GroverCleveland wrote:So I've generally been pretty laid back in my previous school years, but this year, entering into the IB diploma program, I feel like I have said goodbye to any possibility of free time ever again. I'm taking 4 IB HL classes, Physics, Chemistry, Math, and English, with SL Business, and Spanish, not to mention Theory of Knowledge and a fairly rigorous Phys. Ed. class, as well as performing in the high school play, building a company and marketing a product for Young Enterprise, learning to play the guitar, and trying to squeeze playing tennis every once in a while as well. So I was wondering if anyone had any tips as to time management, speedy techniques to get schoolwork done, or any other tricks to gain some free time, because I haven't played a video game in a week, and I haven't had a day off to myself for the last 3 weekends.
Or, if you want to tell me how good I have it, you can post a story about how little free time you have right now, as it is always helpful and funny to read other people's stories about this kind of stuff.
Okay, so I am in basically the exact same situation: HL math, english and physics; i put chem to SL at the last minute, plus SL french and anthropology. I'm a senior so done with ToK, varisty tennis was like a serious phys ed class, have a nonprofit I'm building and working with another big one in my area where I had a leadership role, and have 2 independent study hours. I have zeroth to eighth hour and live a half hour drive from school.
Step one: Expect you will loose some free time, and when I say some, I mean all. You might not, but you also might, and it's better to end up with extra time than be up at four in the morning. You will never have a day to yourself. Eh, you actually probably will, but don't expect them. You'll need to fit 'me time' in between homework.
Step two: Acknowledge you have a lot of work to do. I'm going to talk a little bit about that work in a way only an IB kid can, and also poke suggestions about how to fix it, but my main goal for step two is just to explain the volume and texture of work.
A possible difference between you and I is that my IB program is established, some 40 years old. Basically, that means everything is down to a science and teachers know what they should do, from big assignment schedules to break days. Being in IB is awesome for exactly one reason (yes, there is one!): All of the teachers know what it means to be in IB, more or less. So if you have a shitton of homework and you can feel some big business homework, tell your teacher. Complain. It sounds like cheating but they -get- it, and nothing feels like cheating after the programme
Also, it's the only way it's going to get better for yourself and future IBers.
For your essay, if it's not being heavily facilitated by the ToK class, you should get on that yourself. Your essay should be done in your junior year, ESPECIALLY if you're waiting on your world literature assignments in English for senior year. You do NOT want to be doing EE and WL at the same time because not only is the workload retarded but also the styles of writing are completely different. WL2 is a lot easier than WL1 because there's more choice, which means fewer topics to compete around, which is always good (in case you don't know, all WL topics from the same school must be on topics different enough that IB can ensure you are not cheating; your teacher will tell you this when you get there because it falls back on them if they don't)
When I say facilitate your essay, I mean lay out plans for all your research to be done by the monday after break, your first draft to be finished 15 February, to make an appointment with your advisor for the 20th, etc. You will have a ToK essay as the internal assessment, and that is written roughly in the same way EE is, unless you do it in English. Still, doing both at the same time is rough, so you might take the summer time to do the extended essay if that is an option.
One thing you will vastly underestimate is the amount of effort you will spend on college applications. No matter how much work you think you're going to do, you're going to do more. This is a fact of life for anyone who cares enough to be in IB. If you're doing Group 4 projects in december of senior year THEY WILL NOT GET DONE if you still have college apps to finish, and then you really are running up against the clock. Literally, be doing them during the summer, especially if your school still thinks you can do all the stuff you need for IB in senior year. I didn't take that advice and I am paying for it big time right now.
The earlier you can do Group 4s, the better. My chem one is finished but we don't know enough physics to do that one yet and I can feel it looming over me and it sucks. They aren't hard, but they are pretty time consuming (esp if you get no class time) and you have to coordinate with other people who also have ridiculous schedules. They are your science internal assessments, so breathe a sigh of relief. While we're on nonstandard IAs, the WLs are half of your english IA, and 20% of your overall English score. The other part of English is the oral, which is over poetry that you are expected to know well by the time you have it on the test. This is another one of those things that your teacher will make sure you do, so be prepared for poetry every day and half of the nights in English for at least a semester.
Math, spanish, and history have standard 'write a paper about X' style IAs. Business may have that but we don't have it at my school so I'm ignorant. The foreign languages have some flexibility in IA style, but generally it's too much teacher-work to make other things inside the guidelines, so expect a short essay assignment. Of course, since it's second language, it will still take longer than a four page english paper (you have gotten to the point where all your papers are more than 2 pages MLA, right? If not, that happens, be ready)
Step three: You will stay up late sometimes. In fact, there will be nights when you don't sleep at all. There should not be more than 3/month; if there are you're doing it wrong and need to seek more serious help. 1ish/month is standard senior year, much less junior year. You need to be comfortable with working at 3. It's a very different experience than working at 1 or 11.
