Why IB Was The Worst Thing To Happen To Me

Why IB Was The Worst Thing To Happen To Me

But still, I would do it all again.
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If you are, or are friends with an International Baccalaureate student, you've probably seen the posts on social media announcing their freedom from the chains of IB. "We passed!"..."No more IAs!"..."Good riddance, high school!" You're probably thinking all right, we get it. IB kids, can you maybe chill? but their excitement is no exaggeration. IB was the worst two years of my life (for academics and my mental health) and I, for one, am beyond glad it's over.

The first reason that IB was such a horrible experience was the toxic community it created. My public high school had both an IB stream and a regular stream of students. This bred a sense of exclusivity to the point where us IB students had a cult-like support system in place. We were IB. All we could talk about was IB and our EEs, IAs and every two letter acronym we could think of. Although at times, the close-knit community was nice, one person's anxiety would spread to everyone else and our "support system" turned into a machine designed to keep all of us on edge at all times. Many of us rarely ventured out of our IB bubble to find time to relax (and sleep) between our assignments and tests.

Second was the obvious workload. The way IB is designed is to force you to become a well-rounded student. Unlike AP, or my provincial education system, you can't choose courses that you're good at or are interested in pursuing. For IB, you have to take a course in almost every discipline. So although you may find the math coursework to be a piece of cake, the tests, homework, and papers may be overwhelming to another student. Unless you're gifted with an affinity for all subjects, IB guarantees that you will struggle with the workload for at least one course in your high school career.

The worst part of IB, however, are the exams. Senior year exams in May. For me, this meant re-learning two years of material for all my courses in two weeks. Maybe it's just that I'm not too good at dealing with stress, but I can only imagine the number of snaps I've been featured in as "that girl breaking down in the library." However, if the slew of panic-stricken tweets that flooded my feed were any indication, my classmates were in the same boat as me. Honest advice to the IB students in their junior year: start studying early. You've heard that line a million times before for a reason. You may feel invincible after finishing all your IAs and EEs, but exams hit you a lot harder than you will be prepared for. Oh, and don't hesitate to drink tons of bubble tea to get you through the three weeks of hell.

If you ask me right now if I enjoyed IB, I would say with utmost confidence, that no, I did not. Was IB worth it? Would I do it again? Well, yes. I'm a lot stronger than I was before the whole IB debacle took over my life and the happiness of finishing my last exam and running out those school doors is not so bad either. As a bonus, I have a cult-ish support system of friends I can count on for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Crusader Connection

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17 College Majors As 'Elf' Quotes

Son of a nutcracker, not another final exam.

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Christmas is so close, yet so far away. But what better way to spread Christmas cheer than singing loud for all to hear?

1. Music

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"The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."

2. Pre-Law

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"You sit on a throne of lies!"

3. Health Sciences

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"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup."

4. Theatre

"I am a cotton-headed piggy-muggins!"

5. Studio Art

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"Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"

6. Business

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"I planned out our whole day: First, we'll make snow angels for two hours, and then we'll go ice skating, and then we'll eat a whole roll of Toll-House cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish, we'll snuggle."

7. Photography

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"I just like to smile; smiling's my favorite."

8. Public Relations

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"Son of a nutcracker!"

9. Graphic Design

"You have such a pretty face. You should be on a Christmas card."

10. Education

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"You did it! Congratulations! World's best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It's great to be here."

11. Psychology

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"Does somebody need a hug?"

12. Political Science

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"You stink. You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa."

13. English

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel."

14. Engineering

"Have you seen these toilets? They're ginormous!"

15. Journalism

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"Good news, I saw a dog today."

16. History

"I'm sorry I ruined your lives and crammed cookies into the VCR."

17. Communications

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"Santa! Oh my God! I know him!"

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How To Create An MCAT Study Schedule

7 hour exam. 300 hours total of studying. One very important study schedule.

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At this point in the semester, a lot of undergrad are probably in the same boat as me. We have spent the last two, or so years focusing on classes, and hopefully passing. Now, the reality that we actually have to study, take, and pass the MCAT is dawning on you. You thought you had so much time, but you realize your MCAT date is only four months away and you still have so much to do. Don't worry. As long as your create a productive study schedule, that you are able to stick through, you should be okay.

Figure out how much time you have to study

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The MCAT is a rigorous exam that requires an even more rigorous study schedule. Before you begin studying, you want to see how much time you have until the date you want to take your MCAT, and also take into account your responsibilities. It is recommended that students spend 300-500 hours studying for the MCAT. If you only have two months until your MCAT, that means you need to study for the MCAT 40 hours a week - it basically becomes a full time job, so if you have a job, or classes - you may want to push your MCAT off till you have more time to study.

Figure out your weaknesses

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You want to figure out your weaknesses, so while you're developing you plan you are spending more time focusing on the sections you need the most help in. The best way to do this is by taking a full length MCAT exam. You can find a free one through Next Step, or you can take the more accurate full lengths developed by the AAMC that cost about $35. The MCAT is split into four sections: Chem/Phys, CARS, Bio/Biochem, Psych/Soc. Your full length will give you a composite score, as well as a individual score on each section that will help you to better understand your weaknesses, as well as the layout of the MCAT

Buy MCAT prep books/or a course

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You don't need to take an MCAT prep course, though some do find it beneficial, but you will definitely need to purchase a set of prep books. There are a variety of MCAT prep books available, but personally i chose Kaplan. However, you can expect the same general things in all prep books: practice questions, extensive lesson review chapters, and some even include full length test. These are all very useful resources for studying.

Sit down and create a daily schedule

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Now that you have an idea of the time you have to study, your weaknesses, and you have your prep books - it's time ot create your actual schedule. What worked best for me is buy an daily planner solely for my MCAT prep, and in there I would create a checklist everyday of what topics I wanted to take notes on in my prep books (about 1 hour per chapter), as well, I put in what practice questions I wanted to do (about 1-2 hours spent solely doing practice questions), and then I might spend about an hour completing CARS passages. Of course, you want to spend more time reading and completing practice questions in the areas that you need most work in. As well, around the last month leading up to your exam, you want to try to take a full length test once a week. This should really help you get used to the MCAT format, while practicing concepts

Get started!

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You have your study schedule. You know exactly what you need to do everyday, so the only thing left to do is get started! Find a quiet section of the library with no distractions, sit down, and open up your book.

Suggestions based on a 3-4 month study schedule

For the first month or so: Focus on content review. Do the practice questions that are in your prep books, and read the chapters/sections that you find most difficult. Take notes on these sections as well as notes on the questions you got wrong/why you got them wrong. You can even make flashcards if you find this beneficial.

2+: After the first month, you should have most of your content review done, and should really be spending most of your time doing practice questions over and over. I find it best to pick a section, Chem/Phys for example, and do random practice questions on those topics for about two hours. While doing practice questions, you want to ensure you are still taking notes on the questions you got wrong/why you got them wrong. As well, you want to continue practicing your flashcards if you decided to make some. If you find certain subjects are still giving issues, Khan Academy has great MCAT videos that are very effective at explaining concepts.

3+: At this point, you are taking your MCAT very soon. You want to start taking a full length exam once or twice a week at this point. The first full length test you take after two months of studying, should accurately reflect the sections you really need to work on. Spend the remaining days before your exam continuing completing questions in these sections, as well as completing full length exams

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