First and foremost, the IB Physics course is tough one, particularly at Higher Level (HL). We regularly tutor students taking the IB Physics course who have come to us for extra lessons when they end up struggling, particularly if they didn’t love Physics in the first place.
Some say that because IB Physics get more 7s awarded than any other subject, students should not be put off from choosing it. However cynical it sounds, it is true that these high scores tend to be because schools do a good job advising students not to take the subject. This means they select the students they feel can last the whole course and not sink during the first year of the IB.
So, the answer is that it is hard to get a 7 but that shouldn’t stop you choosing the IB Physics Course (at HL or SL), if that is what you have set your mind on. Here we have talked to our top IB Physics tutors and IB Examiners to give you their tips for the best chance of success.
Tip 1 – Listen to your school counsellor
Only take IB Physics if you feel confident you will do well in the course. Your counsellor and teachers know you and the demands of the course. They have a good idea of a student’s ability to learn at the speed needed to get top points in this course. So, it is a good idea to take their advice on board.
Tip 2 – Take your IB Physics Course seriously from day one
To have a chance at getting maximum points in a tough subject like Physics, you will need to engage and work your hardest from the very start of the course.
This means taking responsibility for your own learning and making sure that if you don’t understand something you ask your teacher. Getting on top of all the course content as you go is important. This leaves the IB2 year largely for revision and exam practise. If you are still trying to understand the content from year 1 in your final year, then the chances of getting top points are much lower.
Always have the syllabus to hand. Then as you move through topics check you understand everything as you go. This will give you the confidence that there is nothing that will come up in the exam that you haven’t fully understood.
Tip 3 – Review your work step by step throughout the duration of the course
Each week review your IB Physics course material and ensure you understand what you have been taught. Then when you finish a topic review it all at once. This means that by the time you have got through the whole course in your second IB year, you will have already reviewed all content several times and tackled any tricky issues.
Tip 4 – Look for extra help when you get stuck
This sounds so obvious, but many students don’t do it. Ask your teacher for help with anything that is unclear. This shows that you are an engaged student and teachers appreciate this. If you still find you need some extra help, find a study buddy to learn with you. Or you can ask a Physics tutor for help here. Online forums are also a good way to work with other students on the tougher parts of the course. What is most important is that you don’t put off understanding what you have hit the roadblock on. If you do, it will come back to bite you in year two and you won’t have the time to devote to getting it right.
Tip 5 – Get the best mark possible for your IB Physics IA
With the exam disruption of recent times, there is every chance that your IA will be externally marked. It might also carry more weight than normal in the final exam. It is essential you prioritise getting the best possible mark. This means starting early, keeping up with the deadlines set by your teacher and making the most of their feedback.
So to get the best grade possible and reach for that magic 7, make sure you choose an IB Physics topic that you really enjoy. Perhaps it is one you have already got good data in and tweak it so you can use a similar approach in your IA. Make sure you have the equipment or resources available to you before you decide to dive in and don’t forget to check this at the very start with your Physics teacher.
By Sara Lloyd
Sara has been an education consultant for TutorsPlus for over 10 years and is an expert on international education in Switzerland. She is also a parent of two lively children.
If you would like to contact Sara to answer your education-related questions, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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