Written By Rashi S.
The IB DP Y1 is simply preparing you for DP Y2. Although Y1 may already feel like you have a lot of work to do or for some, or it may be more laid-back for others, Y2 is when the workload, deadlines, and pressure starts to kick in. Therefore, already trying to consistently develop the skills to help you stay afloat in the DP and excel in it is a great idea. As for those that are already in Y2, I hope this blog post sparks new ideas in you and aids you in sharpening, modifying, and/or motivating you to continue with the skills that you use as you come to finish your DP journey in just a few months.
- Stay Organized
Staying organized is a crucial skill that you need to develop for the IB DP and to reduce your stress. To start with, organize your workplace in a manner that motivates you to study. For example, do not keep your phone on your desk when you are studying. I usually study at home and leave it in a different room during my study sessions so that it does not distract me. Furthermore, keep your room clean. The benefits of having a tidy room are that you will have clearer thoughts and it will help you start your mornings peacefully, out of many others. Nevertheless, it is important to choose your study place wisely. If you think that you do not study well at home, try going to a public library or cafe instead. Next, choose to take digital or handwritten notes depending on what suits the subject. I used to take digital notes (on google docs) for subjects such as History and Psychology, which are writing-based. However, I used to take handwritten notes on subjects such as Math AI which is calculation-based, and French B SL, for example. You can experiment with diverse note-taking apps and methods (the outline, cornell, mapping method, etc.) to see what works the best for you and make your choice accordingly. I would like to recommend you to keep a binder in which you can keep your teacher’s marked assignments or essays to see his or her feedback on it. This is particularly useful for essay-based subjects as they often do not have objective answers and are based on structure, argumentation, interpretation, and so on. Ask for clarification if your teacher’s handwriting is illegible or if you do not understand the feedback. Keeping it and reading over it may help you notice patterns on aspects that you should improve on. This can be significant in helping you achieve a higher grade in the next assignment if you act on the feedback accordingly. Looking back, I did not do this often enough and I think it would have made my IB journey easier if I had. In brief, stay organized to reduce your stress so that you can manage the workload of the DP better. Feel free to check this blog post out, for more detailed tips and tricks on how to stay organized in the IB DP.
- Time Management
It is essential to develop good time management so that you can handle the DP workload smartly, and not the hard way. First, without going into much detail into this because it is pretty self-explanatory…: pay attention during class and take notes. Next, do goal-setting; check out our blog post that tells you exactly why and how you should do this. A significant part of goal-setting is planning early. For instance, planning the next day the night before is essential as that will give you a structure to your day when you wake up the next morning. Make weekly schedules to slot in meetings, study sessions, extracurricular activities, and hangouts. This will enable you to manage your time more effectively because you will be able reflect on what you are spending your time and effort on and for how long. You can also decide to change it to make better use of of your time. Make to-do lists for one-time tasks (my favorite app for this is Google Keep) as well. Moreover, if you are still in DP Y1, I would like to highly recommend you to complete your CAS Project in DP Y1. I finished my CAS Project in the summer break of Y1; DP Y2 was truly packed and thus it helped ease some pressure on me in Y2. Finally, despite all your efforts, the DP can get stressful. Hence, I recommend keeping the option of getting a tutor always open. When I was doing the DP, particularly in Y2, I often felt anxious due to the university application deadlines, the increase in the difficulty of the content, and so on. Therefore, I got many tutors at different periods of my DP journey to help myself with different subjects and for mentorship as well. Looking back at it today, they taught and gave me useful strategies and tips that contributed to the score I achieved. Overall, developing good time management is necessary to help you achieve your goals and give you direction in your life.
- Stress Management
Stress management is vital to manage the workload of the DP, to accomplish your aspirations, and stay healthy. To stay mentally healthy, you first need to be physically healthy. Therefore, start exercising regularly if you do not already. You can go to the gym, engage in a sport, go jogging, the choices are endless! I do not like exercising that much, however, I recognize that it is crucial. Therefore, I cycle to my university (10.4 km every day; 5.2 km going to university and 5.2 km coming back home). It is enjoyable and makes me appreciate my neighborhood and sometimes the weather, and helps me feel more relaxed. Physical activity helps pump up your endorphins (the feel-good chemicals in your brain), it is meditation in motion (after exercising, you may often find that you have forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements) and it improves your self-confidence and mood. In general, adolescence years along with academic pressure can often be stressful. Nevertheless, if you constantly and consistently find yourself feeling drained, sad, anxious, or any other negative feeling, try to identify the problem that is causing that negative feeling and act to combat it accordingly. You can first try to use general techniques such as exercising regularly, deep breathing, journaling, and writing down three things that you are grateful for every day and try to see if that works. Nevertheless, if you think the problem is getting out of hand, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you have a school psychologist, I recommend reaching out to them. When I was in school, I often went to them and it was helpful; they can give you techniques to deal with not only academic stress but help you with other aspects of your life too. For instance, with family problems, friendships, and how to get more comfortable with yourself. The difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that psychologists treat less severe conditions (learning difficulties, anxiety, and mild cases of depression) whereas psychiatrists treat more complex mental health disorders. Thus, generally, psychologists treat conditions that do not require medication. Going to your school psychologist can be beneficial also because they can refer you to someone else before it is too late if they think that you need more help. If your school does not have a school psychologist, I recommend talking to your general practitioner and they will most likely be able to refer you to someone. In short, taking care of your mental health is essential for your daily life so that you can have a positive attitude, enabling you to accomplish your goals.
To conclude, although the DP workload can often get overwhelming, with the right understanding of the nature of the subjects that you take, management techniques, and mindset, you can undoubtedly ace it. I would like to wish you luck in your DP journey, regardless of whether you are in Y1 or Y2. Know that you have a bright future ahead og you if you believe in yourself and genuinely work for it. Keep calm and carry on!