Each year, the seniors take a series of exams to determine their predicted grades for IB and semester grades. This allows them to simultaneously prepare for the Final IB Exam and see where they are and how they can improve further. As this year’s seniors wrap up their mocks, they look back on their journey by answering a few questions that we prepared for them.
1. When you were stressed about exams, what did you do to relax?
Sij: My form of relaxation varies depending on my mood but typically, you’ll find me resting my eyes after hours of continuous reading and use of digital devices. At the same time, I also particularly like to listen to music.
Levi: According to Sally, I cried.” *laughs* Okay…Oh yeah, I ate sweets. Eat what you want. Like, I really got through the stress by eating. I ate what I wanted or what I craved while studying.
Alya: When I’m stressed, I watch Youtube and Netflix, but only for a while. I don’t let myself get too relaxed.
Kat: To be honest, I’m not at the point where I feel relaxed yet because I’m still in the middle of exams [when this interview took place], but I feel like generally, I try not to stress myself out too much. I feel like I don’t have to have a way to relax since I already have the right mindset.
Nicolle: I’m a technical person, so I listen to calming music and try to breathe. I try to be aware that I’m actually breathing.
Kaza: I went out with my friends and played video games.
2. What is the most efficient study habit you have?
Sij: I set goals for myself prior to studying and gradually accomplished each while giving myself 8-minute breaks in between. Like in a day, I would focus on five topics in two subjects while having extra time to, say, munch on snacks or rest my eyes.
Levi: Are you really asking me? Most efficient study habit? *laughs* Okay, the most efficient study habit I have is, like, since we’re required to use our laptops we are more vulnerable to Youtube, or social media and all that because they are just a click away on your laptop. There’s an app on my laptop which prevents apps so, for example, I can set a 30-minute timer and for those 30 minutes it blocks out the apps I chose. So if I use Youtube, Facebook, Messenger or Instagram a lot, I would add those to my blacklist during those 30 minutes.
Clair: I think creating a study planner ahead would be most efficient because you know how much you’re covering, but you have to do that at least a month before.
Kat: I wouldn’t call my study habits efficient, I would say that they’re unique and that they work for me. So basically, what I do is use online resources and other than that, I fake it ’til I make it. I lowkey wing it.
Nicolle: It differs for every subject, so like for subjects that require lots of reading, I try to read the important stuff, like the important terms or ideas. But for subjects that have to do with multiple choices, like Chemistry or Bio, I try to make my notes and then remake them so that the concept stays in my mind.
Kaza: I don’t have study habits.
Basically, when you do mocks, you have to retain two years’ worth of information in one of the world’s most rigorous high school curriculums. [It’s] really stressful because it’s the first time in your IB career that you’re actually going to try full-on exam conditions before the actual exams.
3. How did you prepare for mocks?
Sij: It’s… situational. Different subjects require different methods of preparation especially with subject-level differences (HLs and SL). At this point, I like to prioritize areas where I have room for improvement what with the official IB exam dates arriving closer. In Biology, for instance, there is a vast gap between the number of topics in SL and HL. Being in HL requires reviewing the core and looking over the skills especially involving drawing annotations again. Generally, I took time to focus on the parts of the subjects that I didn’t have a complete grasp of.
Clair: Well, I did create a study planner but due to other deadlines, that has not been really kept efficiently. So towards the end, I got into the habit of solving a lot of past papers and that can be really helpful for a lot of the science and math subjects because a lot of the questions are kind of similar each year, maybe not for like English or other tests, but that’s how I study for science. And, for like subjects such as Business, or humanities-wise, I think I just study what was in the textbook, like the content stuff more than the past papers.
Kat: I prepared for one exam *laughs*. Well usually, with whatever time I have, I just try to review what I feel like I’m not confident in and even if I run out of time, I just go to the exam and give it my best.
Nicolle: I used past papers to familiarise myself with how the tests go, and for me, sleeping really early the night before the exams really helps.
4. What do you think was the most challenging part about studying for mocks?
Sij: I wouldn’t say there was only one definite challenge, but being an IB student requires you to balance and organize your time. Studying for mocks while having to meet with teachers for IA revision (albeit really helpful) tended to put me off balance. So I sort of struggled with determining which thing to focus on first.
