Let us let you in on a little secret: most students are not ready for the intensity and rigor of the IB curriculum.

At first glance, the IB curriculum seems fairly manageable. Students are to study a total of six subjects.

You might be thinking, “that doesn’t sound too bad.”

And you’re right. This is only two subjects more than what most JC students in Singapore study.

But this is only scratching the surface of the IB curriculum.

Besides needing to study for six subjects, students are also required to complete coursework components like their internal assessments, weighted assignments, the 4,000 word Extended Essay (EE), and the Theory of Knowledge paper (TOK).

If you are breathless reading the amount of work IB students have to complete, hold your breath- there is more.

On top of the internal assessments, extended essay, and TOK, students also have to clock in 150 hours for CAS; 50 hours for each strand: Creativity, Activity, Service.

With so many things to juggle, it is extremely crucial for students to manage their time properly. Without good time management, students can easily be overwhelmed and lost under their workload.

Here are three steps you can implement into your study routine today to help you stay sane.

Let your short term goal build towards your long term goal.

Traditional goal-setting methodology tells us that goals are divided into long-term and short-term.

A good way to visualise the long and short-term goals is to think of it as different types of race.

Long-term goals are like marathons. They aren’t achieved within the duration of a month. They require stamina, good pacing and discipline to reach the finish line.

In school, IB students may set the following as long-term goals:

  • To score a 7 for Economics
  • To get a 7 for the IA Chemistry research
  • To get full marks for the TOK essay

Short term goals, on the other hand, are like sprints. They don’t require a copious amount of time to complete and are generally less tedious than long-term goals.

Some common short term goals IB students make are:

  • To score full marks for the class test on Price Elasticity
  • To submit the Chemistry first IA draft

This way of envisioning short and long-term goals is effective in letting us understand the difference in duration between these goals. However, it doesn’t tell us what is the most efficient way of studying.

Sometimes, we can be planning short-term goals that do not build towards the long-term goals.

Instead of thinking of your long-term goals as marathons, try thinking of it as a relay. The distance of the race is longer than the sprint, but it is covered over a series of short sprints.

Similarly, identify key signposts of your long-term goal and make them your short-term goal.

This way, as you are meeting your short-term goal, you know that you are making slow and steady progress towards your long-term goal as well.

Don’t leave work to the last minute

Throughout the two years of IB, students are not just only preparing for their final exams.

On top of it, students are also required to work on their IAs, EE, and TOK concurrent with their regular studies.

With a long runway ahead for courseworks, like the IA, many students make the fatal error of leaving it till the end.

When they finally do start working on them, most students find themselves anxious and tight for time.

The result is also less than ideal. Rushed and undeveloped, student’s last-minute works tend to pale in comparison to work that has had the time to be refined and worked on.

Instead of setting aside big study blocks to work on your IA, try to split it into smaller, more manageable time blocks.

After all, just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day so is your IA not written in a day.

Create a study plan that you will actually follow

Create a study plan. This is nothing new. You’ve probably heard it many times and are familiar with the purpose and benefit of creating one.

To quickly recap: study plans help you use your time effectively.

It lists down the study tasks you have to complete and when you have to complete it. It also monitors your progress, giving you an organised way of keeping up with the curriculum taught in school.

The benefits of having a study plan is undeniable… if you actually follow through with it.

Unfortunately, while most students we know make a study plan, not many actually follow through with it.

Study plans can sometime look like this:

2.30pm – 3.00pm Read Literature Book
3.00pm – 4.00pm Study Biology: Chapter 9
4.00pm – 5.00pm  Math AA: Chapter 7 Practice Questions
5.00pm – 6.30pm Economics IA Research
6.30pm – 7.30pm Revise Literature themes
7.30pm – 8.30pm Dinner
8.30pm – 10.00pm Study Economics: Chapter 11
10.00pm – 11.00pm Study Spanish vocabulary

This is an impressive schedule- it covers five out of the six subjects an IB student may have on their timetable.

However, this schedule has one fatal flaw.

It is overly ambitious- most students would find this schedule hard to follow.

For a study plan to work, you will want to inject periods of study with periods of recreation and fun.

If a study schedule is not working for you, why not try writing a study to-do list.

A to-do list may be a more effective way of time management.

Instead of blocking out time to study a specific subject, create a list of study tasks you want to complete in a day. When you are done, you can then cross it off your to-do list.

A tip when creating a to-do list: make it as specific as possible.

For example, if you are going to work on your Economics IA, state the exact area you will be working on. Are you sourcing for articles? Are you drawing the graphs? Write it down in your to-do list.

Time management is a vital skill that all IB students will need over their two years of study. Besides helping you be better organised, having good time management skills can significantly free up your time, giving you time to pursue your interests and spend time with the people you love.