Getting to Grips with Challenging HLs

With a curriculum as broad as the IB Diploma Programme, it’s no surprise that students generally have a subject or two that they struggle to get to grips with. When these subjects are at HL and are crucial to your university and post-IB plans, figuring out how to fulfil your potential in them can be overwhelming. 


The key thing to remember is that we have all been where you are now! Whether you’re struggling with HL English Lit or maths, you’re not the first person to deal with this. Here, we go through our top four tips to help you get to grips with your challenging HLs. 


  1. Try New Approaches


If you’re struggling with understanding or remembering content, try switching up your revision strategies! What works for one subject may not work for another. It’s likely that you’re using strategies for your challenging subject that work for a subject that you are more confident in.


While this may seem like a good method at first, you’ll find that the strategies that work for you in History aren’t going to be as effective for HL maths. 


For science subjects, like physics and chemistry, and maths, focus on exam style questions. Try going through worked examples step-by-step to help ensure you understand the reasoning behind the final answer. Doing this with a friend can be helpful. Hearing other people’s perspectives can be really useful for problem-solving based subjects. 


For languages, give watching your favourite TV show in the language a go! It’s more fun than reading through a textbook. Hearing the language spoken will give you a big boost for the oral. You’ll also learn vocabulary that probably isn’t in your textbook but is still very useful. Turning subtitles on, but in the language, will help you with spelling. 


  1. Plan Ahead


If you realise that you have a subject or two that you’re struggling with, it’s best to be proactive with tackling this! It’s likely that it’s going to take more time for you to get to where you want to be in the subject. Planning ahead allows you to take this into account. It will also help you stay on top of it and prevent you from falling behind. Take the time to look at the next few weeks and schedule in times when you’re going to work on practice questions or review content. 


  1. Aim for Consistency


Consistency and planning go hand in hand. By planning ahead how you are going to work on the subject you can make sure that your work is consistent. Check out THIS article about spaced repetition for more information on how working steadily gets you ahead! 


One simple method you can use is setting a time-based goal for the subject. For example, you could set a goal of spending 45 minutes on your challenging subject per week. This creates consistency and helps stop you from ignoring a subject you don’t like as much! 


  1. Find a Study Buddy


If you’re finding that tackling your challenging HLs is overwhelming or you’re not sure where to start with it, consider setting up some longer-term help. There are a bunch of ways to go about this.


Chances are, you aren’t the only person in your class struggling! Finding a study buddy who you can arrange regular revision sessions with can be really helpful. By talking through questions with another student you can help each other. Just make sure that your revision sessions actually contain studying. It can be very easy to get distracted when you’re with a friend. 


  1. Arranging a Tutor


If you find that you are struggling with understanding and your revision efforts aren’t helping, it may be worth considering arranging a tutor with Lanterna. We can offer regular sessions spread out over the semester, school year, or longer to help you get on track and stay on track!


An hour a week with an experienced IB graduate who knows the syllabus inside and out will help you work consistently and as efficiently as possible! Their personal experience of what it takes to reach your potential in the IB will be invaluable. They’ve been where you are now, and understand the stresses of IB. 


If you’d like to arrange longer-term tutoring, check out our packages available HERE or get in touch with us HERE. 


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