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Filtering by Tag: tricks

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). 

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):

How to Create Plans You’ll Stick To

Arthur Zargaryan

The following is about how to create realistic plans. It's adapted from my blog. I hope it helps.

There are two easy ways to create feasible plans:

  1. Pretend you have 30% the energy you usually have
  2. Copy a plan you’ve completed successfully before

Note that I’ve left out the most obvious way – looking at a calendar and the things you have to do then filling up the hours.

Why don’t we stick to plans?

It’s simply too difficult

For some reason, if we imagine a free day we imagine a lot of time. But we also assume our energy levels will match that. It often doesn’t.

Cramming the day with loads of activities is only going to make you tired quickly and far more likely to stop doing them even in the middle of the day. If it’s a long term plan it’s even less likely to continue.

We get distracted

Distractions are a huge problem. As research shows, after a distraction, it takes about 25 minutes to get back into work.

It makes our work far less efficient and moves everything in the plan forward. Therefore we work longer, become more tired and start putting things off.

We don’t give ourselves enough time

We might assume that we can get an essay done in 3 hours but sometimes we might get stuck which means we have to take a longer break. Or we can’t find the book we want.

Same with side projects you might want to do after work/studying. If we expect to do all of them in a minimal time then we’re either going to drop them completely or reduce them drastically and feel guilty about it.

We procrastinate

Looking at a large plan for the day can be intimidating and cause us to procrastinate. Therefore we don’t do anything we aim to. Here’s one simple way to stop it.

Making plans work

1. Assume less energy than normal

This point relies on assuming you have less energy than your plan assumes.

If we try being superhuman then get intimidated or worn out by our plan, it’s not a useful. On the other hand, if we’re more modest, we have a much easier starting point, procrastination is less likely and we will complete things.

Let’s take one of the plans I’ve had in the past (and I’ve had many):

  This is actually a simplified version of a plan I had at one point in my first year of university.

Looking back on it, it’s surprising to think that I considered it then even more surprising is that I was annoyed when I couldn’t complete it! Nearly 9 hours of difficult (and unnecessary!) work I had planned. That’s on top of being social, dealing with chronic pain and you know, trying to not hate books after my first week.

The plan didn’t work for a variety of reasons:

  • I didn’t have the energy to complete them
  • I ignored other factors (like having friends and going outside)
  • It was boring
  • It wasn’t flexible

Creating the plan with the mind that you’ll have less energy means you plan to do fewer things, increase flexibility and still complete things. So the plan above might turn into this (assuming there’s a 9am start):

And that’d be it.

The first plan has nearly 9 hours of mentally tasking work while the second has 4 hours with large breaks in between. It’s much easier to start and I found I got more work done with the second plan overall.

 Copy a previous plan.

The second condition is easier to implement. If you’ve successfully created and completed a plan before, copy it and use it again.

However, it’s important to take into account new factors when doing this because your past plan might have been completed under much different conditions. For example, if you’ve caught a cold, your energy is going to be lower than it would be normally so you’ll complete less work or it’ll take longer to complete the same amount.

But remember to be reasonable. If you’ve planned an overnight stay at your library or a general rush till exams, you won’t be able to sustain it for a long period. To combat that, refer to point one.

An impromptu Q&A session

“But you’re doing so little work – this doesn’t apply to me!”

Fortunately, it still does. If you’ve ever planned anything and never completed it (although you feel you should have) then it applies. Creating unrealistic plans is normal and unless you actually have unlimited energy, it’s fine to plan less and complete more.

Dealing with chronic pain means I’ve had to change how I view plans and making my time more efficient. This is one way I’ve managed to stay with the crowd despite being in pain all the time.

“But what if I can’t plan less! I have so much more work to do than you”

That’s where the second condition comes into place.

Not every plan can work on such little energy. Deadlines and loads of work exist. If you’ve actually completed a plan that meets the demands of your current situation, mould it around that.

If not, continue to assume you’ll have less energy when creating it. And stop procrastinating.

Yet, don't use this excuse to return to an unrealistic plan crammed with work from the time you wake up to the time you sleep.

“What if I have scheduled commitments?”

If you have a variety of things you want to do (clubs, learning new things, blogging etc), reducing the amount of energy you’ll have to complete it seems ridiculous. It isn’t.

In this scenario, you have to exercise prioritising and say no to some commitments. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you won’t do them, get frustrated at the ‘little free time’ you have or burn out very quickly and blame yourself.

Admittedly, it is difficult saying no to things especially when you seem to have a lot of time for trying new things. Those things won’t disappear straight away and there’s no point in planning them if you’re too tired to complete them.

It’s alright to say no.

This is a big thing for IB students. Especially if you feel that extracurriculars are extremely important. However, there are a few more things important than extracurriculars and even grades. Your health.

Running on low energy and being on the verge of burn out for two years is damaging. It can have adverse affects like putting you at risk of depression and other health problems that happen as a result of stress.

Take the time to assess your priorities throughout the school year and decide what you want and need to do. While the IB is a difficult time for many, you do not need to assume it'll be difficult and aim to fulfil that prophecy.

"I'll try to do that but which would you pick, sleep, study or social life?"

This is genuinely one of the biggest lies about the IB ever. It's sometimes funny to joke about how little sleep you get but there's nothing to be proud about when it comes to getting little sleep.

You can have all three. I recommend you have all three.

Studying is important for getting good grades.

Sleep is important for every activity you do. Sleep debt is a thing. If you consistently go without sleep, it's not much different from not sleeping at all. For example, if you consistently shave 2 hours off your sleep for a week then at the end of the week, your attentiveness is the same had you not slept for an entire day.

Socialising with other people can be fun and a welcome break from reading books all the time (which is inefficient since concentration levels drop throughout the day).

Plan less and give yourself more time to enjoy your day. Your grades will thank you for it.

“Am I allowed to continue working past my smaller plan?”

Yes. A minimal plan makes it easier to start working. It doesn’t necessarily put a limit on how much you should continue working. Though, it should make you more efficient with the hours planned – reducing the need to continue working much more.

The next day, return to the minimal plan. A good plan is sustainable.

“I’m rubbish with times. What if I oversleep?”

Ignore times and focus on activities. Instead of planning the hours, aim to work on a project for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

If that is too difficult, aim to do an hour of the project during the course of the day. The earlier the better of course as you don’t want tiredness to excuse you from working.

“Did you write these questions yourself?”

Some things are best kept secret.

Action Steps

The take away from this is to reduce the amount of energy you’ll need to finish a plan so it’s easier to start and easier to complete.

What can you do now?

  1. Create a plan for your ideal day
  2. Assume you’ll have less energy than normal
  3. Create a new plan.

A small amount of completed work is better than a large amount left wished to be completed.

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.

How to Write a Solid Level 7 English Essay for Paper 2

Arthur Zargaryan

With good preparation, a few memorized quotes, and a solid knowledge of the themes of your novels, it is very much possible to score a 7 on the English Paper 2 Examination. I’m going to give you a basic outline of how to structure your essay and also tell you a nice way to organize your quotes for the books that you’re reading.

Read More