Step four: CALM DOWN. It's going to be okay. While I am being facetious, one thing to seriously not stress about is the final exams. In case you haven't done the math yet, the college of your dreams can't turn you away based on your exam scores because they are top secret until at least June, at which point every college ever will have made their decision about their upcoming class. Also, if the English is done right, and by that I mean really hard, the exam that matters most will be a very easy 5 with basically a guarantee of a 4. And finally, if you want college credit, do AP. IB is a college -prep- course. It's meant to simulate the academic experience, not give you brownie points. You will dance circles around AP kids in college, and you will also laugh
Step five: Time management is essential. The ultimate goal of time management, and the tips I'll give you, is first to not have to do as much homework at home, second to not have to do as much after midnight. Everyone has their own methods of management, but you should really do at least these things:
BUY AN EFFING PLANNER. Every single person at my school who was in IB on 2 August who won't be on 25 May, did not have a planner that they used. You can't honestly expect to remember all the homework you have and its relationships to the long term projects and the longer term IB assignments. Buy one that works. Don't write in it at a set time; write the assignments as your teacher tells it. Check it every night immediately before you do any work. Never assume. That's how you forget spanish worksheets three nights in a row.
Figure out when you're eating, during school. It's easy to lose way too much time on this. While we're on food: bring your lunch, and don't ever eat lunch at lunch. That is at least thirty solid minutes of worktime that you literally waste by sitting outside eating and waiting in line for food. If your friends are distracting, find a cool teacher and work in their room. Eat some other time. And for God's sake, don't leave campus if it's not going back home to pick up homework you forgot. Driving time, line waiting... the loss of time involved in open campus eating should make you scream.
Figure out when you're showering, and stick to it. Before school? Cool. Is that before or after breakfast (if applicable)? After school? Is that before homework, after homework, after dinner, before bed, what? What if you have an all-nighter? What if you have an almost all-nighter; is it better to shower or sleep for forty minutes? Schedules are your friend when it comes to basic bodily functions, because you can't just let them slide. And they will if you let them.
Own (or borrow) a car, but if don't use it if you can avoid it. You really should have a car within reach, because going places without your parents is something you're going to enjoy with your more regimented lifestyle. The problem is, if you're driving you can't work, or sleep. I had a teacher do the half hour long drives both ways to and from school for the last three years, and the toll of not having that extra hour of sleep every day is very obvious. When I'm sitting in traffic my thoughts are always "I have poetry I could be doing, or I could do anthro, or that last problem on the physics sheet, or..." You might need public transportation. Even if it's so slow you have to wake up a half hour earlier, so? That's a half hour of work! Go to bed earlier if you need the recharge badly (see step six)
Learn how much time you spend procrastinating. Do you wait for three days left for that english paper or until three o'clock? If you have to do research on wikipedia, how much time do you spend sidetracked? You should know these things. Don't prevent yourself from knowing because you're ashamed. Procrastination in IB is about finding time for yourself, and everyone needs it, even if only a little (or a lot, as the case may be). For instance, I know that every weeknight (sun-thurs) I watch the Day daily. I also know that I can count on at least an hour of wiki/xkcd time every day, normally a lot more. But because I know that, I know how to set up my work time so that I can still get to bed at a good hour, usually. And I can say, oh, I've spent two hours on tvtropes (damn tvtropes), that's way too much.
Divide your entertainment and your work between consuming and non-consuming. Gaming is consuming entertainment. Good movies are consuming entertainment. You have to engage your mind as well as your senses. English essays are consuming work. French sheets are not consuming work, french chapter readings are. For me, math is non-consuming. For me, day9 is not consuming, but websites where I read (cracked, wiki, tvtropes, forums.xkcd) are. Then, when you do that (and get depressed about how limited your entertainment really is), commit them to memory, or write them down in your planner. Do non-consuming work during non-consuming entertainment. I know that day9 is math time. I do both, laugh at the jokes and occasionally pause to listen to a strategy, and also get my math done.
And again, BUY THAT EFFING PLANNER.
Step six: This is a hard one for most IB students. Learn to min-max your grades. I regularly don't do anthropology because I know she doesn't mark late unless it's very late. I don't do physics work usually because we do a lot of it in class, but I always do late physics work because it's a zero after the week is over. And sometimes I just don't turn things in. I have an anthro assignment I have no intention of ever turning in, because it's too much work for not enough points and I have a 96%. In English I had a C so I did every extra-credit she offered, even though I lost a lot of time to do other things (and even less because I worked harder at regular English work). Sometimes four hours of sleep is worth a 10% ding, even on a big essay. A lot of math teachers don't check the work, just for completion: if you know the material feel free to fudge the answers or make enormous leaps of logic.
