OSC’s resident IB expert Layla Moran imparts her wisdom on planning for IB success. As an experienced IB Maths and Physics teacher, Layla knows what it takes to succeed in the IB Diploma Programme.

Yay, it’s the start of the new school year! For many of us this is a time of great joy, seeing friends we haven’t seen all summer and making new ones who have just joined the school. A new school year also brings the opportunity to make a fresh start or refine our study habits to make the most of the year ahead.

Being an organised student is one of the keys to being a successful IB student, but like anything else in life you need to set aside time to do it. You probably already have a back-to-school ritual. Colour coding your timetable for example or decorating your locker. Take a moment to think ‘what can I do to make myself just that bit more efficient?’. Here are some handy tips that you can do right now to make the most of this IB year and maximise your chances of IB success.

Organise your filing system

Many of my students complain that one of the challenges of the IB is that with so many subjects, their bags get very heavy and they tend to lose papers between home and school. One technique that I have seen work well is to have two sets of folders. A ‘current’ set and an ‘archive’ set you keep at home. Keep current topics in, ideally, one large folder with dividers for each subject – this is all you take to school. Then, when a topic is over, transfer the papers to subject-specific single folders at home.

When it comes to studying for those all-important exams at the end of the year, you’ll be grateful to have a chronological record of what you did and won’t be wasting time working out ‘where did I put that really useful handout!?’. You could also put a monthly reminder in your phone or diary to make sure you take 5 minutes to keep this system up to date.

Organise your time

Another challenge as an IB student is keeping a balance between studying, social life and extra-curricular activities. School trips, CAS, tutoring, university applications and family commitments all tend to eat away into your time and it is easy to get overwhelmed when all of a sudden a number of things happen in the same week. There isn’t much you can do about these but you can be prepared. An excellent first step is to map every major event you are aware of well in advance in a calendar.

Try getting a school calendar like the OSC Study Planner so you can see it all at one glance. Pencil in trips and important events at first and go over in pen when confirmed. Include everything major like family occasions, trips and big IB deadlines like Extended Essay drafts or mock exams and make a point of asking you teachers, IB coordinator and family to give you as much information as they can. While seeing it all in one page can be a bit daunting, it means you can plan ahead if you see a number of deadlines or events that overlap or are close together. That way you are mentally prepared to deal with it and can ask for work in advance or explain to friends you may be out of action for a little while.

And finally, enjoy yourself!

The start of a new school year is an exciting time whether you are starting your IB Diploma or going into your second year. I wish you the best of luck with it all, and remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single (organisational) step.