How to Survive the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

How to Survive the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

For those of you who have just started the IB or are entering into this dangerous, unknown territory, this article is a must-read if you have the desire to make it out alive. Ok, that may have been a little exaggerated. Regardless, you need this. Being an IB student can be a difficult yet nurturing experience.

The skills you learn in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) can be carried forward to university and life as they resonate throughout all areas of study and work.

Moreover, knowing how to tackle the 2 demanding years of IB can give you the most bang for your buck and make learning the course more efficient. As a former IB student myself I have curated the top 10 IB program tips to help you survive. 

1. Sleep

This may come across as a shocker as more sleep means less time to work but more sleep actually means better quality of work produced and the potential to tackle more challenges. Sleep is a healing process and it helps your neurons fire effectively. Hence, it helps you acquire and retain information better.

It is easy to slack off in IB with the plethora of information being thrown at you from every angle. Lack of sleep is the last thing you would want. Therefore, prioritize having a proper sleep schedule with at least 6-8 hours of sleep, as this is going to prevent you from the buildup of potential stress.

2. CAS

Creativity, Activity, Service. It is easy to get carried away with academics but getting CAS out of the way in your first year is the best thing you can do. The second-year is going to require a lot more of your time such as Extended Essay, TOK essays, and Internal Assessments.

Focusing on getting your CAS hours is really going to help you free up time for those other academic assignments later on.

Moreover, prioritizing the service part of CAS more than the creativity and activity is also going to aid your IB journey more so as it can be the most tedious out of the 3. Volunteering and doing projects giving back to the community is going to be your best bet at completing your service hours. Finish it as fast as you can.

3. Time Management and Procrastination

Managing time is what most IB students find challenging. Procrastination and cutting corners are not going to assist you to maximize the learning you get from IB. Keeping a journal of all the assignments that you’re required to do and their dates could be beneficial, this will help you keep track of things and prevent procrastination.

This is going to help you meet your deadlines as deadlines are one of the most important things in IB. You will need to think forward and prioritize your work accordingly.

However, if you do think that you’re going to slack off, approach and talk to the teacher of the respective subject. This is a better alternative than approaching the teacher at the last moment where they do not have leeway to give you an extension.

4. Practice past papers

Practicing past papers is one of the most important ways to ace the final IB examinations. It provides you with the structure and type of questions that appear in the exams, helping students thoroughly prepare.

It also helps students be more organized in terms of finding out which section takes up most of their time and thus, provides an ideal way of timing yourself and becoming self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Familiarizing yourself with past papers as much as possible early on is essential when it comes to preparing for the final examinations.

Also Read: What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)?


Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. You can face disregard of assignments or even termination depending on how severe your plagiarism is.

Use free websites to check for your plagiarism percentage before submitting your work and make sure it falls below 15-12%. Grammarly can also be used. If you want to use a paragraph or phrase in someone’s work there are a couple things you can do.

  • Quoting “” the phrase directly and in-text citing the author.
  • Paraphrasing, which means to put the phrase in your own words.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme does not take plagiarism lightly so don’t do it! Always give credit to the person you are referencing in your work.

6. Maintaining a Good rapport with Teachers

Teachers are going to give you a letter of recommendations, predicted grades, and the initial grading of your IA. Hence, they do hold the cards of your IB performance. Maintaining a good relationship with your teachers is essential.

They’re going to know what type of student you are and help you in your time of need. This means aiding you in areas where they feel like you need more work. It is also going to help the teacher gauge your potential in the subject and come to an understanding in the times where you do slack off.

7. Extended Essay, Tok and IAs

Start discussing the topics you want to write your extended essay, Tok essay, and IAs on as early as the end of your first year. You should be leaving your 11th grade with confirmed topics by your teachers. This is going to eliminate any chance of last-minute confusion because you will have the whole summer to do primary and secondary research on the topics you have chosen or even switch to a different topic.

Utilize the summer vacation to put together a very rough draft for all your assignments. This is going to help you get feedback from the teachers and polish your work as much as possible. Your future self will thank you for this as the final months of IB submissions can be dreadful if not pre-planned for.

8. College Placements

Your performance in IB is directly going to influence which university you will admit into. Look into college requirements as soon as the middle portion of your 11th grade and the entirety of your summer vacation. Get involved in activities that would paint a holistic picture of you and build up a resume.

Sit with your college advisor and apply to colleges that fit your performance and gauge. Look into early decisions, scholarships, conditional and unconditional offers, prerequisite exams such as the SATs/ IELTS. Perp for them and get them out of the way as soon as possible in your 1st year. The last thing you will want is standardized exams to be affecting your IB performance.

9. Modify the form of information

Some students often find it difficult to read long paragraphs of a subject they may not have much interest in. So to avoid a loss of interest or skimming over crucial topics, you can always use various other mediums to obtain the same information.

For example, there are various youtube videos of IB teachers explaining concepts in an engaging manner, or diagrams in websites that condense and thoroughly explain topics in a simple way, or using pre-made flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge on the subject.

10. Make connections

It is essential to make connections when you are learning something. Interconnectedness helps retain and understand various bits of information from different areas better.

For example, various topics in economics are connected with each other. A topic from international economics could be related to microeconomics. Therefore, creating a link between information allows you to process and explain your answer better when it comes to the final IB exam.

Having been an IB student and been through all that IB has to offer I can strongly recommend these tips for IB students. Know that there will be low points where you will slack off, demotivated, and will need extra assistance because the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a challenging course designed to bring the best out of the student.

One last major point I would like to conclude with is to have a proper support system in place for the difficult times, whether that be a teacher, counselor, therapist, friends, or even your parents who constantly and consistently have your back.

Good luck!

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