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I Am Failing My IB Classes


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Hello. I have just started IB this year and I am having so much trouble with my Group 2, 4, and 5 classes. Here are the classes I'm taking:

Group 1: HL English Lit A

Group 2: SL French B

Group 3: SL History

Group 4: HL Chemistry

Group 5: SL AA Math

Group 6: HL Biology

I am doing well with my group 1, 3, and 6 classes. It is my group 2, 4, and 5 classes that I'm struggling a lot with. I'll go in that order.


I used to do really well in French class in elementary and middle school. However, I would argue that I began falling behind in high school since none of my teachers prepared me well enough for those classes. My biggest weaknesses are in listening since none of my teachers gave us listening tests and speaking since they didn't force us to speak in class either before high school. There were multiple instances where I would do a test and think that I did really well, only to get it back and learn that I failed. In fact, I got a C in French when I got my first report card this year. I have never gotten anything lower than a B before (well, except in business last year, but that was my own fault).


In chem, I can not understand any concepts in that class. My teacher is awful at teaching and sounds like she was done teaching kids ages ago and just wants to get it over with. She said multiple times that she goes through the material the way she is so she can cover every material that IB has to provide, but she doesn't try to make us understand the material. I regret taking chemistry. I took it because I thought it would be fun and it was my strongest areas in science in grade 9 and 10. But not anymore. I'm screwing up a lot of tests and labs and idk what to do. And that was just in stoich, smth that I heard from a peer that said that "stoich is strictly speaking the simplest unit in chem". Just, aughh


And now math. Where do I begin? I peaked in grade 9, with it being my strongest class and I thought about taking it as one of my HLs since it was my favourite along with science and my strongest class. But last year, thanks to a crappy school model in response to the pandemic, my math grades dropped and so I took it as an SL. However, this year, I am doing awful. I am falling behind (partly thanks to a less-crappy-but-still-crappy-school-model-of-this-year) and I am not okay. It's even worse since idk if y'all go/went to CB or at least have some knowledge in the Ontario curriculum, but universities there look at your grade 12 credits and, depending on the program, you have to earn a certain grade in order to be eligible for the program. I have to get A's in Advanced Functions and Calculus and Vectors courses if I want to get into the programs that I want. SL AA IB 1 math counts as an advanced functions course since they have the same course code and I can't get into the program I want if I can't do well this year.


Please help:(

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Let me address your issues one-by-one. 

From what I gather, in French, your main issues are in auditory and oral examinations. It seems as though you haven't had enough practice hearing and speaking French with others. A few things could be done to alleviate this. Try listening to podcasts and French radio channels to understand. Watch YouTube channels for help in listening. Also, considering you live in Canada, perhaps you could visit the French part or maybe have some French friends around there? I don't know. Whatever you do, make sure you practice your French orals with someone since that is a heavily assessed assessment in IB. For me, I went from 4 to 6 in French simply by listening to podcasts, practicing speaking with my sister (who gets very high 7s in Ab Initio despite only starting French a year ago). The thing is, you need minimal understanding of French grammar to gain proficiency in speaking and listening. Of course, you need to know basic tenses, but you can easily get the gist of what someone is saying by knowing the vocabulary and expressions, along with prior experience of listening to others speak.

For chemistry, a lot of teachers tend to be bad. I don't know why, but that's the way it is. I watch Richard Thornley for IB Chemistry, and you should to. He's the number one recommended channel to watch for chemistry help in IB, and for good reason too. He's a brilliant teacher and your understanding could be improved by him. A good tip for the IB is that you should expect to do a hell of a lot of self-learning. Listening to the teachers in class/relying on them could end up in you getting bad grades and doubting your own abilities, for little fault of your own. The best students learn by themselves. With the internet, it's pretty damn easy to learn by yourself. Also, for chemistry, do lots of questions and practice with the concepts everyday. Practice with another student who you know is good at the subject. The same goes for maths. 

Now, moving onto maths. I do maths AA HL and it is by no means "easy", despite me always being much further ahead in maths than others. Despite this, I get 7s regularly due to lots of practice. 

Let me tell you something about maths: it is almost completely self-taught. Don't get me wrong; a good teacher can really help clarify a concept, but more often than not, I find that maths teachers are little help. I learnt almost all the maths I know from the internet. Teachers nowadays simply assign textbook questions and appear to help you solve the questions if you're stuck, but very few actually invest time in teaching a concept. A good university professor from say MIT would spend a good amount of time on concepts before actually touching problems, but high school has a very dogmatic and stupid approach to mathematics which leaves students unsatisfied.

Often, in maths, when a good student drops (this often happens after grade 9), it is due to conceptual difficulty. Without understanding concepts, it is futile to attempt problems. So make sure you watch those YouTube videos. I'd recommend looking up videos that target areas and concepts that you are covering. I'm assuming you're in DP1, so you'll likely cover functions, series, and trigonometry in the year. These 3 can be quite challenging since it is a radical shift from your old non-IB maths curriculum. But you have to suck it up and get used to it, because this is real maths. So watch plenty of lectures, videos, and conceptual things to understand why you're doing the maths. Just a tip: don't take notes. I never did, and I don't even think it is needed. Just recalling concepts by practicing problems is enough.

Now I'll talk a little about practice in maths. For maths, practice is one of the most important things to build strength. I recommend Revision Village and IB Past Papers. Often, you don't need more than this. If you're still unconfident about your ability, you can attempt those repetitive drills from your textbook. Keep doing a certain amount of problems a day in a topic of focus, and you'll master that topic. Make sure you do past papers, because that is what the IB assesses, not repetitive textbook drills. 

I understand that the pandemic can be very detrimental to work ethic, but you have to keep learning and doing things by yourself if you want to excel. You will find that YouTube is a great ally when used productively, and Revision Village, IBO publishing, and other internet resources, can often outmatch the average teacher. 

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By reading your previous posts, I understand that you're under a lot of pressure from your parents to perform well. If you absolutely want to continue with IB, and nothing is going to deter your choice, then you have to sit down, ignore them, and work hard. 

And remember: don't ever rely on your teachers. 

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