Countdown to IB Exams: A Guide to Effective Studying

Navam Thind
6 min read

As the IB exams approach, the stress and pressure to revise and study all the material for all subjects increases greatly. Many students struggle with the same challenge, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content to be covered and figuring out where to start, or how to stay organized.

Rather than studying random topics a week before the exam, this timeline-style article will help you effectively study for all your courses while actually retaining the information that you learn.

3-4 Months Remaining

Ideally, you should start revising for exams about 4 months in advance. This allows for sufficient time to plan out a study schedule which is equally important as studying itself, as well as having time to study for all your subjects. A few months before the exam, try to create a study plan that includes the following: the time that you plan to spend on each subject every day, topics that you want to cover each day, as well as daily or weekly goals that you hope to meet. To create this plan, work backwards, by writing down the date of your exams. From there, think about which topics you would like to get out of the day first, and which you are able to review closer to the exam days. As well, think about which subjects you want to spend more time on, or start studying for first, depending on your schedule. Be careful not to leave too much to do on the last few days before exams, and allow yourself some leeway in case you miss a few sessions.

Having said that, it is still extremely important to stick to your study plan, and consider what might happen if you don’t follow through. If you do miss one day, don’t beat yourself up over it and simply spend a little more time the next day, but don’t just skip the topic.

Make a note of any topics you particularly struggled with and plan to spend a little more time on them. Make sure you’re aiming to study regularly and not cramming every few days or weeks. It’ll be more difficult to retain information and stay motivated if you skip all week, but then spend the next 2 days studying for 15 hours. As well, you should gather some practice papers or prompts for your subject and start working on them.

1-2 Months Remaining

At this point, you should have a thorough understanding of the content of the courses you have been studying. Now, try to narrow your focus on topics that you are unconfident in, and keep reviewing them. Complete practice papers and really aim to gain an understanding of the markscheme and the way your answers should be structured. For essay based exams, do past papers or prompts and read past students examples to gain an understanding of what the examiners look for. Don’t just complete the practice exams, but make the most of them by placing yourself in an exam situation; time yourself and work in a silent space. Make use of all the resources you have access to, and ask your teachers for their advice on your strengths, weaknesses, and strategies you can use.

2 Weeks Remaining

At this time, I would recommend making any summary sheets for general notes and ideas, or topics that you struggle with. Review any important formulas that may not be on the formula booklets and focus on consolidating knowledge rather than learning new information.

1 Week Remaining

One week before your exams, your studying and revising should be finished or coming to an end. If there is any clarification that is needed on any of the topics that will be in the exams, this is the last time to discuss with your teachers. As well, this is the last time to revise any minor details that still need some review. Prepare your materials and review all the dates and locations of the exams, so there is no confusion on the exam days.

1 Day Remaining

The day before your exams, I would not recommend doing any heavy studying or revision.

This is the time to look over and read your summary sheets that you made a while ago. Try to keep your screen time minimal and go to sleep early to have a restful night. This will ensure that you have sufficient energy during the day for your exams. My most important piece of advice is to stay positive! Whatever doubts you have, just remember; you studied hard and tried your best, so the outcome will be a reflection of your hard work!

Bonus: After The Exam

After the exam is over, you might be overwhelmed and there might be many different thoughts running through your head, about all the questions and your answers. Do some reflection on what you did well, and one thing you thought you could do better on, whether it be time management or writing concise answers. However, do not dwell too much on

details, such as the questions you think you answered wrong, or how your results will not be as good as you predicted. Try to do some relaxing activities after, such as reading a book, eating some comforting food or simply taking a nap.


Following this guide will help you study to the best of your abilities and achieve your personal IB goals. While we all have our ups and downs, our good and bad days, I cannot emphasize how important it is to bounce back after a day of burn out, or demotivation. Stay resilient, keep persevering and remember that consistently putting in your best effort is what will help you achieve success.