Early Days in the IB

Article by: Devesh Rai

Illustration by: Sung Hee Bae

The International Baccalaureate. We gaze at it with a sense of fascination in 9th grade and view it with apprehension in the 10th, before being clutched in its grasp by 11th. Every year, a new set of students enters the curriculum, testing their strengths and endurance against a storm that doesn’t subside for two years. While some students grow to enjoy it, others simply do what they can and what they have to to get by.

Over the past four weeks, this year’s juniors have gotten their first taste of the curriculum. While they don’t fully know what awaits them yet, they were asked about their early impressions on the course. Nodir Musaev, whose classes are more science-oriented, views IB in a quite positive light so far. According to Nodir, “It’s not bad! I don’t have too much work because my classes don’t have much homework, and I get so much time to do work due to study halls, and the things we are learning are really interesting. It doesn’t seem to be as much work as I expected.” His opinion, however, is not shared by Francis Acevedo, who described IB as “hell on earth.” Francis, who takes writing heavy classes such as History and HL Language and Literature, states that, “In IB, there are so many things to do, but so little time, especially since I have to do work for a lot of other councils too.”

For those who, like Francis, are struggling with a heavy workload at the moment, seniors offer to help with their expert advice. Aparna Mohan states that, “I learned the hard way that the key to success in the IB is to study smarter, not harder, and to be a time management guru. Because the biggest issue with juggling the IB and extracurricular endeavors is simply having time.”  Daniel Jachim provides a unique perspective, saying, “It’s important to not take things too seriously. You did poorly in an assignment… OK, move on! Do better in the next one!”  Carla Singson, who is currently completing her CAS requirements, chimes in by saying that one of the most underrated ways of preventing a negative IB experience is by “Writing CAS hours quickly, especially before the supervisors move away…”

While those tips will certainly help juniors cope with the IB, it should still be remembered that it’s okay if one is struggling. IB is an incredibly intense experience, but it is a way for a person to grow as an individual, by encouraging them to overcome obstacles – especially the immovable object that is procrastination – and become more responsible. So, though Francis may find it challenging now, one does get used to the heavy course load eventually. Meanwhile, for Nodir, it remains to be seen whether his opinion will hold after encountering IAs, the EE, TOK, FOAs or IOPs, WAs, and other iconic IB acronyms.