The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme – a Student’s Perspective
Written by Vania Cheryl Antono
Junior College 2, SIS Bona Vista
Education. One word, four syllables, and yet, it’s something important that everyone, wherever they come from, has a right to. Education is learning and gaining knowledge, about having an environment that encourages minds to develop and allows curiousity and compassion to grow. In Singapore Intercultural School Bona Vista, which provides education through the recommendable International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) for Junior College students, that is certainly true.
The IB programme consists of 3 core elements (CAS, TOK and EE) and 6 subject groups (Studies in Language & Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals & Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts). This programme itself is unlike any other curricula. The IB programme guides students to cultivate critical thinking and investigate on the source and reliability of any knowledge that they come across, through subjects like TOK (Theory of Knowledge). Another important component of the programme is the Extended Essay (EE), which refers to a research paper that all diploma students must do, involving research and investigation on issues or themes that interest individual students, as well as CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) which acts as a counterbalance to school studies.
Based on my experience as a JC2 student so far, there are a few things to help prepare you better for the IBDP exam. Firstly, time management is very crucial. It’s best to complete as many assignments as possible before reaching JC2, like doing the more effortful CAS experiences/projects and the research regarding one’s EE topic, so that the last year of IB programme would be more focused on exam preparation. The draft for EE and IAs (Internal Assessments) of all subjects should be ready and submitted as early as possible (best time would be within the first term of the second year).
Secondly, I’d suggest preparing over a long term instead of cramming everything before the actual exam. Writing notes in class, highlighting key phrases in textbooks or making flashcards (whatever study method you find effective, really) are useful in filtering important things to be remembered for the exam. Don’t wait until it’s just a few weeks from the exam to start making the notes you should have made since last year.
Moreover, although exam papers differ every year, it’s still good (and might even save your life!) to practice answering past paper questions from online IB websites (your teachers may give you recommendations), especially since it trains you to answer within the allotted time.
Lastly, remember that preparing for any exam would be both physically and mentally draining, so take a break every now and then because even studying would be useless when you’re tired, sick or just craving sleep (or food!). The best thing you can do on the night before exams is to review once more, pray and have enough rest. Your IB grades may seem like a life or death matter right now, but honestly, success in life isn’t determined by a grade on a piece of paper. Just do your best and believe in yourself.