3 Ways to Start Preparing for End-of-Year IB Exams

Filled optical form of an examination.
Filled optical form of an examination.

International Baccalaureate (or IB) courses are fairly similar to Advanced Placement (AP) classes in that both utilize an end-of-year exam and provide high school students with an opportunity to earn college credit.

Those high school students who are interested in IB can choose between taking individual IB courses or enrolling in the IB diploma programme. In addition to completing classes in six subject areas, diploma students must also take a Theory of Knowledge course, write a 4,000-word extended essay, participate in creativity, activity, and service hours, and finish their end-of-year exams.

But no matter your choice (individual IB classes vs. the IB diploma programme), every high school student is busy, so how can you start preparing for your one (or more) end-of-year IB exams?

Schedule your prep with your course path in mind
If you are an IB diploma student, you likely know that this path can be very time-consuming. You will thus need to plan your prep accordingly. For example, it is virtually impossible to complete your creativity, activity, and service (or CAS) hours while simultaneously writing a 4,000-word essay and studying for an end-of-year exam. This is especially true if you are also preparing for the ACT or the SAT, or applying to college.

So what can you do? You can complete your CAS hours earlier in the year. You can also set aside an hour each week to work on your current stage of the extended essay. This will, in turn, free you to review class content in the weeks before your exam.

Take practice tests from previous years
Practice tests are a great resource, and you can easily locate them by asking your teachers for previous exams, or by visiting the IB website. Practice tests can help you better understand the precise type of information that is assessed, how it is assessed, and how far you are from achieving your target score.

Determine which content is most likely to appear on the end-of-year exam
Like AP courses, IB classes contain a wealth of material. Everything you discuss in class, as well as everything you read in your textbook, has the potential to appear on your end-of-year IB exams. That, of course, is quite a bit to study, and you may be wondering, "How can I increase the efficacy of my review sessions?"

First, as you move through your courses, think about the main themes in any information that you are learning. Ask yourself, "What is important here? How does it connect to other course content?" If you are uncertain, consider asking your teacher about what is commonly tested.

Second, keep a separate notebook for your end-of-year exam prep, and record key testing information in this notebook (i.e. your answers to the above questions). This way, you can store day-to-day notes for your IB classes in one place, and your study materials in another. When it is time to begin studying for the end-of-year exam, you will have a streamlined version of your notes to guide your review.