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Filtering by Tag: ib


Arthur Zargaryan


Exams are approaching. You don’t feel prepared. You want to feel prepared. You NEED to feel prepared. First of all, here’s some good news: you still have time to learn a shit ton of stuff. You have more than a month.

Here’s the first thing you need to do:


And I mean a real, physical calendar (none of that Google Calendars bs)! What you’re going to do is check off everyday till your exams. You’re going to visualize how close you’re getting, and how unprepared (or hopefully, prepared) you feel.

This is hopefully going to create a sense of urgency, and honestly, if it doesn’t, you deserve to fuck up your exams.

There I said it: if you don’t have the motivation or willpower to work your butt off this final month, then you deserve to do badly.

This is the final stretch, and the most important one.

You need to get in the mindset of a fucking warrior. You need to control your urge to get distracted. You need to hold yourself accountable. You need to study. Now, when you actually study, and listen up because this is important, you’re going to want to use a Timer. Here, I’ll repeat that:


I don’t really care if it’s a physical timer or one you have on the Internet, but just time yourself working.b And every time you feel like procrastinating, and then you subsequently give in, you’re going to also time how long you spent procrastinating. Record all of this in an excel spreadsheet. 

Btw I know this sounds like a shit load of steps but honestly it’s remarkably easy: just time yourself working and time yourself being distracted. What you’re going to see is that holy Jesus poop, you THOUGHT had sat down for 6 hours on your desk doing math, but only 2-2.5 of those hours were you actually working.

Hopefully this makes you feel like shit.

Just remember that there is someone out there that spent almost 5 hours working in that 6-hour period. And that person is going to kick your ass. 

Wait, what’s that? You’re calling that person a nerd? If being a nerd means going after what you want and working on it so hard that you’re going to get it, then please, I want to be a nerd!

Alright, so far you have a timer to actually see how long you’re working and you’ve bought a physical calendar to create a sense of urgency day by day.  Now, you need to realize that the IB can only be fought if you work smarter, and not harder. In fact, that’s the motto of our website. If you spend 5 hours simply reading the Math Textbook instead of actually writing out solutions, congratulations:


Here’s what you should do instead (or something like it whatever). Let’s say this is your first day of proper revision for Math:

Spend 1 hour identifying what you’re good at and what you’re bad at. Literally open up a Google Doc, make a table, and jot down your strengths + weaknesses for Math. Something like this: 

And remember: you want to be specific. Don’t just write down integration, examine what exactly it is that you don’t like or you’re not good at. Don’t worry, I just made this up really fast; your list should be much longer and should also be grouped according to broad topics.

You’re going to want to start working on your weaknesses, and here’s the best way to do it.

For Math, open up your textbook to the corresponding chapter (of your weakness) and just go through it. Write down everything in your notebook, do the examples, and then do most of the problems in the review section. Don’t do ALL of them (unless you want to). Maybe do all the odd-numbered ones or even-numbered, or simply the ones that look the hardest to you.

Now here’s the critical step:

After you’ve done textbook problems, it is absolutely critical that you open up your QuestionBanks or any past papers you have and tackle specific IB related questions to the topics you were having difficulty with. This is really important because there’s often a wide disparity between IB questions and Textbook questions. The textbook is great for solidifying your fundamentals and actually learning the material, but only by doing IB questions can you get better at solving IB problems.

Essentially, you want to do this form of studying for all your subjects. Keep remembering to time yourself and record that data. You want to see how productive you are.

Further, you can even notch it up a bit and record specific times when you work, and this will allow you to see at what time of the day you’re most productive.

What do you do when you don’t understand something?

This is arguably the most important part of this post. Please please listen up. I’m literally being 100% serious right now: this is the reason why most students mess up their exams and don’t study the right way. Are you ready?

When most students encounter a topic or concept or question they don’t understand, they either

  1. Directly look at the markscheme, copy the answer down, and smile thinking that they’ve understood it.  OR:
  2. Shrug it off, ‘look at the markscheme’, and move on.

Both those options will lead to failure and you’ll end up crying on your exams. Instead, you should do one of the following:

  1. Email or ask your teacher asap. Literally just send out an email to her/him and ask to explain why the answer is what it is. The next time you see them, ask them to give you a similar problem, and be ready to solve it.
  2. Skype with your friend(s). Learning through collaboration is awesome and I highly recommend it. Chances of a topic or concept sticking in your head are much stronger if a friend explains it to you simply because they’ll give you the real deal. Trust me, this really works.

