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Mock Exam Study Tips from ISNS DP Coordinator, Brian Kelley

Dec. 20, 2017

Mock Exam Study Tips from ISNS DP Coordinator, Brian Kelley

With DP Mock Exams right around the corner, it is important that students reflect on the ATL skills they have developed while in the IB programme. Specifically focusing on self-management, communication, and thinking skills in order to effectively review for and complete these important exams.

Essential Learning
Prior to their exams, students must ask themselves how to effectively and efficiently review material for each of their DP subjects. One way to do this is to think about their courses and focus on the “essential learning” from each unit. Strive to use content from your courses to answer those questions. Review is about practicing your ability to show knowledge and understanding. When in doubt, ask your teacher questions when you return from the holiday break. 

Reflect & Keep Note
With an eye on your DP exams in May, keep a notebook with questions and ideas about key testing strategies and materials that worked, or did not work, on your Mock exams. IB DP students are well versed in reflection, and must look back on their Mock exams and improve upon their review process. Students are encouraged to work smarter, not harder. Having a notebook full of review notes and strategies will make reviewing for the May exams more efficient and streamlined.

Here are some tips from IB students that successfully completed the IB Diploma.

For Math and Science, note cards can be used as a way to write down terms and concepts that are essential in each unit. Write the concept/term on one side and a short concise definition on another. Focus on the key terms and concepts from each course, while also identifying anything you had trouble with during the year. This will ensure students understand those concepts for their exams.

For the Individuals and Societies, students are encouraged to make concepts maps to link content information from the course to essential understanding from each unit. This will allow students to improve critical thinking and avoid thinking linearly about two years’ worth of course information.  Another area that students should practice is their writing skills. They can do this by making outlines for different topics, focusing on command terms to help structure their essays, and identify specific information from their course to justify their claims. Re-reading the textbook is not going to help prior to exams. 

Lastly, for languages, it is important for students to review the literary works they covered in class. Students do not need to focus on the specific details of each plot, but make a one-page summary of integral information for each work. Review the main characters, their traits, their flaws, the main themes, the authors writing style, and the use of literary devices used in each work the student read. Identifying this information will enhance critical thinking skills, as opposed to memorizing plot details for each work.

Manage Your Time 
The last piece of advice for DP students prior to the start of exams is to manage their time. Review is not something that should be done for hours on end the weekend before exams. Students are encouraged to use their time between now and their exams to make a review schedule. Set aside a couple of hours a day of review, using the tips listed above. Identify the areas of each course that need to be reviewed most, and use time in class to ask teachers to clarify any ideas, concepts, or information that is unclear. Take study breaks, clear your mind, and go back to studying. Again, the key to success is being efficient when reviewing. The brain needs mental breaks to absorb material and training one’s self to work breaks into a schedule is proven to be highly effective in increasing productivity. Rid yourself of distractions and stick to the time limit you have given yourself to review for that day. Achieving these daily study goals will increase efficiency and improve self-esteem.

Brian Kelley, DP Coordinator
Brian Kelley, DP Coordinator

Students Need Sleep!
Developing these management skills will ensure that students lead a balanced lifestyle, reducing stress, maximizing their time, which will ultimately lead to success. With that said, the single most important thing students can do to prepare for their exams is to get a goodnight’s sleep. Staying up until 4 a.m. to study for an exam has become somewhat of a badge of honor for students. Unfortunately, according to extensive cognitive research, depriving the brain of sleep is one of the most detrimental actions for cognitive functioning, significantly slowing neuronal activity in the brain. Students need to be clear minded and focused for the marathon examination period they will endure. As parents, you can help your child succeed by ensuring they get 8 hours of sleep prior to their exams.

G12 students have worked hard for the last two years and should be proud of what they have accomplished thus far. The tips listed above are suggestions to help them cross the finish line in a healthy and balanced manner.