More Tips for Triumphing over Testing Tribulations

In this edition of Student Blogs, we speak with rising Year 13 IB student Gianna Chun Cheok Tong. Gianna offers some key advice for students beginning their IB careers and how to deal with the academic pressures that these classes bring.

Please introduce yourself.

I am Gianna Chun Cheok Tong from Year 12 and I have been at this school since 2002. I enjoy photography, specifically portrait photography, and I am constantly trying to create new projects or models to shoot with. The portability of photography is an aspect I really appreciate, as there is always a beautiful scene at every corner. I also love to cook, whether it is for myself or for others. I think cooking has such a creative process that it is truly free; I am not a big fan of recipes and enjoy the messy, chaotic process of exploring food and flavor.

What subjects or exams do you find most challenging?

The subjects I find the most challenging are math and economics, simply because these two subjects require the most repetition and memorization. The only way to succeed in math is to practice over and over again, the process is extremely time consuming and I often find myself reluctant to do it. Economics on the other hand is more memorization. There are a multitude of different graphs that are similar but completely different, equations, theories and so on. Math and economics also both share a common factor that makes it the most challenging for me: straightforwardness. In contrast, in math and economics the answer is either clearly right or wrong, there is no grey zone, resulting in them being much more challenging.


What do you find most stressful or difficult about the test-taking process?

In the whole test-taking process I find studying to be the hardest. I have a very difficult time concentrating on one subject for an extended period of time. My appalling memory, along with procrastination means the studying period gives me much more stress than it should. It often takes all of my willpower to sit and start studying, and even so, I often end up zoning out, staring into space in my own world. However, changing this habit is crucial to my studies, especially since I am taking IB.

What resources are available to help you prepare for the exams?

I personally believe the most useful resource that is available to help prepare for exams is the Internet. Nevertheless, everything that is found should be taken with a grain of salt and making sure to check for reliability through website domains, authors, as well as the published date. There are many online communities or websites designated for specific programs or subjects, simple questions that you think the teacher already addressed multiple times will be answered quickly.

Other than going online, the most evident resource would be your teachers and friends. Teachers will often have the most accurate and up to date resources. They are also more than willing to help when students have specific questions or about areas that are unclear. Friends are also a great resource, as you know they do not judge; it lessens the fright of “will he/she belittle me if I ask such an easy question.”

Describe some of the strategies you use to cope with exam pressures. Do you have any special or unique rituals you use to help relieve stress?

As I have a strong passion for cooking and it is completely unrelated to school, I will often cook a dish to wind down and relieve stress. Whether it is complicated or easy, doing something I truly love always takes my mind off stress. It is vital to find at least one thing you love that cannot be tainted or changed by school, so when faced with school related stress, the one passion can be what you use to help alleviate this stress.

How do you plan to celebrate the end of the exam season?

Since I usually try to eat healthier during exam week, when it is all over I reward myself by eating something decadent like chocolate cake. After gorging myself on food, as I tend to subconsciously eat less during exam season, I will fall into deep sleep. Students with horrible procrastination will be able to fully appreciate how amazing it feels to be able to crash and fall asleep at 5pm on the last day of exam season, especially after all-nighters and mini naps.

What advice do you have for students getting ready to enter the IB Diploma Programme at YCIS Beijing?

My advice is to brace yourself. The IB Diploma Programme is completely different from any year levels done before. All the jokes about IB being difficult and time consuming are not jokes, they are completely accurate. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to succeed in IB, and although it may take time, a few months even, to get back on track, in the end it's your own mentality and mindset that will push through.

It is also important to remember to keep an open mind. Universities don’t just want to see good academic results, they also want to see risk taking skills and involvement in extracurricular activities. Although grades are indeed important, every aspect of work takes a fair share of the IB Diploma Programme.

school logo