OSC guide for Parents/Guardians with a young person in their first IB Diploma year

So, your son, daughter or ward will be taking IB exams next year. What can you do to help them face the challenge with confidence? The following represent some tips that we have found useful… In them, we’ve represented your “young person” as “Sam” – mainly because writing “son, daughter or ward” takes up more space.

Get an early start

Sam cannot begin the revision process too early. The climb is hard, but an early start makes it much easier. Don’t leave revision to the last minute.

Reduce the load

Sam is carrying a load. It can be lightened by:

  • Getting non-exam IB commitments (CAS, coursework, etc.) completed on time. [But, don’t forget that good quality coursework gives Sam points “under the belt” before the exams. So it is important to devote enough time to these components.]
  • Scaling down (as appropriate) other commitments – especially as the exams get nearer. [But, Sam will still need enjoyable “outlets” to counter-balance the process of revision.]

Raise the spirit

  • The IB Diploma Programme climb is tough. But, everyone believes that Sam can succeed on it. Show that your belief in this is complete, 100%, unwavering.
  • Sam has made massive progress since the start of the DP. Show your appreciation of this. Sam might not recognise all of this, but, from your vantage point at “base camp”, you can. Communicate that.

Support the effort

  • Sam will be concentrating on the climb. As he gets closer to the summit, you can help by looking after Sam’s physical needs. Stock the fridge. Ensure that Sam has an appropriate environment to study. Buy lots of Post-Its – or whatever Sam needs to study. Encourage healthy eating, sleeping and exercise.
  • Be aware of the tactical support that’s available. See below. Use these support systems.

Tactical support systems

  • Teachers – they are experts on their subjects and on what the examiners are looking for in IB exams.
  • Syllabus– the IB produces clear syllabus guides for each subject. They also explain clearly the assessment structure and the criteria needed for getting a good grade. Has Sam got access to these?
  • Notes– Sam will have lots of these. A useful revision technique is to REDUCE, reduce, reduce– condensing notes into mind maps, diagrams, bullet-points, mnemonics, etc.
  • Past papers and mark schemes– these are extremely useful – especially the most recent ones.
  • Textbooks– very valuable for initial learning, but usually too bulky for revision. Therefore we recommend…
  • Revision Guides– these are specifically written for revision and are very useful in concentrating on what the student needs to needs to know/understand, etc. Find OSC’s series here.
  • Revision advice– there is advice online on how to revise. Check the BBC, Channel 4, various university sites, etc.
  • Study Buddies– while exams are still solo activities, revising with others is usually to be encouraged.
  • Revision Courses– expensive, but very valuable. Select courses run by IB experts and those which are large enough to be able to satisfy Sam’s needs by their setting. OSC’s IB Revision Courses have been running since 1990 and offer high-quality revision from experienced IB teachers.
  • Friends and family– vitally important. Provide understanding, support, and lots and lots of love!

Be there in case of need

  • Just as climbers report that an element of fear is valuable (to reduce the risks taken), it is perfectly natural if Sam shows stress. But, excessive signs of stress need a response. Raise the spirits, support the effort, keep calm yourself and listen, listen, listen. When Sam is stressed, don’t rush in to try to calm him down. This suggests that signs of stress are wrong. They are not. They are perfectly normal. Instead, encourage Sam to express the worries or fears that he is experiencing. But then, don’t feel that you need to offer advice. Usually, you can’t. But, you can offer time and space. Give Sam the opportunity to talk, to cry or just to be quiet.

Celebrate the achievement

Finally, celebrate when Sam finishes the exams. The achievement needs to be recognised. The IB Diploma is a highly respected programme (which is why universities love it) and Sam will be a superb, well-rounded graduate who will be able to tackle academic challenges fearlessly… whatever the final IBDP points achieved.