Also, and most important, most people will just stop studying when they encounter a sticking point. Their brain isn’t tough enough to handle challenges so it’s much easier for them to just watch Youtube Videos and delay action.

Use your timer to your benefit. Is this happening to you? Do you tend to start procrastinating the moment you’re faced with a problem you don’t understand? In these situations, you have to realize that this is the critical moment: if you keep studying and grind it out for another few hours, you will understand the concept well and you would have spent time & energy getting prepared. If you decide to procrastinate, you’re letting yourself down. As simple as that.

Stuff you’re going to want to cut out (only for a month relax):


I know it sucks, but if you want to perform at optimal level, you’re going to want to stay away from some stuff. Don’t drink alcohol, smoke marijuana (this will do quite a bit of harm to memory retention), and do any other sort of drugs. I know it’s going to be tempting, but the morning after you’re going to feel like crap and not get anything done.

Instead, this upcoming month should include good exercise, lots of fruits, and lots of water. Water is amazing. You’re lucky to have it, so drink it. Drink lots of it. It will make you feel amazing.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. Something bad happen to you? How can you re-frame it in the most positive manner so that you learn from the situation instead of cry about it? Smile, study, and take care of yourself. This is the last stretch, and you’re almost there. The finish line will soon be in sight.

Will you train like a champion or give up at the most important time?

-Shikhar S.




IB English Lang & Lit Paper 2 LIFE SAVER

Arthur Zargaryan


Our Latest Deal


We sent this as an email to our mailing list, but due to popular demand, it’s up here now:

Here's what we want to do:

1) You send us the two literary texts that you've read in class, and we will create a 1000 Word Ultimate Guide for all the Important Quotes, Symbols, Themes, and elements of each text. Highly personalized: you can even tell us what you want us to focus on. 

for example: 

Say you've read Antigone and Brave New World. 

You will tell us that you want us to work on those two texts. You can even tell us what you want us to focus on. 

We will create a kick-ass 1500 word pdf guide on literally everything you need to know (information & content wise) for those texts to get a level 7. 

it will contain 10+ symbols analyzed, 20+ quotes, themes and ideas explained, and real IB prompts to practice with. 

2) It's going to be created with the help of an IB English Teacher and 3 students that all scored level 7s in their Paper 2. 

3) As a gift, we will also send you a 3000 word guide on maximizing your grade for Paper 1. 

We will do this for $100. 

And here's the crazy part:

I know $100 may be something you can't afford, so if that's the case, I want you to ask your friends to pitch in. 

You heard me. 

I don't care if you buy the guide, and then distribute it to all your friends. You guys can all split the cost, and as long as we get the amount we need, you guys are free to distribute the eBook between yourselves. 

If that's two of you, that's less than $50 each.

If that's four of you, that's less than $25 each.

We're only going to be making this offer to the first 100 people that sign up (because we can't possibly do this for everyone), so click on the button below. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help  

Best wishes,

The IB Survivors Team 

If you're trying to do everything, you're going to fail.

Arthur Zargaryan

I recently read an article that really inspired me and I wanted to share my thoughts on it, and why I think it’s so important.

Here’s the original article:

I think that something like this is really relevant to a lot of students because when you’re surrounded by high-achieving individuals that are of the same age, you feel compelled to do stuff.

And this is most of the time really good. You work hard, try new activities, and engage in healthy competition.

But I feel as if it can be really harmful too.

Just yesterday, I heard some girl almost ‘bragging’ about how little sleep she got the other night.

She was saying something like ‘I had 5 hours of band practice, then I had to attend my MUN meeting, then I had tutor for 2 hours, and then I had to do all my homework. Omg I slept at like 4:00 am, I work soooo hard!!!’

I mean, don’t get me wrong. Doing stuff is good. But there’s a limit you know?

I’m sure that girl, let’s call her Josie, is working really hard. And maybe she’s genuinely passionate about everything she does. But I think she’s doing it wrong.

If we try to do everything, if we try to make everyone happy, and if we try to say yes to everything, we’re missing out on some valuable time.

 We’re missing out on time and energy that should be spent on ourselves.

How often do you spend time on self-reflection?

How often do you analyze your strengths and weaknesses?