However, this is a psychology tip. You are less likely to be motivated to do late work. I'm not really sure why, but the urge to say screw it is so overwhelming, even if there's nothing else to do. If late work is part of your min-max strategy, you need to take this into account and actively combat it.
Don't be a dick in class, because if you have an 88.7% and you tell your teacher you really need an A, your teacher might recognize that you've worked and weren't a dick. If you were, they probably will give you the metaphorical finger. Being on good terms with teachers is a vital part of min-maxing. You can't do without it, really. Also, having this good relationship will make them more receptive when you suggest date changes and whine about workload.
Also, remember your final exams are a massive part of your grade that never gets factored in until it's too late. There's no damage control for a bombed final, just prevention. For instance, I know my French exam is going to go pretty badly, so I'm working for a 96% where most classes I'm fine with a 92%.
I'm not going to tell you outright that it's okay to copy. But... well... it's not always a bad option, especially in subjects that you already know well and the work is more an annoyance than anything else. Ultimately, your goal at school should be to learn, and if you have to do busy work to get into a place where you can learn better, it's hard to argue that that should take away from homework time where you actually learn something. Of course, if it goes one way, it goes both ways. But from my experience, if it doesn't go one way, most people won't try and force it the other. What I will tell you is okay under any circumstances except essays but including short answer assignments is talking about the work and talking about where to find answers in long passages, etc. History last year was a great example of a class where almost nobody cheated outright, but there was a ton of collaboration. (Collaboration, especially for trivial things, is generally encouraged in college - from someone who is taking independent study math from MIT)
Step seven: If you don't have a good relationship with one of your parents, befriend a teacher or a guidance councilor. Actually, befriend a guidance councilor anyway for the college benefits. But what I was going at, because you need to have someone who is older than you to hear you. It's one thing to talk to your friends, but a lot of times they'll try to make you feel better by telling you all the stuff that they have to do, which doesn't work. Remember, your friends are working as hard as you, and at least one of them probably has a job on top of it all.
Step eight: Be flexible, when you can afford it. The ultimate paradox of IB is that you have to be extremely rigid 80% of the time and completely open to spontaneity the other 20%. The hard part is figuring out which 20 will keep your grade alive.
For you specifically, don't worry about CAS. Talk to your councilor or director about making your company, or Young Enterprise into your project, and you'll fill out the rest easily with guitar, the non-project, tennis, NHS (please do be in NHS, normally you don't even have to do anything once you're in). Try to join like the spanish club or something worthless like that. It might not be good for your resume because it's obvious filler, but for CAS it's not so bad.
I'm still at the stage where I don't have to study much, but when I do, I count it as consuming work. It's really too dangerous to do it at the same time as something else. Also, don't study for anything you know. Seriously. If you're doing it right, studying should be the most time-intensive assignment you have that night, and you can't afford to lose all that time if you already know it. However, you should always look at notes* just before the test; only as a review, though. Try not to cram during lunch; it rarely works.
*There are two prevailing schools of thought on notes: Mine is write everything. Well, there are some important qualifications, but I mostly fall into the everything camp. However, several of my friends use classes with a more lenient teacher to do other homework. I think it's a very solid idea, and what you lose in study material (which then raises time spent studying), you gain in combining work into the workday. I think I would be more productive if I did this, given that I don't have to study as much, but I have a hard time ignoring most of my teachers (except this one...). If you need to study, you might want to use that time to make notes more detailed.
Meem is right, by the way. You need to keep your eyes peeled for short periods of intense activity in one area when you should expect all others to stop. This should be easier if you use that planner of yours (see what i did there).
Number one rule: Don't take BS from anyone. Your teachers can move deadlines if there are big problems. Nothing AT ALL gets sent to IB until sometime mid senior year, regardless of what your director might insist. So if you don't finish your World Lit on Jan 26, you might lose credit in English but you're not going to be screwed overall. Your administration might require you to take x classes in your senior year. If you don't need that many, demand an exception. Do not do things that hurt your worktime for no reason. It's too precious, because 24 - sleep - work - bullshit = free time. You can't do anything about sleep, nor much about work, but you have a surprising degree of control over bullshit, especially if you get your parents involved.
Hope it helps
FYI: This post is about 3200 words, which probably isn't anywhere near a record for xkcd, but is in the same strata as how long your extended essay should be. You really should try to hit the cap, though. It just looks a lot nicer.