Levi: The most challenging part to studying for mocks was trying to cover all your subjects. Like it’s not just an exam for one subject, it’s for everything, and it’s like your first time trying to answer either Paper 1 or Paper 2 of certain subjects.
Clair: I think the most challenging is that we still have other deadlines. We still have like classes going on but at the same time, we still have to prepare for our tests whereas compared to others like Grade 10 or below, I think it was more like all the classes were there for review and it is just kind of different for IB depending on how much you finished your IA’s, [whether or] not everything is done, and you still have to do both at the same time.
Alya: Managing my time equally for each subject.
Kat: Oh my gosh, okay, so basically, when you do mocks, you have to retain two years’ worth of information in one of the world’s most rigorous high school curriculums. Mocks is really stressful because it’s the first time in your IB career that you’re actually going to try full-on exam conditions before the actual exams. It feels like you’re already taking the exams, even though you haven’t finished doing all your coverage yet.
Nicolle: It was balancing studying for the mocks, our other schoolwork, and other stuff going on. It’s really important to have at least two hours, or if you can go more, that’s better. Committing at least two hours of studying every day really helps.
Kaza: Everything, especially time management.
[When I’m demotivated] I just try to feel the type of emotion like, ‘Oh, I’m tired’ or like, ‘I don’t want to do this’. After that, I reevaluate why I’m doing this in the first place. When you know your priorities, it helps you to get motivated again.Nicolle
5. Did you ever lose the motivation to study, and if so, how did you get yourself back on track?
Sij: It happens half the time, really. Part of the challenge was to overcome those moments especially in the presence of procrastination. I’ve become proficient in establishing short-minute breaks for myself where I’d usually take a step back, rest, and remind myself of my goals. It’s nice and reflective to get reminded of the purpose of why you need to accomplish something. Other times, I’d talk to my mom and after a while of her enlightenment, I’d be back to feeling like I could take on the world (ah, moms, they’re something else, aren’t they?)
Levi: Think about the grades you will get in the end. And if you lose motivation think about the grades you would get if you don’t study.
Clair: What if I didn’t get myself back on track? *laughs* Just kidding. You obviously lose motivation when it gets too close to the test date and you feel like what you could do is already done. But I think the motivation is, at least even though you’re demotivated to study, at least try to do a little bit because it’s better than nothing. And if you continue to do at least a little amount each day, your motivation will come back and will kinda speed up with your studying and you’ll be back on track! Just don’t quit in the middle
Alya: Yes, I lose motivation and to regain that motivation, I just force myself to study because that’s the only way to get motivated.
Kat: I lose motivation every day. (I lowkey don’t have any motivation right now.) To keep myself motivated, I think I just want to remind myself that if I get through this, I can get to the next thing, which is the actual IB exams. So basically, I try not to put as much pressure on the Mocks, because this is kind of a way to see where I am in my progress.
Nicolle: First, I just try to feel the type of emotion like, ‘Oh, I’m tired’ or like, ‘I don’t want to do this’. After that, I reevaluate why I’m doing this in the first place. When you know your priorities, it helps you to get motivated again.
Kaza: I never lost motivation.
6. How do you plan to make use of the time you have left before graduation/IB exams?
Sij: I plan to prepare myself physically and mentally to become the best version of my IB self by strengthening my weaknesses in specific subject areas that I need to improve on so that ultimately, I can finally say, “it’s all worth it”.
Levi: Well, now the only thing we have left is our final IB exams. So as soon as our mocks are done that’s the only thing we have to prepare for before we graduate.
Alya: Maybe spend time with friends but also learn how to manage time and allocate certain days to answer past IB papers in preparation for the IB exams.
Kat: I plan to–of course–study and review while I can, but I’m mainly focused on spending whatever time I have left with friends and family and making the most of it because I won’t see them anymore or the same way after graduation.
Nicolle: Studying, catching up with sleep and spending more time with my friends.
We would like to thank the seniors for allowing us to interview them!
Article by Dragon’s Print team (Grades 9-11); Feature image by Jun J. (Grade 9)
The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the students and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.