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Filtering by Tag: tips

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 

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.

7 Tips to Get you Through The IB

Arthur Zargaryan

Most IB guides and bits of advice mention a lot of the obvious and generic stuff, so I tried to do the opposite. Below are some hopefully unconventional pointers that other websites may not have mentioned. Enjoy!

1) Not all revision is made equal:

It’s often happened that I have revised for 4 hours and completely bombed a test, yet other times after only 1.5 hours of revision I’ve aced an even more challenging assessment. The reason behind this incredible anomaly is that not all revision is made equal. Reading and taking notes isn’t enough: you must practice by solving relevant problems. To do so, the question bank and past papers are a gold mine, and your most useful tool.

There is a science behind using past papers and the question bank most effectively. Firstly, be sure to attempt the problems thoroughly; don’t give up only after a few minutes of trying. The harder you try the more you’ll learn and remember. You should also do problems in smaller chunks. Once you are done reading a chapter get a few relevant problems from the question bank and attempt them. Once you’ve attempted a set of problems mark yourself using the mark schemes provided by the IB. Remember, be harsh on yourself and analyze where you lost marks so that in the future it won’t happen again. It is imperative that you understand how IB Markschemes work and what exactly is it that is required of you.



2) Discipline trumps motivation:

Motivation is your ally, but when the dark times come, motivation will not be by your side. Your best friend should be discipline; it’s what keeps you working through the toughest times, when all your senses are telling you to give up and watch some YouTube videos. I love YouTube.

Doing subjects that genuinely interest you also helps with staying committed and exhibiting good work habits, so if you’re Pre-IB be sure that you are doing what you really want. If you haven’t read already,  click on the button below to take you to a highly useful article about building discipline.

3) Feedback, Feedback and Feedback:

The fastest way to move from a level 5 to a level 7 is to listen to feedback and implement it vigorously. I’ll probably have to write a whole article on this (when I do the link will be below) as there is so much to cover, but here are the fundamentals. 

Get feedback on your work from both your teachers and peers (hopefully someone who is better at the given subject than you) and be sure to use it. To get feedback from peers, it’s important that either you are close friends with them (basically you will be calling in a favor) or that you are better than your peer in a different subject and can offer them the same services there. Business is business.

Getting feedback from you teachers is even more important. There are different ways to get this done; firstly, you could show your teachers the work beforehand, and trust me they will be very likely to help (teachers enjoy having committed students who put effort into their work, makes them feel like what they’re doing is appreciated). I don’t suggest leaving your work with the teacher so that they only give written feedback; instead, you should set a meeting with them and go over you assignment together. This will make the process more dynamic and you will be able to truly understand what is wanted from you. Another interesting thing is that you don’t have to get feedback from your teacher, ask other teachers (ones that don’t teach you) for some help.

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4) You Are Not a Zombie:

Yeah this is a rather obvious one, but surprisingly many of you don’t do it. I’ve seen people who couldn’t function on a lack of sleep and a diet of coffee (they were really good students too) and it’s not pretty. Make sure that you are getting on average 8-9 hours of sleep. I know this sounds ridiculous but it’s so important for your health and cognitive abilities, so please do it. Below are some reasons why you should sleep the suggested amount:

  • Lack of sleep can reduce memory retention (if you don’t sleep enough you can forget what you studied the same day).
  • Lack of sleep can cause health issues (like tons and tons of issues that will only manifest themselves at the worst moments).
  • Lack of sleep can cause performance issues (during tests that is….) lol

It obvious that you won’t be able to sleep 9 hours every day, but be sure to sleep enough before tests and to catch up on missed sleep during the weekends. Maybe improving your time management could also help against those last minute all-nighters?!

BTW (another cool tip): When you sleep, try to do so in blocks of 1.5 hours (that’s how long the sleep cycle is). So it means that 7.5 hours of sleep is better than 8, as you will not wake up in the middle of a cycle feeling tired and grumpy.


5) Develop relations:

Developing a healthy relation with your teachers is very important. Firstly despite all that you have been told, teachers will treat and grade you differently based on their personal opinion of you (they can’t help it, they will always be influenced by their opinions… even if it’s slightly). Having better relations with your teachers could result in any of the following (hopefully all):

You can hand in you work late (Sometime…. If you’re usually respectful, do your work on time and do it well, your teachers will understand that there might be reasons behind your late submission)

You can get better grades in general (if teachers think that you put a lot of effort into your homework they are likely to mark you generously, as they believe you will show progress over time)

You will be able to get better predicted scores (same logic as that from above)

You will receive better feedback (if the teachers think you will listen to their advice and their work will not be wasted, then they are likely to invest more effort into giving you better feedback)

Teachers are humans too, and usually they are rather interesting people, getting to know them and joking around are an integral parts of all high school experience (btw….your mutual hate of the IB is a great point of conversation).


6) Stop Day-dreaming:

It’s time to snap back to reality and understand your true abilities. Don’t take this call to action as an invitation to give up and under estimate yourself, use it as an opportunity to understand your abilities and improve them. To be able to do well in the IB, you need to know what your working abilities, strengths and weakness are. The more information you have the better you will be able to organize yourself and perform well, take the examples below:

If you know you are level 5 student at Mathematics SL, yet you also know that you haven’t been studying much lately and that in general you are both productive and have a mathematically inclined mind. This information tells you that with relatively little effort you could score a 7 instead of a 5, hence you should start revising regularly (investing effort will give you a very visible outcome). However If you are a level 5 student without a particularly mathematical mind, you know that you will need to apply even more effort to reach the level 6 or 7, hence you could invest said effort into subjects which require the least effort to improve (apply your energy effectively, target easily improvable subjects first to maximize your grade relative to the effort you put in). This is a simple example, but it’s meant to highlight how you should invest time revising.

Another example could be as follows; say you believe that you can work 5 hours a day, and that your English assignment will only take 4 hours to do, this means that leaving it to the last day won’t be a problem. But what if you over estimated your abilities and that in reality you only ever get 3 hours of work done a day, BAM! We have a problem, you won’t be able to finish your English assignment to your desired quality. However if you had known that your daily output never exceeded 3 hours you could have split your work over 2 days. I wrote an interesting article on procrastination and output, it’s linked below.

7) Work the system:

Understand the IB, don’t try to brute force it, be more meticulous and invest time where it needs to be invested. Look at marking rubrics and grading criteria (understand command terms and how exams or assignments are made), consistently look at syllabus guides and talk with your teachers about marking and your grades. We have even written an EBook explaining how to beat the system, you can purchase it using the following link if you wish.

Be sure to check out our exam revision guide (its free):