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First week in the IB Diploma Programme (DP)


Proudly telling the world about our curricula in our 50th anniversary year


Starting the IB Diploma Programme (DP) can be daunting, especially since the DP’s core educational concepts can be vague to both students and parents. But critical thinking, reflection, and the other concepts are all incorporated into the actual IB day-to-day coursework. They are skills that are taught and developed over time – so there’s no need to worry. With that being said, with school having started this month for many countries, here are four things a DP student should know as they enter their first month in the IB.

1. Yes, there will be lots of reading

Let’s get this out of the way: there is a lot of reading in IB courses, from novels to plays to memoirs and more. But it’s not a whole book in one night. In most classes, students will be assigned a chapter or two with accompanying coursework that will help guide their understanding of the text and help in creating lively class discussions. Plus, the reading is meant to be thought-provoking and influential – not reading just for reading’s sake.

2.You don’t have to wait to be called on by a teacher to speak

And speaking of discussion, DP students can expect to be engaged in a lot of peer dialogue in class. Discussions often take the form of Socratic seminars which are student-guided talks responding to open-ended questions that have no right or wrong answer.

In these discussions, students not only voice their opinion, but actively listen to differing points of view. Thus, the discussions challenge you to work together and find collaborative solutions to questions offered in class.

3.You will write to reflect, not to be right

In the first month of classes, expect to actively reflect on reading assignments. Reflections might take the form of written responses, classroom discussion, or small projects. Reflection is much more interactive than a standard in-class assignment. Reflections are designed to help students begin to think about course material on a deeper level. Plus, it develops your critical analysis skills, which are essential for post-secondary studies and future careers. Writing assignments are engaging and personal.

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4. Projects are based on coursework AND your interests

No IB course is complete without a culminating project, which you will learn about and possibly even begin within the first month of class. Communication and research-based, these group or solo projects tie together course content and a question of interest to you, and result in a tangible piece of work. Some completed projects may even have a Q&A segment, which allow for you to demonstrate your knowledge and engage with others as an expert on your topic.

The work completed early in the DP is all preparation for the second year when students will be expected to read and comprehend with much greater independence. By the end of their studies, they will be ready for DP exams and look back on the experience knowing it was all worth it.

For more helpful tips, read our post on the top 15 DP terms, check out our guide for parents and students, and look ahead to earn university credit and scholarships with your IB diploma.