It’s that time of year again when the IB students of the world knuckle under for the final stretch. The prospect of getting two years’ worth of work into your brain can be daunting to say the least, but fear not – here at Lanterna we’ve been through it and we are here to give you a helping hand! The first thing to remember when planning your revision is that everybody works differently. Just because your friend claims to be revising for 10 hours a day, doesn’t mean that you should be too. Know yourself and what works for you, and make a plan to suit your own needs.
We all respond best to different levels of planning: whilst some people get stressed out by too much structure, others like to know in advance exactly how and when they will get the job done. With this in mind, we’ve included two alternatives ‘routes’ in some of the steps below:
- The ‘Operation IB’ route for those of you who like a little more structure in your life
- The ‘Easy Breezy’ route for those who like to go with the flow
Step 1: Make a game plan
The best place to start with IB revision is to remind yourself what you are dealing with. Two years’ worth of work is a lot to remember, so start by re-familiarising yourself with the topics you’ll need to revise. Find the syllabus for each subject, look at the ‘Syllabus Outline’ page, and highlight any topics or options that are relevant to you. Use this as an outline to make a list of all of the topics that you will need to cover, in as much detail as you find helpful, until you feel like you’ve got everything in front of you. You can use this list as a checklist throughout the revision period, crossing things off as you cover them and making sure that you are working through it at the right pace.
Step 2: Work out how much time you have
Having some concept of how much time you will have to yourself to revise is important so that you can pace yourself properly and not run out of time. Potential ‘revision time’ includes the Easter holiday, study leave (if your school gives you any!), evenings, weekends, and any time in school where you will not be in structured ‘revision lessons’. Remember, you are not expected to be working all of the time that you have to yourself – relaxation time is crucial too, so plan for this. It’s all about balance! As a very general rule of thumb, 6 hours of revision per full working day is a good aim, but feel free to adjust this higher or lower this to suit you as a learner.
‘Operation IB’ route:
- Use our handy planner below to work out how many hours you have between now and exams to revise
- Highlight any time you would like to spend revising, and keep a running total. BE REALISTIC with this.
- Don’t highlight the whole day just because it is there! Give yourself regular breaks, and leave some days revision-free – you are only human and need to be kind to yourself!
The ‘Easy Breezy’ Route:
- Think about how many weeks there are until exams start, and make sure you are on pace to be ready by the time exams start (e.x. at the time of posting, there are 5 weeks to go, so you should be aiming to cover 1/5 of the material you need to cover per week)
- There may well be weeks where you will have more time than average, so be sure to use these wisely!
Step 3: Divide up the time you have between your subjects
Use the game plan you made in Step 1 to work out what portion of the revision time you calculated in Step 2 you should be spending revising each subject. The IBO recommends that teachers spend 5/39 of total teaching hours on each SL subject, and 8/39 on HL subjects, so use these portions as a guideline and adjust them according to:
- How much content there is to cover – The game plan from Step 1 should give you some idea of this. Some subjects are more ‘fact-focused’ whilst others are more ‘form focused’. As a rule, the former tend to take longer to revise.
- How difficult you find that content – It’s okay to devote more time to subjects that you struggle with so long as you are leaving yourself plenty of time to deal with your other subjects too – be wary of putting all of your eggs in one basket!
- How time-consuming the revision techniques you plan on using are – Have a think about this in advance. Some techniques take longer than others but can be worth the time investment.
You could even do this using a packet of Smarties (or equivalent)! There are around 40 in a tube, so start off with piles of 8 for each HL subject, and 5 for each SL subject. Then, move the smarties between the piles until you’re happy with the proportions!
‘Operation IB’ Route:
- Decide whether to plan time by the hour, o to be more vague (morning/afternoon/evening).
- Choose how much detail to include – do you want to know exactly which topic you will cover in each session? Or, would you rather know the subject, but work thtough topics from start to finish according to your game plan?
- Get scheduling! This can be done by hand (using large sheets of sugar paper, coloured pens and a long ruler), or digitally (using sites like GetRevising or Revisionworld, or by making tables in MS Excel).
‘Easy Breezy’ Route:
- Each week, make sure you are revising for every subject, roughly in the proportions you established in Step 3. It is a good idea to spend a little bit of time planning this at the start of the week
- On Monday morning, scribble down on a piece of paper which subjects you are going to revise when so that you can get the proportions roughly right. Here’s one we managed to make in 10 minutes using pens around Lanterna HQ!
Step 4: Make a schedule
And that’s it! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t stick to your schedule 100% – it’s inevitable that some things will take longer than expected. It’s ok go go back and make changes where you need to (obviously this is where making a digital timetable comes in very handy). Stay flexible, always maintain a sense of how much you need to cover and how long you have to do it, and you will be absolutely fine!
Thank you for reading this week’s blog! I hope you found some of the tips helpful and are ready to make an effective study timetable!
Watch a Video: Create an IB Plan