A common theme that I’ve noticed in so many successful people is the amount of time they spend taking care of themselves. This can be through meditation, running, reading, whatever; the point is that if you’re not setting aside time to work on yourself, you’re massively limiting your potential to grow.

In the IB, I think it’s the same way. You have to prioritize. You have to find a way to maximize your output & productivity but at the same time you can’t survive on 4 hours of sleep every night.

I know that when you’re taking the IB this all sounds very abstract and meaningless, but please do take some time to self-reflect.

In the long run, are you better off spending some time with your little sister who you’re not going to see next year or should you attend a club meeting just so that you can put it on your Resumé?

99% of people will carry on their lives keeping themselves busy and doing meaningless activities.

The 1% that succeed will be self-critical (and accountable), pursue activities that they are genuinely interested in, and aim to maximize happiness (and not wealth or status).

You have the potential to do anything in this world, if, and only if, you don’t try to do everything.

That will surely lead to unhappiness and regret. 


The quest for understanding: Making the most out of IB Physics

Arthur Zargaryan

My name is Robert, and I am a recent graduate (or survivor?) of the IB; I studied maths, physics and chemistry at HL (my SLs are irrelevant as far as I’m concerned). My enthusiasm and ability in these subjects means that I feel at least partially qualified to give my $0.02 on approaching them. However, if I’m honest, I do not fully understand what makes someone good at maths, and I don’t particularly care for chemistry, so I will instead focus on physics.

Many people go into a physics class with a passive mindset, highlighting key definitions, writing down formulae, remembering explanations. When you get down to doing exams, this translates into a ‘factory’ mindset. The question gives you certain quantities, you put them into a formula, and your calculator gives you an answer. If asked for a definition or a standard explanation, you give the one you rote-learned.

This approach may work for chemistry, and would probably be enough to score you a 6 for physics. But if you are shooting for those very high scores, this attitude may not suffice. I can almost guarantee that, in both the MCQ and the extended answers, there will be an unexpected question. A question for which you will have to think, and to do physics. How on earth are you meant to prepare for this?

The best piece of advice I can give you is to understand what you are doing. Understand the relationships between all the topics, make sure you know clearly in your head exactly what is going on. Never just learn the formula. Always ask yourself exactly what the formula is saying. Don’t just say F is the force, m is mass, and a is acceleration. Understand that F = ma is really reflecting the deeper principle of inertia. If you are currently taking physics, there are a few topics for which having a clear conception of the interrelationships is highly beneficial (e.g simple harmonic motion, fields, and thermodynamics).

Developing a strong physics intuition (or indeed, an intuition for any other subjects) will take you very far. I do not mean that you shouldn’t rote-learn things. This is often a valuable asset in order to ensure that you remember which keywords the IB likes, because even if you know in your head what’s going on, at the end of the day you still have to put it on paper. But I want for you to be able to walk into your exam with confidence, knowing that you actually understand the material and are ready for whatever they throw at you.

One last thing, for anyone who intends on studying physics at university, the things I’ve said are especially important. For my Cambridge interview, one of the first questions I was asked, regarded the meaning of F=ma. A simple question meant to differentiate those who learnt a formula from those who learnt physics. It would be a good exercise for you to try to derive every formula in the data booklet, which I found to be very rewarding. You also may find my blog,, interesting (bonus points if you know to whom the title alludes). 

Preventing and Managing Stress

Arthur Zargaryan

These are a few recommendations for how to prevent and manage stress. You can skip to the sections you want below.


These are some brief thoughts about how to manage stress throughout the IB exam period and in general. I welcome anyone and everyone to share the techniques they use to manage stress.

Firstly, if you want to effectively reduce the amount of stress you feel with your workload, managing your time properly will help cut down on the level of stress you feel when working. So read this and this. Then come back here. But the chances are you'll just continue reading this anyway so I'll pretend you haven't read them.

I'm not going to put any of these techniques in order because some people prefer different things. I should also mention that these techniques will only work if you actually use them. Don't just read them, ignore them, then come back after the exams and exclaim that your hair is turning grey because of stress.

It seems like when students think of studying they think of it as an extremely painful process which requires a lot of stress in order to be useful. 'You need to live in the library to get good results' 'studying is just student and dying put together' that sort of thing. None of that is true. You don't need to strain yourself while working in order to do well.

You learn much better when you're relaxed.



  • Meditation

This is a great way to relax. I'd link you to a bunch of scientific studies about it but it's much better for you to try it and experience its usefulness first hand.

