with the goal of scoring well on a test will not only deteriorate your brain’s health as a result of unsustainable loads of information but it will simply reduce your capability to deal with stressful situations. 

  1. Swallowing vs Chewing

One of the takeaways from this article for you should be the weightage of swallowing being much heavier and productive than simply chewing on the material. When we go back to review a note set, the first thing we do is STRESS. Stress over not being able to know everything, stress over not being ready for the exams. But take a note, one thing I want you to take away from this article is the technique of chewing on the material you learn rather than swallowing the material for the sake of getting it right on the test because swallowing the material will not have a good impact on your brain. 

Mental health, to begin with, is a quite specular yet daunting topic to discuss or even write about. As being an IB student, I might have been going through a lot of academic stress or stress in general when I was writing this article, or even you, when reading my article you might have your own difficulties which you have to sort out which is why you are reading this article in the first place. It comes down to your skills as an IB student, on how you will manage your mental health along with IB, however, we will always be there to guide you when needed!

Devin, Taiwan, IB Year 1

IB can be overwhelming sometimes,  here are some tips to help you get you through the tough times when studying IB:

  1.  Acknowledge the rigor of IB 
  • IB is known for its rigorous courses. During the middle of the first semester, I realized I was falling behind on school work and that caused me to panic, after talking to some seniors, this is what they told me: For most people choosing to pursue IB diploma or even just taking an IB course takes courage. Deciding to take on the challenge and face it directly is already a noteworthy accomplishment! 
  1.  Talk to your teacher
  • Effective communication with teachers is a vital aspect of our high school career. The main reason that teachers are there is to help us succeed, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them when you’re encountering any difficulties. It is totally normal that you would perform worse academically when you’re not familiar with your teacher’s grading style, so instead of stressing about the undesirable test score and how it might affect your future, try to talk to your teacher and see how you can improve next time.
  1.  Prioritize mental health
  • Although a majority of people say that mental health is important, very few actually pay attention to their mental health.  
  • Mental health contributes to our overall health; excellent academic records wouldn’t mean a thing if it’s harming you in any way. Remember, there will always be more opportunities to get good grades, but you will only have one body and one mind. Talk to a friend, watch your favorite TV shows, exercise, just do something that will take your mind off of academics.
  • Additionally, good mental health positively correlates with better academic performance.

While these tips may help you destress yourself, the most important factor in helping you succeed in IB is self-motivation! Use affirmations, talk to other IB students around the world (through communities like IBlieve!) and motivate yourself to power through! You can do this!

Doménica Vizcaino A., Ecuador, IB Year 1

As an IB student, I know how hard it is to balance your school responsibilities with other obligations you might have, and still be able to have some time for yourself. These tips will help with your time management and how efficiently you work in order to have a suitable lifestyle and enjoy your last high school years. 

1. Balance your lifestyle

Your lifestyle is as important as your education. While having a good education is essential, it is important to have a suitable life-style in order to maintain your overall health and wellbeing. Learn what makes you happy and make time for it. This can be joining a team, playing sports , learning a language, playing an instrument, spending time with your family and friends. Each person is different, so feel free to explore. 

2. Organization will save you

In order to balance your life and accomplish your tasks, you should have a method to organize. This can be  using an app or creating a schedule; find what works best for you. I find the app Study Bunny to be helpful; it helps you realize the time you are spending in a fun way. Sometimes, we tend to start working without noticing the time we spend in an activity, often taking 30min in something that should have lasted 15min. Study Bunny is an app to control time, you can choose the amount of time you work and rest, similar to the Pomodoro Technique. The more time you work, the more coins you collect to buy your bunny clothing, food, settings and toys. 

3. Failure won’t make you miserable 

As in everything, failure is inevitable, so don’t stress out whenever you don’t get the expected results of something that doesn’t go the way you desired, there are always other options. A single decision or result won’t change your life, although many are important, you can always do better, so don’t beat yourself up. And remember: school is only one aspect of your life.

Hopefully, you can apply these tips in your daily routine, stay organized, be aware of your mental health and try your best. Even if your results aren’t going as expected, you will never regret working hard, consistency always pays off!


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