By: Claire Zhao, Cathy Yan
Interviews by: Angela Dai
On April 1, the grade 11 IB diploma students went on a fun and rewarding field trip to Simon Fraser University to do some preliminary research for their Extended Essays.
What is an Extended Essay? What is CAS? What is TOK? How to do well in IB? These are just a few questions, amongst a myriad of others that younger students have asked about the IB program.
Today, the Colt Monthly wants to take the opportunity to tell aspiring IB students about IB. You won’t get tips like this from a pamphlet!
Choosing Your Courses
Because IB is a 2-year course, course selection for grade 11 is very important. The decision you make will most likely determine what you will be studying for the next 2 years, so we suggest you do some research beforehand.
Look carefully at course syllabus to see what topics each course will be covering, what key skills the course hopes to develop, etc, to see which courses are really right for you. Never jump to conclusions!
A Crash Course in EE, CAS, and TOK
IB is not all about studying; the goal of the program is actually to transform you into a balanced and knowledgeable member of society. To help you achieve this aim, there are three unique sections to the IB program you must complete in addition to your regular courses: the EE, CAS, and TOK.
EE, or Extended Essay, is a 4000-word essay written on a topic of your choice, intended to help you develop the research skills needed in university. It is technically due at the beginning of your grade twelve year, but you are expected to complete it in about three months. However, if you choose a topic you are genuinely passionate about and do not procrastinate, the EE will feel much shorter than it is.
CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service, and is referring to the extracurricular activities you must do in order to earn your diploma. Examples include volunteering, playing in sports teams, etc. Remember: IB wants well rounded individuals who lead a healthy, active lifestyle, give back to the community, show creativity and take initiative, not a bunch of bookworms who don’t do anything but study. In addition to collecting 50 hours for each section, you will be required to regularly write reflections on your activities. Don’t do the activities just for the hours. Do activities you really enjoy and the reflections will come naturally. Preferably, you will also continue to participate in activities and update your reflections even after completing your hours.
TOK, or Theory of Knowledge, is a little ambiguous, but basically it’s about how knowledge is acquired-the different ways of knowing, different areas of knowledge, and how it all relates to each other. You’ll be doing quite a bit of writing and presentations for this course. It may seem strange at first, but once you get used to it, TOK may be one of the most interesting courses you take.
Commonly Asked Questions:
Is there a LOT of homework?
Homework load varies from course to course. Of course, in general the workload is greater than what you were used to in previous grades, and the material is quite a bit harder.
Will my grades drop by like 20 percent?
Most grade 10’s have probably heard this rumor. Once again it really depends. Not denying that there are students who’ve dropped by 20% (or more), but there are also students who do just as well, if not even better in IB than in previous years. It really depends on your study habits and how you manage your time. Of course, most students do drop in at least some of their subjects when they enter IB, to varying extents. But keep in mind that to drop is completely normal and don’t be discouraged by it.
Do IB students get like 3 hours of sleep every night?
Another common rumor. Likewise, there are definitely IB students who only get 3 hours (or less) of sleep. But there are also those who get the full 8 hours every night-not because they are geniuses, but because they are good at managing their time. These are the people who do their work throughout the week and don’t cram the night before. They are also the people who don’t check their Facebook every few minutes when studying. Of course, that’s all easier said than done. Unless you are one of the highly self-disciplined few, you will most likely lose some sleep when you enter IB.
Good Advice from IB Students (with analysis):
“Beware of the Sciences, especially HL courses.”
(^This is quite true. IB Sciences are genuinely much harder than Science 8, 9, and 10, especially Higher Level courses, and that big leap tends to throw people for a loop. So be prepared! In addition, you will be doing a lot more lab work and writing a lot of formal lab reports, which is something we don’t do a lot in previous years. The labs are often a lot more complicated than the simple labs done in grade 8-10, and getting used to writing formal lab reports can be a hard process. )
“Study hard, manage your time, be organized, get some rest, and communicate with your teachers.”
(^Your teachers will play a very important role in your IB journey. Remember: They are there to help you, so don’t be afraid to talk to them and ask questions when you are confused.)
“Don’t use twitter”
(^While social media can be a great platform for peer-helping, it can also be a source of great distraction. While we don’t advise shunning social media completely, it is important to keep some distance. Checking your phone periodically while studying dramatically lowers your efficiency, and your sleeping time)
“Hang around people who are a positive influence.”
“Get off to a good start.”
Overall, going into IB will be a pretty big change for most people. Just keep in mind that it’s not so much about getting the highest grades as it is about being a well-rounded person. Hopefully, this article helped to demystify some aspects of the program, and will help you achieve success in the following years.