Some last minute suggestions before your IB Exams:

In case you haven’t already done some of the following, OSC is passing on to you a few tips that have helped IB students in past years.


ORDER: It is absolutely vital that you are organised and lead a well structured life.

O Organisation – Make a structured revision programme for the next few weeks
R REDUCE, Reduce, reduce
D Diagrams – Try using visual ways to show topics.
E Exam techniques – Don’t throw away all you have done by messing up during the exam. Manage the exam well.
R Rigour – You must be disciplined and discriminating with your time and energy. Without Order and Discipline, everything else is ineffective.


  • Organise your study space well. Quiet and calm is essential for concentration.
  • De-clutter your desk
  • Remove distractions during this revision time.
  • Eat well and healthily.
  • Exercise – this improves memory and reduces stress.
  • Get help from family and friends – e.g. food drops to save you time and energy.  You can reciprocate after exams!


  • Make your revision timetable for the remaining weeks and days – start from the exam dates and work backwards
  • Be realistic about the amount of time and energy you will need to revise.  Time management is a real skill.
  • Prioritise the subjects – those you need to do best in (university offers), the most difficult subjects (often Maths) and those with the most content to review (Biology, History).
  • Prioritise the topics within each subject – are there OBLIGATORY topics? – those that SHOULD be done?
  • Know the format of each exam.  Look at the marking criteria. The style of the exam dictates to some extent how you revise.
  • Get on top of a few topics in depth.  It will become easier and quicker to do the others.  How many topics should you revise?  If you have an exam with choices, as a guide, revise at least a couple more than the minimum.
  • Revise topics 2 or 3 times.  It will always be easier the 2nd and 3rd time around.
  • Limit the time revising one topic: it won’t help if you don’t get round to revising several topics.
  • Study difficult topics when you are at your peak concentration level.
  • Tick topics off as you do them, so that you can get a sense of achievement.
  • Include some empty slots to allow for unforeseen events. Be prepared to be flexible.
  • Relate revision guides (if you use them) to your notes.


  • Use SWOT cards (index cards – pocket sized for convenience) or A4 summary sheets. Try to get each main topic on one page of A4.
  • Use diagrams (flow charts, mind-maps, time-lines, tree diagrams) lists or anything that works for you to make remembering effective.
  • Read through your notes, then cover them and on a blank sheet, write down as much as you can.



A. Before Exams:

  • Practise answers and essays (including skeleton answers) from past exam papers.
  • Practise writing against the clock.
  • Revise the notes, not the books, the night before the exam.  Scan through your summary revision sheets.
  • The night before, prepare all materials needed for the exam. (Be sure you know what you are allowed to take in – formula book? dictionary? calculator? Know  well ahead what you are allowed.)
  • Arrive in a fit state and in good time.

B. Strategies in Exams:

  • Don’t rush!  The first 5 to 10 minutes of the exam are vital.  Most marks are lost by students not following instructions or running out of time.
  • Read instructions meticulously – including the right number of questions.
  • Budget your time sensibly. Look at the mark allocation for each question and each sub-section and work out how much time you have for each question.  Jot this down and stick to it.  Ideally, allow 5-10 minutes at the end for checking.  Keep an eye on the clock.
  • Read each question twice; mark the ones you can do.
  • First answer those questions you can do best.
  • Answer the question. Do not stray from the point.  Jot down any ideas that come to you when you first read the questions.
  • “Go for the jugular”, i.e. the key word(s) or phrase, explain your interpretation of them clearly. What do the questions ask you to do e.g. describe, analyse, calculate, explain, criticise, evaluate, argue a point of view, or what?
  • If you cannot do a question or part of it, leave it and move on.  It is important that you get to the end of the paper and do all the questions (and parts) that you have to do.
  • If you are writing essay answers, always allow a few minutes to make a skeleton plan for your answer before writing, and give equal time for each essay.
  • In the last 10 minutes, complete questions you may not have been confident about.
  • Check your hand-writing.
  • After the exam, try not to think about it and get yourself ready for the next one.


You must be ALERT and FRESH on exam days

(especially true for your first exam)