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Attention IB students: How to become an academic warrior

We welcome Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Saloni More of KIS International School to share inspiration and advice for IB students. This is her first story in the graduate voices series.

Attention IB students: How to become an academic warrior

By Saloni More

Are you in need of a little procrastination break? Perhaps you just wrapped up your IA’s and ready to put the extended essay (EE) and theory of knowledge (TOK) behind you? Or perhaps you’re fed up with remote learning and last-minute changes to life as an IB student? Your head feels heavy because your brain is so saturated by screen-time and you wish for the blissful life you led as a normal Diploma Programme (DP) student just a few months ago?

There’s no denying it; the IB can be tough and the last stretch is especially so, circumstances aside. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. That was me last year and, trust me, I often felt like a wreck. I will admit my experience, won’t be exactly like yours―but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I learned from the IB diploma in the year since.

“So, hang in there, IB warrior. I promise you it will be worth it.”

I will admit, I really enjoyed the first year of DP. I loved that there was so much to learn. There were clear learning objectives, which directed how much I needed to study, a plethora of memes I could now relate to and a sense of camaraderie among my peers that hadn’t been apparent before. I learned to question my beliefs and began to see that everything was a knowledge construct. Then, the second year came along, and all these deadlines appeared out of nowhere.

Along came March and there was still content that needed to be learned and last-minute changes that I needed to make to my IAs and TOK essay. Knowledge wouldn’t stick to my brain (to the point where I decided the answer to every chemistry paper two question was, “hydrogen bonding”), I didn’t think I’d meet the conditional offer from my dream university and I most definitely had no faith in the IB. Why should I complete such a demanding curriculum that seems to drain every ounce of my energy?

I’m here to assure you that no, the IB is most definitely not pointlessly challenging you and yes, you will survive this. Last year, when I was questioning the universe and IB, I couldn’t really find a purpose for the programme other than it looks really good on your CV. (Seriously, most universities absolutely LOVE IB credentials and might even give you credit for classes you take.) At that point, that was enough. It’s only now in university that I’ve realised all the valuable skills IB has drilled into my (non-adhesive) brain and no, none of them had anything to do with hydrogen bonding.

Keep doing what you love doing

Passing the IB or any challenge in life (*cough* med-school *cough*) is important but not at the cost of yourself. If you play an instrument but haven’t practised in forever because you’re so stressed, play your heart out. If you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours and hours, go for a walk outside. Play a sport, eat a piece of chocolate, hug your parents, annoy your siblings, read a book.

The IB is not your whole life and you have absolutely no obligation to make it your whole life. (On a side note, that’s the great thing about creativity, activity, service (CAS). You can procrastinate productively and write a reflection or two about how productively you procrastinated!)

Question everything

“The IB will teach you to never take things at face value, to dig deep and figure out why something is the way it is.”

If there are two words the IB is fond of, it is, “critical thinking.” The IB will teach you to never take things at face value, to dig deep and figure out why something is the way it is. You can assure yourself with the knowledge that you won’t be another clone dispatched to the next stage of life after graduation.

Writing up reports are a pain but learning it now saves you tears later in university

I’m a medical student, and we have to write four essays this academic year. Our work is checked for plagiarism, for proper referencing and, of course, the actual content itself. A lot of students don’t have the experience that I came from the IB with, having cranked out four thousand words right before the first draft deadline, and let me tell you, that has certainly come in handy. So, all the Es and those IAs you’re dreading, they will help in the long-term.

Enjoy the varied subject choice while you can

Having to take six subjects AND TOK on top of that is a hefty workload. But it’s also quite nice that you are exposed to several different fields of study. Your general knowledge increases ten-fold, you’ll be able to speak two languages (somewhat proficiently) and apply scientific knowledge to real-life. You will have conversation starters to rely on regarding the environment or Bandura’s Bobo doll study. You are developing into a well-rounded individual, and we definitely need more of those in our world.

Your IB score doesn’t define you

Yes, I know that’s easy for me to say because I’m done with the programme, but it’s true. Not one person has asked me what my IB score was. Believe it or not, there are some who haven’t even heard of the programme!

So, hang in there, IB warrior. I promise you it will be worth it.

Saloni 600

Saloni More is a first-year medical student at the University of Edinburgh. When she’s not stressing over memorising medical conditions and drugs, you can find her curled up with a book or running around the park, away from life’s troubles. 

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

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