I mentioned in my first post in nearly two years that I’d been studying the IB, and at some point wanted to write a post about it. Though I’m not really sure I have any special wisdom to offer, I have now totally completely utterly finished the IB, having got my results today, and it feels wrong to have barely written about something that my life has basically revolved around for the last two years.
I started the IB in September 2016, after leaving it to the last minute to decide whether to do A-Levels at my old school sixth form or swap to the local college for IB. For those (read: 80% of the global population) who don’t have a clue what the IB is – here’s the basic rundown:
- IB stands for International Baccalaureate
- It’s equivalent to UK A-levels
- You take 6 subjects (3 standard, which is kinda like an AS level, and 3 higher which are closer to full A levels)
- You also study Theory of Knowledge and that’s examined by a presentation and essay, the grades of which are combined with the grade for a 4000-word essay on a topic of your choice to produce a score out of 3
- Each subject is out of 7 points (7=A*, 6=A etc) and adds up to 45 points
- You also have to do 50 hours each of sport, service and creative activities and a project based on these three strands which don’t have any points attached but are required to gain the diploma
So yeah, that’s what I’ve spent the last couple of years doing. IB generally has a reputation for being quite challenging (aka bloody difficult), but I remember thinking in the first term that it really wasn’t very hard?? I think I actually asked my tutor if I had missed some massive chunk of work or something? Turns out, they just make the first term easy and then start piling on the work after Christmas, and don’t really stop – the summer holidays were basically an extra term, because exams are really early on in May.
Second year was especially hard – it seemed like there was coursework after coursework, then mocks, then oral exams, and it just never ended – if anything, reaching the final exams was a relief because all we had to be doing was revising! It was especially tough at some points too when there were issues with my coursework due to various teachers, and it felt like I was working myself to the bone only for everything to go wrong. That was one of the reasons I actually burst into tears when I opened my results – I was so scared all the work I put in would be for nothing, like with some of my coursework, that it was such a shock for it to actually be reflected in my results. Even thinking about my score now I’m starting to happy cry!!
IB was an amazing experience though. Yes, it was hard and felt like it was never going to end, but the feeling of achievement at finishing it – and with a score above my predicted grades and way above what I even dreamt of achieving – is the best feeling I’ve ever had, and possibly the proudest I’ve ever been of myself. I’ve formed some amazing friendships – what can I say, there’s nothing to bond a group of 40 teenagers like two years of academic hell – and would do it again (only slightly ironic given I spent two years mocking a poster which quoted someone saying they would absolutely choose to do IB again). It was a crazy couple of years, and I’m honestly not sure I know how to relax anymore, but it taught me how much stronger I am than I thought, and how I can do so much more than I think I can.
I think the best way to describe IB would be in the words of an ex-student who came in to talk to us at the start of second year – prior to this we’d just had visits from students who scored 45 and made a career out of giving study advice to IB students, so this guy who scored around 32 was a breath of fresh air. He told us honestly that second year was going to be shit – that we would be so stressed we’d burst into tears at knocking a cup of tea over (though this is indeed a very sad occasion) and that it would be hideously difficult at times, but he also said that the feeling of putting your pen down after the final exam and knowing you’d survived the IB – even if you didn’t pass it – would make it all worth it. That advice really kept me going in the last few months, and is so, so true. There’s probably some deep analogy for the struggles of life in there, but I’ll leave that as a mystery, seeing as my brain has now officially signed out for summer!
I have no idea if this post was interesting or not, but it was fun for me to write down a bit of the rollercoaster that was IB – and if you’ve got any questions about it obviously just ask!