Many of you may have heard of the stories about purgatory hell that is known as the International Baccalaureate (IB). And if you have already witnessed the hair-pulling nervous breakdowns some of your seniors are currently experiencing, it is no wonder that you are probably not looking forward to the start of the IB Diploma Programme.

Before you resign yourselves to your fate, contrary to popular belief, the IBDP is really NOT. THAT. BAD. Yes, you heard me. The IBDP is based on the educational philosophy of nurturing the well-rounded individual; an individual who can not only excel academically, but also become a thoughtful and considerate global citizen who is able to make a difference to his or her community.  That’s where the core components – CAS, EE, TOK – come into play here. These three compulsory elements aim to develop a broader view of the curriculum, challenging students to apply what they have learnt outside the classroom.

So before you lament these three additional ‘subjects’ you have to take, here are five tips to prepare yourself for this exciting new journey.

Tip 1: Know your syllabus

There is some truth when students say that the DP is one of the hardest things they have ever done. That is because a lot of the content found in the DP stems from the content you will find in the first year of university.


Yes, but before you cry foul, know that this is one of the reasons why the IBDP is so highly accredited by colleges and universities all over the world. An IBDP graduate is much valued as college administrators acknowledge the rigour of the programme and hence, appreciate the graduate that has successfully completed it.

To help overcome the initial challenges of the programme, take a look at the subject guides on the IBO website first. Take note of the assessment outlines and weightage. This will give you an overview of what to expect once you begin the two-year course.

Tip 2: Get organized

In this technological era, it is quite ironic to declare yourself ‘disorganized’ when there are so many organizational apps and devices at your fingertips. Even if you are a Luddite like myself, you can easily go to Typo stores to get a chic paper organizer or Popular bookstores for a cheaper version. There is just no excuse for disorderly conduct here.

So take this time, to explore and investigate the various options out there. Even simple colour-coded stickies on your desktop can serve as excellent reminders for deadlines. You will thank me later when school starts because very soon, you will find yourself caught up in a flurry of activities as the DP orientation opens up plenty of opportunities and exciting events. Coupled with academic commitments, it won’t be long before you find out you are double-booked or that you have forgotten to write and submit that Chem lab report.

Tip 3: Use CAS to explore your interests

CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) is a great way to give yourself a kickstart to building your college portfolio. Although the DP does not recognize activities you participate in before you actually enroll in it, you can still begin to plan your CAS portfolio so that once school starts and CCAs open up, you can start signing up and building your resumé over the next two years.

While doing all this, don’t forget to make this fun and interesting so that you have a memorable diploma experience. If you struggle with finding your interests, then keep an open mind and just try new things. You never know what you end up with. It could be a fantastic story that you tell your grandkids someday or an essay waiting to be written for college admissions!

Tip 4: Pace yourself

Of course you are going to be busy, but remember to take a break and pace yourself. The DP is, as we all know, going to be one helluva ride so don’t rush into it and get overwhelmed. Many first-year DP students often try to do as many things as possible at the beginning to get a head start but eventually, this will creep up on you and you will feel the effects of exhaustion.

Don’t fall into the FOMO trap; everyone is different. Instead, take a step back and evaluate your schedule. Make sure you give yourself time to sleep and rest. Schedule that in if you have to.

Tip 5: Visualize

Finally, this is not going to be one easy ride and the ultimate goal is to prepare yourself for college. The next two years will pass in a flash so while you have some time to yourself now, close your eyes and imagine what you want your life to look like in two years’ time. See yourself in a cap and gown, graduating from one of the most rigorous programmes in the world and which part of the world do you see yourself heading off to?

Knowing what you are working towards can be a very stimulating provocation for anyone to become energized. Even if you have no clue where you want to go and what you want to be, visualize anyway. At best, you would certainly see yourself finishing this course and that itself can be a strong push to success.

So there you have it. Five things to do over the next 1-2 weeks before a new chapter of your life begins. Enjoy the rest of your holidays and see you next year!