04 March 2012

Tip #3 - The Syllabus

I believe that the IB syllabus for the subjects you are taking is possibly the single most important document in existence. Unfortunately, there are many who barely look at it (or even never look at it). If you want to do well in your subjects, you will NEED to look at the syllabus, probably on a regular basis. Why?

1. What to learn - Part of the syllabus goes through in some detail the exact expectations the IB has of students in terms of the facts, concepts, methods, etc, that you are expected to know (both for final exams and for assessment). You may think that you can just rely on your class notes and your teacher to know what to study, but the truth is that teachers aren't always perfect. It is possible that they might miss something. Or you may not think it is important at the time and overlook it in your study. Or you might miss a lesson and not realise. If you check the syllabus, you will be able to see if there are any holes in your learning, and fill them!

2. What NOT to learn - One of the greatest traps that IB students fall into during their study is assuming that "if it's in the textbook, it must be important." However, this is not always the case. Many textbooks contain superfluous information that, while interesting, will not appear on your exams and would be a waste of time for you to study. Some teachers are equally guilty of going off on tangents (note: Maths teachers may discuss tangents: this is actually relevant) and tell you about things you don't need to know. Check the syllabus to pick out the things that you can dismiss - it will save you a lot of time as you prepare for finals.

3. How to organise your notes - In most cases (but not always - it differs between subjects) the syllabus is divided up with topics of study and then syllabus points of what you need to know. As you can see from my notes, I fully believe that the best way to organise and make your notes is exactly according to the arrangement of the syllabus. It makes it easier to revise, to look things up and keeps interlinked ideas together.

4. Assessment - The syllabus also discusses the details of your IB assessment. By reading this, you will know exactly what is expected of you at each point in your IB journey, how much it is worth, and how long it is expected to take you. It would be the greatest tragedy if someone put all their energy into studying for Biology paper 1 (worth 20%) and then failed their Paper 2 (worth 36%). The criteria for assessment can also be found in the syllabus.

5. Command Terms - While not relevant to some subjects, other will have a list of command terms used in the IB exam questions. If you want to answer the questions properly, you will need to know what they are and what they mean. You won't get the marks for defining something when you were supposed to explain it!

It may seem like a big, useless document that is only important for the teachers. However, a student who effectively uses the syllabus throughout their studies will do much better. If you don't have it, get it!

25 February 2012

Tip #2 - Organisation

... or organization. Whichever you prefer.

So, we've all been there. Starting a new year or semester, or even at a random point in time: You decide that you have been far too disorganised and need to get it together. You go out and buy a new diary, pens, plans out an excellent study timetable that will put you way ahead of everyone else. And you're lucky if it lasts a week.

Some of you won't even get that far. You feel like disorganisation is just unavoidable - possibly like a cage you missed the chance to get out of. Whatever your situation, I'm pretty sure that most of us, one way or another, wish we were more organised.

How can you get organised... and more importantly - make it last!? I don't profess to have all the answers, and my suggestions won't benefit everyone, but hopefully they will help you.

1. Baby steps - I firmly believe that breaking a habit takes time; often, more than we are willing to commit. If you want to change your ways and become more organised, you will need to have the focus to work on it over a period of a few weeks. Work on it a bit at a time. Start off by getting in the habit of writing down everything you need to do in a diary. Don't have all your notes in different places - record your homework for all your subjects in the one place. That way, if you are ever unsure of what you need to do, you need only open up your diary. The next week, focus on how you use your time - sit down in chunks of half an hour (no Facebook etc!) and do work. Then stop, take a break. Then, start again for another half hour. Build up your ability to focus on working by doing it in short sessions. You will be more productive this way, than if you try to sit down and work for three hours straight. The week after, focus on class organisation. Make sure that when you leave for school in the morning, you have everyting you need for class (completed homework tasks, pens, books, textbooks). If you aren't ready for class, you won't be able to learn properly, and by the time you get home to start homework, you will already be behind.

