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Message to the class of 2016: IB finals will make you stronger

We invited IB diploma graduates to reflect on post-IB life and offer perspectives on topics of their choosing. Alumna Maham Kamal Khanum received her IB diploma from The International School in Karachi, Pakistan in 2015. She is now finishing her first year of university studies in Washington, DC.

By Maham Kamal Khanum

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The sweet smell of spring flowers and rain brings joys of the new season. But as this new season approaches, angst rises in many IB students as final exams near. As a recent graduate of the IB Diploma Programme (DP), you might be wondering if this time of the year brings back nostalgia from hair-pulling moments from exactly a year ago. For DP students in year two who are taking part in this year’s May exam session, it is now that time when college application decisions are on their way, and planners are filled with deadlines for the many components of IB assessments. The need to multitask is ever increasing and every milestone seems far away.

But guess what? This is what makes IB students uniquely prepared for university and the many other great achievements waiting ahead. Right now, it all might seem impossible to do, but part of graduating from the DP is to learn to manage the workload and turn it into a proud achievement. While there is no fit-for-all code to crack the mystery of getting through this, there are some sure ways to make everything more manageable.

I believe that the human mind does not function as well in compartments, so do your best to draw from other concepts to make everything easier.

Just a year ago, my own planner was full of IB abbreviations like IAs, EE, and TOK. My advice? Remember where you started from! Whether you transitioned to the DP from the Middle Years Programme (MYP) or any other school system, you chose to be an IB student and promised yourself to emerge victorious from it. Reminding yourself about this at a point where you have more to deal with than you imagined will rekindle the spark in you to ‘pull your socks up’. You have made it this far, and you should feel proud to be turning the bend on the final lap of the DP. Reflecting upon your journey will help you count the feathers already present in your hat and strengthen your self-confidence going ahead.

However, don’t get too overconfident. Exams are nearing, and it is time to get real. IB World Schools and coordinators around the world are busy guiding their students and preparing to seamlessly deliver student work to examiners around the world. If the burden starts to weigh you down, your coordinator and your friends should be your go-to resource in times of stress. Be it editing a draft of the Extended Essay or finalizing a last-minute change in an Internal Assessment, having someone run through your work minimizes the chances of missing a critical detail.

I was part of a different school system before beginning the DP, and I noticed that there is a greater expectation for independent decision-making throughout IB programmes. However, the charm of independent decision-making seems to fade away when you feel alone in the storm. So, remind yourself that you are not alone. It would be an understatement to say that sharing your anxieties with your DP coordinator or a favorite teacher will make every deadline more manageable. It makes a world of a difference! After all, learning through the IB is as much about shared experiences as individual ones.

There is a point at which it may be too late to do all this. There will be a biology final tomorrow or a midnight deadline for the theory of knowledge essay. When this happens, remember that everything you learnt so far was to build up to this moment. A major aspect of the DP is interdisciplinary learning – so don’t shy away from applying learning from one class or subject to another. You will be surprised to see how well you can apply your knowledge.

I still remember the eye-opening moment when I realized how my literature in the English Extended Essay (EE) was so closely linked to the philosophical concepts from TOK. From then onward, researching and writing became so much easier. I believe that the human mind does not function as well in compartments, so do your best to draw from other concepts to make everything easier. There’s no better time to do this than during your finals exams!

I promise that when you look back a year from now on your own DP experience – yes, you will be able to recall all the memories of anxiety and stress – but it will stay with you as an experience you learn from throughout life. It will prepare you for the real world, where it matters greatly how you accomplish everything and not just what you accomplish. Take it from me – the DP finals will only make you stronger! Good luck with your exams!


Alumna Maham Kamal Khanum received her IB diploma from The International School in Karachi, Pakistan in 2015. She is now finishing her first year of university studies in Washington, DC.

  • Susana Matthews

    The design teacher of our school would like to submit an article about Design in MYP, who shall we contact?

  • Kate Taverner

    That’s great to hear, Susana. Please ask them to email their proposal to communications@ibo.org