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Filtering by Tag: improve


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.




Lie to yourself (The right way)

Arthur Zargaryan

We often lie to ourselves when it comes to working, but we do it in the wrong way:

“I will start working in 10 minutes”… 1 hour later “I will start working tomorrow”-everyone

We are delusional creatures and despite already knowing what’s going to happen, we still convince ourselves otherwise. Interestingly enough the things we might do instead of working aren’t even that interesting. The reason we do them, however, is that the initial effort required to initiate those activities is so low. Comparatively the initial effort and mental power required to start writing an essay is much higher than that of opening YouTube and just clicking through videos. Worst of all is that the satisfaction that we gain from completing that assignment (that we always put off) is much greater than that of watching 15 videos in a row (well, the satisfaction in the long term at least).

The issue at hand seems to be overcoming initial effort required to get us moving and working. So, how do we do this?

Well, we lie to ourselves.

Instead of looking at an assignment as a large block we should break it down mentally into its smaller components. Let’s take writing an essay; upon first glance we might think that the task of doing it breaks into the following sections: Planning, Writing, and Proofreading. But we can break it down into even smaller components. Planning could be broken down into the following sections: reading the assignment, brainstorming, creating thesis, structuring the contents of the essay. Looking at these small tasks they seem so easy and remedial that procrastinating over doing them just seems ridiculous…. Well let’s use that our advantage, Instead of telling ourselves:

“I will start working in 10 minutes”… 1 hour later “I will start working tomorrow”-everyone

We should tell ourselves:

“Let me just look over the assignment and think about it, once that’s done I can have a 20 minute break and then start working for real.” -you

What happens is magical, because the task is so small and it would literally take 2 minutes to accomplish you get to it without hesitating. As you have breached at this point the initial barrier, and have given yourself some working momentum you will find it easier to continue working. By the time you end up finishing the first task you will want to continue, or at least your guilt will nudge you to do so (and as the initial working barrier has been overcome you are more likely to continue the task).

It seems ridiculous that this would even work, but it does. We are such delusional creatures that lying to ourselves is so easy, there is a reason behind why it is said that “we are our own enemy”. So let’s shift the whole paradigm upside down and lie for a better cause.

Another lesson to be learned from this is that breaking things down can help, it can help a lot. Tasks which might seem impossible at first will become do-able. Taking this example even further, how do you think companies such as google arose? They took it a step at a time, they knew they could never be perfect from the first try, so they didn’t plan themselves to perfection. They had a bias for action, once they went over basic planning, they begun work, taking each step at a time. 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Laozi


-Arthur Zargaryan

7 Reasons Why You're Not Improving, and How to Fix That.

Arthur Zargaryan

1) You don’t want it badly enough.

You say that you want to get better grades and that you’re willing to sacrifice certain aspects of your life, but when it really starts to matter you don’t walk the talk. This is the most common reason: people spend hours reading motivational articles and watching videos, but their inability to ever take action, or rather to only sustain action for the short-term, leads them to keep repeating the same mistakes.

How to fix this: Try to keep some system of accountability, by either telling someone that you’re about to do something meaningful (and keeping them updated on your progress by sending them weekly emails), or another way would be to have a calendar filled with crosses when you achieve your goals for the day. This is surprisingly helpful, as you really don’t want to ‘break’ the crosses streak that is building up on your calendar.

2) You're surrounded by toxic people.

They say that you are the average of the five people that you hangout the most with. Either way, if you’re hanging around with potheads that keep claiming they ‘have the potential’ to do amazing but simply don’t try, then you’re doing it wrong. Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s the type of people you want to associate with. On the other hand, if you want to do well in school and are ambitious about your future, surround yourself with the right people. By this I don’t necessarily mean the smartest; I mean people that bring positive energy to your life, people that help you out in times of need, and people that themselves are amazingly motivated to do great things with their education.

How to fix this: All up to you. Don’t be afraid to completely disconnect with people that bring you down. Easier said than done.

3) You're being stubborn.

I realize that throughout all of middle school, studying at the back of the bus with your textbook open in one hand, a bag of Cheetos lazily scrawled over your lap, and one Apple earphone plugged in might have gotten the job done, but it won’t do for HL Math. I know that some of the advice you’re hearing is going to be crap, but if you don’t try new techniques or suggestions out, you’re never going to improve. Take it from me: I was horrifically repulsed by the idea of meditating. I mean, what the hell is meditation? Now in college, I can’t survive without it, and it’s done wonders to my memory that has benefitted me enormously in my studies.

How to fix this: Venture out of your comfort zone, try new study techniques, and consult people that you look highly up-to and ask for their advice. If you don’t try anything right now, you might regret it later.

4) You're scared to ask questions. 

This is a really important one. People love to protect their big old ego; they’re scared that if they ask a stupid question everyone will think they’re not so smart or that they’re inferior. It’s all about status, after all, isn’t it? Society has constantly drilled into us that our self-worth is based on how smart or good-looking we are relative to our peers. And it’s all complete bullshit. People that actively seek out feedback, who ask questions because they genuinely want to better themselves and not for the sake of looking smart, do much better in the long run than their counterparts. Be vulnerable; don’t be afraid to put your intelligence on the line. You’re here to learn, and the best way to do that is to question absolutely everything.

How to fix this: I already addressed this above but something else that I’d recommend is to read the book ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck; it’s an amazing read and it’ll change the way you look at progress, especially in terms of your academic life. 

5) You're comfortable. 

If you’re really serious about improving yourself, whether that is academically or in any other aspect of your life, you should always strive to seek new uncomfortable situations. This is because when you’re comfortable, you get stuck in a routine, that although may be getting you good grades and make you feel happy, is not ideal at all for bettering yourself. And trust me, there is no better feeling in the world than looking back and seeing how far you’ve come after genuinely having put yourself in new, vulnerable situations to learn something new.

How to fix this: Say yes to opportunities that are outside your comfort zone; aim to better yourself a little everyday by doing something that you’re not used to at all.

6) You don't actively try to change stuff you're unhappy with.

This literally applies to anything you do in life. If you’re not happy with the way things are going, find a solution. Don’t just sit there and hope that things will get better. If you don’t understand a term in your Physics Class, and you’re magically hoping that your teacher will omit it from that exam, you’re screwed. Be active about learning; as I’ve mentioned above, ask questions, try something new, and don’t be afraid to fail. Just don’t sit there and wait for things to get better, becausespoiler alert: they won’t.

How to fix this: mentioned above.

7) You're not taking care of yourself. 

You might be actively learning, trying out new things, pushing out of your comfort zone, asking tons of questions, but if you don’t get enough sleep, keep yourself happy, exercise, and maintain your social wellbeing, nothing will get better. You only get one body: take care of it! If you’re sleep deprived, nothing you learn will actually stick. This is especially true during exam season; it is absolutely vital that you keep yourself mentally refreshed! So many people just focus on studying 24/7, and that’s just plain stupid. To do well academically, it is imperative that you keep yourself healthy.

How to fix this: Exercise regularly, eat right, spend time with friends (before you start shouting at me that all of this can’t be done- yes, it can, I did it myself) and make sure to remember that at the end of the day your mental health comes first. Sure, you may be getting amazing grades, but at what cost?

And what if I told you that our eBook showed you exactly how to do well in the IB without sacrificing your life, your health, and your friends?