Although the summer holidays are a great time to relax and take a break from school, they can also be very useful to set you up for a successful year. In this article, you can read what we recommend you to do when you move from Y11 into Y12 (entering your first year of IB) and what to do moving from Y12 to Y13 (first to second year of IB) to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Remember, all of these are simply our suggestions after going through the IB. You could choose to just do a couple from the list, all of them, or none at all -- these are in no way necessary to success but can really help take some of the stress away from IB (in our experience).
Y11 to Y12
Check your IGCSE grades (if you took them) and compare them to your chosen IB subjects: did you get a low grade in a subject you want to take HL? Did you end up scoring really highly on a subject you were going to drop? These considerations could end up modifying your choice of IB subjects so that you make sure you are academically prepared for your IB classes.
Look up universities and make a preparatory list. Include both “reach” universities (universities that you would really like to go to, but might not have the grades) and “safety” universities (universities that you are fairly sure will accept you). Keep in mind that this list could change after you get your IB predicted grades, because it is very difficult to foresee how well you are going to do.
Research clubs, activities and research opportunities in your school. Getting involved in them since the beginning of Y12 could give you something to write about in your personal statement (UK), your college essay (US) and can help fulfill CAS requirements.
Start thinking about ideas for your Extended Essay -- which subject would you like to do it? Do you already have any passions or interests that could fare well in a research paper? Keep in mind how well you are performing in the subject and who your supervisor might be.
SATs: If you want to apply to the US, this summer is a great time to start preparing for your SATs. If possible, we recommend signing up for the December SATs to get them out of the way. If you feel you need more time to prepare, March SATs are a great time to do them as well.
Think about the way that you wrote notes and studied in IGCSE / your previous exams. How was it? Do you think it was the most effective way to study and write notes? Consider the problems you had: maybe you found it really annoying to have to write your notes out by hand -- in IB you could attempt to write them out using a computer. Or maybe you found that in biology, it was really hard and time consuming to try to draw diagrams on your computer -- you might want to switch to hand written notes for IB.
Talk to the people in Y12, who are going into Y13. Text them any questions you may have, about which subjects are particularly hard, or really interesting. You can also ask which teachers are the best, which topic they recommend you do your EE, how you should manage your time… It’s also a great way to connect with them so that you have a connection when you start the IB, to help you with your IAs and other problems you may have.
Y12 to Y13
Revise your university list. After having gotten your predicted grades, you can compare them to universities to make a more accurate list of safety, average and reach universities which you want to apply to.
Look up university requirements. If you are applying to the UK, you might need to sign up for the STEP, the MAT or any other exams they require. If you are applying to the US, you should check whether they require the SATs and any additional SAT Subject Tests.
Finish the first draft of your EE. If you haven’t started it yet, then you should at least have your research question, the subject you’re taking it in and a detailed plan. Doing this now will save you time and effort during Y13 which could greatly help you.
Write your college essays. For the UK, you only need to write one personal statement. For the US, there are lots of essays which you need to write -- even more incentive to get them out of the way during summer so you are free during Y13.
Think about your IAs. Many schools choose to do IAs in early Y13, so it’s a great idea to have a list of IA ideas ready for each subject. Try to have more than one in case your initial idea is unfeasible.
Plan your CAS Project. If you have not done your CAS project yet, the summer is a great time (over a month) to complete it. It will be very useful to have this out of the way.
Relax! Make sure you’re rested for the new year and enjoy your holidays.
Hope this helps! If you need any individual advice, you can always ask on the forum.