Study Plans for Non-Exam Time

Written by Stella Dry

Why you need a study plan and how to make one 

It might feel like the IB exams are ages away. But we promise you, they will be here sooner than you know it and preparing on time will make them 100 times easier. So how should you structure exam preparation? One very important starting point is a study plan. That is why this blog post will be focusing on study plans for non exam time. 

Why is a study plan a good idea? 

Why would you want to study when exams are so far away? The answer is that it is simply not possible to cram all the knowledge and skills needed for top scores in one day, one week or even one month. That would be way too stressful! Most of the preparation for IB exams will be done throughout the two years of the programme. Trust us, we know that most IB students have a very heavy course load and it is not easy to keep track of everything. Making a plan could take some weight off your shoulders. A study plan can help you keep up with your daily school work, such as tests, presentations and IA work. It can also help you start exam preparations on time. And starting early will make your life way easier in a few months. 

Make a Long Term Plan 

When it comes to IB exams, revision is key. For example, if you are currently in IBDP year 2 it can be easy to forget the content that was taught during year 1. A long term study plan can help you refresh that knowledge. Start by setting monthly goals: What do you want to revise each month? What new things will you be learning? Before each month you can decide how to structure your studies in more detail. To keep up with your day to day work it can be helpful to write a list of tasks that should be finished each day. When doing this, include things that will help you reach the goals from your long term plan. 

For example 


  • Math: Finish IA, review integrals. 
  • Biology: Revise respiration. 
  • English: finish reading The Stranger, come up with a topic for the HL essay. 
  • And so on …


  • Finish english homework 
  • Study for biology test
  • Do a few integral practice questions

Of course, you can always change your plan depending on what you are working on in class. 

Use the Syllabus 

The IB will only test content that is in the syllabus. This makes the syllabus your ultimate study guide. If you know everything in the syllabus, there is no stopping you! When making your study plan, use the syllabus as a checklist. Write down what you know and what you do not know and have that in mind when making your plan.

Focus on your weaknesses 

It can take more time to understand some difficult concepts and develop new skills. Therefore you should start working on this as soon as possible. When you have found your weaknesses (using the syllabus) you should incorporate these early in your study plan. For example, if you covered probability in DP year 1 but still feel a bit unsure, maybe the first month of DP year 2 is a good time to look over it again. That way you do not have to relearn probability right before exams. 

If you are not sure how to go about strengthening your weaknesses, there are plenty of blog posts on our website to help you out. For example, check out this blog post about studying global politics, or this one about study resources And there is plenty more where those came from.   

Be Realistic 

It is important to try being realistic when making a study plan. An unachievable study plan can do more harm than good. If you add more than you can handle to your study plan it is easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. For example, it might not be realistic for you to revise all content covered in DP1 of HL Physics in one week. Remember to be kind to yourself – You still have plenty of time! 

If you are new to the IB you might find this article about dealing with the workload in DP1 helpful


Now you should hopefully have some idea of how to get started on your study plan. Remember that there is not one correct way to make a study plan – the important thing is that it works for you. If you need more help developing a study plan that is specific to your needs it can be helpful to work with a Lanterna tutor. 

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