When you’ve started studying seriously, it’s tempting to tell yourself, “I’ll just read the textbook then figure out what I need to know for the exams.” While this is the easiest way to think about studying, it’s not very effective. You’ll end up working way harder than you need to. Let’s look at a more systematic approach.
In the previous post on getting started I suggested opening your book and reading the first Chapter. That was just to get you started. But now you’re really ready, I’ll explain how you can study smarter, not harder by working backwards.
Working backwards means figuring out first what you need to know, then studying to make sure you know it. I would begin with Paper One SAQs. Start a clean page of notes and write down what you know about Paper One. Then watch the videos linked below starting with the “Paper One Quick Review.” Take notes as you’re watching on the following questions:
- How many questions do I answer?
- What type of answers should I write? (e.g. multiple choice, short answer, essays).
- What topics are covered?
This should give you a good idea of what you need to know and how much for each topic.
Here are some video tutorials that cover the exam requirements:
- Paper One Quick Review
- How to study for Paper One (SAQs)
- How to study for Paper One (Essays)
- Paper Two Quick Review
- How to study for Paper Two
- Paper Three Quick Review
After watching the above videos and taking notes, you’ll learn some important tips that will reduce how much you have to study. For example, you’ll see that in Paper One you don’t need to revise all three approaches for the essays, only one. This dramatically cuts down on the studies to remember. Similarly, you’ll learn that for Paper Two you only need to prepare one topic from the three for each option, again cutting down the content to study. This will allow you to spend longer on each topic and gain a deeper understanding of them which will lead to higher marks.
So grab a pen and paper, watch the tutorials and figure out exactly what you need for the exams. Now you know what you need to know, it’s time to go and revise it!
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.