How do you get started?

Sit down (or lie down if you have back problems), and spend 5 to 10 minutes just focusing on your breathing. Don't try to alter your breath patterns. You'll probably find that it's quite difficult to just focus on your breath because thoughts will pop into your head but that's normal. Just gently return your focus to your breath.

I'd recommend meditating at the start of the day then again at the end of the day if you want to.


  • Schedule time off

Don't cram your schedule with work and actually let yourself have a prolonged break. If you feel up to it, schedule a whole day off every week and do whatever you want absolutely guilt free. It'll help you approach the next week with a bit more energy and you won't be at a continuous battle with your work if you completely separate yourself from it for a while.


  • Have regular breaks

While trying to complete a huge task, it can be easy to lose track of where the time is going. Then you end up working for years without having a break. This can make you feel extremely frustrated when you're not making progress on something. However, you should wait until you feel like p

The point is to work with as little stress as possible. I'd recommend breaks as frequent as one every 25 to 30 minutes.


  • Plan your work

If you don't have any clear idea about what you're trying to accomplish then you'll always be fighting uphill. Take some time to make a detailed plan about what you want to do and when.

Also, assume you've underestimated the amount of time you'll need to complete something. If you've set aside 2 hours to think about an essay or make notes on a topic, give yourself 3 or 4. It'll stop you getting stressed about not being on schedule (that wasn't realistic in the first place) and give you spare time at the end of the day

This is also related to managing your time effectively. So read this and this.


  • Clean yourself

Ok, admittedly that sounds like a dumb statement to make. But I have a point. I promise.

There's very little point in being in an environment that either makes you feel like you're boiling or freezing or generally uncomfortable. So if your room feels stuffy, open your window a bit (and the curtains. Jheez I don't know why some people enjoy darkness so much. It makes no sense to me).

Groom yourself in the morning instead of groggily getting out of your bed in the morning and working away in pyjamas. Be comfortable but shower or something. If not for yourself, do it for everyone that'll come into your presence that day.


You'll hopefully feel a bit more energised before you start your day.


  • Manage expectations

It's important to manage the expectations you have of yourself and the expectations other people have of you.

We're often extremely self critical because we either just want the best for ourselves or there are visible pressures from other people. This isn't an admirable trait. Yes, we should try to find ways to improve our work but not at the expense of harmful negative talk and self-hatred. It isn't useful and won't help you progress at all.

If you don't complete all the tasks you wanted to complete that day, check if you've been too unrealistic, make the appropriate changes then forgive yourself. It won't change much in the long run especially if you've made changes which could improve how the next day goes.

If you find yourself talking to yourself negatively, ask yourself whether you'd talk to a close friend the same way. If you wouldn't, you're probably being too harsh. Trust me, you do not deserve the negative self-talk you might put yourself through.


  • Eat properly

Ah, food. Food is good. So eat something.

Don't stuff your face with crap all the time. Be reasonably healthy and save all the beautiful fried chicken for the weekend. Eating properly has a great effect on your energy levels.

Don't starve yourself either. Working on an empty rumbling stomach is like listening to a baby cry. They can both be stopped with some warm milk and cookies.

I don't think a new born would eat cookies though so you can have them for yourself. If anyone has a baby, you can let me know if they eat cookies. Or not. I don't mind. It's your baby after all.


  • Exercise

Exercise has been scientifically proven to be healthy. So you should do it. Preferably everyday if you can. It's a great way to release stress and make you feel good. You work much better if you're more healthy over all. You don't need a gym membership to ride a bike or go out running.


  • Have fun with friends

It might be odd to be reminded to talk to your friends but you should. You don't need to be in complete seclusion in order to be efficient. You can study alone but you don't need to be alone for the whole week.

And enjoy time with them without feeling guilty! If you always feel guilty, you won't enjoy the company or get any work done. You'll just be in a weird purgatory that doesn't let you do anything.


  • Summary

To prevent you from getting too bored, I'll end the techniques here. There are loads more but I hope others will contribute with what works for them.

Exam preparation doesn't need to be painful. Going into it with that mindset will make it much more likely to be a bad process. Try out some of the techniques and let other people know whether they worked for you.

Best of luck with your revision and I hope your hair doesn't turn grey.

This Article was originally posted on IB Survival, it has been re-posted on IB Survivors with the authors' permission. For more articles like this one check out his wordpress, or read more articles we have below.