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:
BUY A FUCKING CALENDAR
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:
USE A TIMER
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
- Directly look at the markscheme, copy the answer down, and smile thinking that they’ve understood it. OR:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?