2. External Factors - Your organisation isn't just about study. It's also about the other personal factors that will affect your ability to study. Are you sleeping properly, or do you wake up late (and have no time to get yourself ready). Do you eat properly, or are you over/under eating? Both extremes will have a negative effect on your ability to concentrate, just like sleep. Are you doing regular exercise? Obviously as an IB student, it is easy to find yourself swamped and have no time to go and play sport for the recommended 30min per day. Just aim to get up and move a bit each day - skip rope outside for 15min in the afternoon. Go for a short walk. I can assure you that exercise will help you to work more effectively, so it is well worth sparing a bit of time each afternoon or morning to do something. Organise regular meals, appropriate amount of sleep and regular exercise into your day.

3. Notes etc - There is nothing worse than having good notes, but never being able to find them. You can get little drawers for your books and papers, sort them by subject to keep track of them. You don't need to be a neat freak - just keep everything in a place where you know where to find it. Label all your books, folder, computer files etc so that they can easily be identified.

That's just a few ideas to get you on the right track. :)

21 February 2012

Tip #1 - Productive Procrastination

Everyone is guilty of procrastination. When it comes to choosing between spending time with your friends and doing homework, the choice is often easy. Sure, you feel guilty, but it doesn't stop you from doing it. Unfortunately, this usually has consequences for your grades.

So, how do you stop it? We all would like to be able to declare "That's it! No more! I will never procrastinate again!"... and have it actually work. Say it as often as you want, I don't know anyone who could reform such a long-standing bad habit overnight. Instead, I found a different, much more effective strategy: productive procrastination. This may seem like an oxymoron, but hear me out:

Everyone has things they enjoy doing - things that we are motivated to do. In most cases, study isn't one of them. However, to help me overcome this, I found ways of incorporating study into the things I enjoy. The main one I used was drawing - when I was bored, I would sit around drawing pictures of things related to school. It was enjoyable, and helped me to remember important diagrams for subjects like Biology. At the time, it didn't feel like study because I would draw pictures that had nothing to do with my homework/assignments/exams at the time. Nevertheless, it still helped me in the long run by getting those imagesinto my long term memory. I also found it easier to understand more difficult concepts in Chemistry by drawing diagrams.

It still counted as procrastination because I would spend ages drawing something irrelevant to my class, but it became helpful later on. Also, by working on something relevant to school, it can lead you on a productive train of thought about the topic - maybe bring questions to mind that will highlight the areas you need to work on. Remember that in IB, the final marks - not the term marks - are the ones that count, so an activity that isn't pertinent to your upcoming assessment could still help you for the big, important stuff.

Find an activity that you enjoy that can help you. Use your time wisely - if you play sport and do Biology, think about what your cells are doing to allow your muscles to move. If you're driving, think about the Maths behind acceleration and speed, etc. IB is relevant to your daily life, you just need to look :)

20 February 2012

Donations

Hi everyone,

As you might have noticed, there is now a button on the right entitled "Donate to IB Screwed." Clicking on this allows you to donate money for use with IB Screwed. There are no set amounts - you choose how much to send through. The purpose of this is to give a poor univeristy student some funds to continue buying textbooks to help me improve the IB Screwed notes. Any money donated will be immediately put to use getting resources from Amazon.

Please be as generous as you can. If you regularly use IB Screwed, kindly show your gratitude for all the hours of effort that went into these notes. It doesn't have to be much - every few dollars counts. The more you give, the more you will get back.

Thank you to all those who have given feedback and shared their notes in the past. Keep it up :)
- IB Screwed.

25 January 2012

Intro to IB Video

This would be good to watch if you are just entering the IB Diploma programme

06 December 2011

Recommended Links

Hello there,

Here is the updated list of sites I recommend. I've checked the ones from older posts to see which ones were broken.

IBO WEBSITE
http://ibo.org/

INTENSE COGITATION
http://intensecogitation.info

FREE EXAM PAPERS
http://freeexampapers.com/

IB RESOURCES
http://www.tuition.com.hk/ib/

IB A STUDENT
http://www.ibastudent.com/index.php

LANTERNA ONLINE COURSES
http://www.lanternaeducation.com/ib-online/

IB SURVIVAL
http://www.ibsurvival.com/

If you know of anything else worth adding, just let me know at ibscrewed4@gmail.com :)

Networks

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