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How to get through the final stretch of the semester: resilience!

Each year we invite IB alumni to share their experiences, interests and advice with our global community in the graduate voices series. We welcome Diploma Programme (DP) graduate from Weston Collegiate Institute, Canada, Ayesha Rashidi who shares important tips to help you survive exam season. 

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By Ayesha Rashidi

Resilience; the key ingredient in persevering through this season of culminatings, exams, and university acceptances. At this stressful point in the year, it may be more effective to create a game plan rather than to have your 20th mental breakdown of the month. Rather than crying it out and taking prolonged Netflix breaks, it’s time to get your head in the game!

You may have lost all motivation and your attitude has gone from “I want an A in this course” to “I really just wanna pass”. The one thing that separates the people who actually do pass, and those that don’t is resilience. At the end of the day it’s your education that’s at risk and if that doesn’t drive you to finish the school year, I have no idea what will. Here are some ways you can stay resilient in these chaotic times.

The countdown

“The most important step in this final stretch is to be organized.”

It’s likely that by this point in the semester you are well aware of all the approaching deadlines. Culminating assignments, final assessments and of course, exams. It’s clear you don’t have the energy to stay motivated and you’ve resorted to just pushing through and getting things done. The most important step in this final stretch is to be organized. With the overwhelming amount of things you are expected to accomplish in such a short time you are bound to lose your sense of time and focus. We’ve all had instances where we finally felt that we were ahead of the game but in fact we just lost track of time and everything starts piling up.

Make a calendar! I cannot stress how valuable keeping track of everything on a calendar is. Calendars are the solution to the “oh no, I thought this was due next week!” problem. You can use your phone calendar, an agenda/planner or one of those wall calendars so you can constantly review what things you need to get done. I personally use my phone, agenda and a wall calendar because having a constant reminder of what I need to do forces me to finish it. Having a calendar not only helps you organize but it also lets you know the timeframe. What you have to get done AND how much time you have to do.

With having a calendar, you need to prioritize. If two deadlines are in the same week, you have to decide which one will take more time to prepare for and start on that one earlier. This gives allows you to dedicate time to assignments depending on how much effort you need to put into them. This way you’re not finishing one assignment and pulling an all-nighter to finish another. By prioritizing and spacing out the work time you need, you’re more relaxed and prepared to finish them. In this way you no longer watch Netflix to procrastinate but can watch Netflix because you know your schedule and can take a break sometimes.

Ask for help!

“In fact, all of you are in the same boat here and the only way you can get through it is by supporting each other.”

If google really isn’t cutting it, ask someone for help! It’s your teacher’s job to teach you not fail you.  So don’t be afraid to approach your teachers if you’re having difficulty with a project. The time you spend stressing yourself out and not starting a project, you could easily be proactive about and approach your teacher. They’re experts on whatever they’ve tasked you to do so I guarantee you, they know exactly how to guide you to the right direction. Whether by actually telling you what you’re doing wrong or you might have an epiphany while speaking to them. Either way, it’s way more effective for you to talk to your teacher than taking double the time to figure it out yourself.

If this is one of those things your teacher wants you to figure out on your own (trust me I’ve been there) then you have to rely on your classmates. In fact, all of you are in the same boat here and the only way you can get through it is by supporting each other. There should never be a sense of superiority or competition between you because your mark is not affected by the marks of your classmates, but by the amount of work YOU put into it. So you should really have no reason to shy away from reaching out to a friend. Even if you’re having trouble understanding your teacher, chances are your friends can “dumb it down” for you. There’s help available all around you, you just have to take the initiative to seek it.

This is the hardest part of the year but I promise you, it’ll be over before you know it. Good luck to everyone!

ayesha square

Ayesha Rashidi is a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, ON Canada. She wishes to pursue grad school to study—well she hasn’t figured that out yet but is open to suggestions. She hopes to major in Genetics. On weekends, you are likely to find her playing with her two cats; Milky and Little Bear. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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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