The IB year is starting for most students. It is an exciting time because the courses you are doing are new and hopefully interesting. Also there is no left baggage from previous courses – it is a fresh start.

A word of warning however – the IB is an educational system that has very little flexibility. The choices on offer from most schools is limited, and of course have to fit into a blocking system that allows the timetable to work. In addition, you have to make the subjects work for you – there are not options for dropping a subject – if you do that, you fail the diploma.

Once you get to about Christmas of year 1, you are more or less fixed in what you are doing and cannot change. This means you have basically 1 term in which to make sure that your subjects work for you – so you must hit them hard and work on all the problems you meet – do not put aside difficult points and hope that it will all be sorted out later in the course – most of the time this will not work – it just creates a tortuous time when you reach the revision process.

My advice here is very simple – work hard – make sure that you know where your priorities lie (i.e., with your academic work) and try to ensure that within the first few weeks you are able to convert yourself from the MYP/GCSE years, to this new level, and can cope with the new demands being made of you.

If the above was not reason enough to work hard, then I have another one. It is really important for you, to know how good you are at your subjects. Once you know how good you are (at the moment), the faster you will be able to find out how to improve even more – it is all about potential and whether you can fulfill your, and waste it.

The idea is this …Imagine you ultimately want a ‘7’ in physics at the end of the two years. There are two questions you need to answer:

  1. How hard do I have to work in order to achieve this level of attainment? This requires you to work harder and harder until you get there – until you and your teacher feel that the effort you are making is allowing you to reach this level – it will not be easy for most students – grade 7’s in Physics are in short supply!
  2. Can you keep this level of working up, for the full 2 years?

The sad truth is that most students never find out the answer to the second question because they do not work hard enough to be able to get to the answer to the first.

If you work hard, you will find out if you have what it takes to get a high score. And if you do not have the skills (for example, if your maths is not quite good enough), then you have the option to change to a subject that matches your skill-base better.  But this does require you to find this out early – hence starting at the beginning of the course with very hard work is a good thing. In addition, you might even start to love physics so much that it become your passion.  If this happens, rest assured you will have reached the dizzy heights of a level of sadness most never know – but a good type of sadness – one you will be very happy to have.