IB Tutor Interviews: Andres

Timothy Hoffmann

Tutor: Andres Olivares del Campo

IBDP score: 39

University: PhD Particle Physics, Durham University

Subjects: Maths, Physics, Spanish

In our Tutor Interview series we put the spotlight on members of our outstanding tutoring team. From IB graduates to teachers and Examiners, we share their stories and their advice about the International Baccalaureate to help you make your own IB a success.

EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Andres: Before I did the IB, I had always followed the Spanish curriculum. I wanted to do a programme that challenged me, and gave me the opportunity to go beyond the syllabus, to explore the areas I was more interested in and to give me an education that was not only based on an academic curriculum. The IB checked all those boxes and it was therefore the best option!

What did you enjoy about the IB? 

The thing I enjoy the most about the IB was the amazing teachers I had. IB teachers are often passionate and believe in the IB philosophy. I was lucky enough to have teachers that were always willing to go beyond what was required of them to help me understand things, even going beyond the syllabus. Moreover, although painful at the time, I think the IAs and the EE were a very fun part of the IB since they gave me the opportunity to focus on some particular aspects of many different subjects and explore ideas in an original way. For example, for my Philosophy IA I took the lyrics of a Spanish rap song as the starting point of an essay about free will and determinism!

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

I think the hardest part of the IB was to balance out all the workload from the different subjects, CAS, TOK and EE, together with university applications and having a social life! One needs to learn how to manage their time well, specially when it comes to working on the IAs since the deadlines tend to me around the same time of the year and trying to finish everything at the same time can be quite overwhelming.

What did you do for your CAS and EE?

For my CAS I did lots of activities. I was very lucky to attend a school that offered many different social services. Among them, I was the coordinator of an activity called “High School Science” that provided students in rural India with the material and supervision they needed to conduct the sciences experiments required by their syllabus. I also coordinated a campus service called “Lights and Sounds” which provided my peer students with the technical support they required for their plays and musical performances. I was also a Mathematics tutor, played basketball, taekwondo, gave occasional violin performances and was part of the fire-fighting team that made sure fires did not spread around the campus! During my first year of IB (when I had more time) I also attended an orphanage weekly where we organised games for HIV positive kids.

For my TOK I chose to answer the question, How important are the opinions of experts in the search for knowledge?, which made me reflect about different subjects and ways of learning. We also did a group presentation about perception, first impressions and how we judge people according to the way they look.

Finally, I wrote my EE on Physics, the subject I pursued at university. I decided to study the deflection of a beta particle by a magnetic field, I conjectured a relationship between the field strength and the magnitude of the deflection and designed an experiment to test my hypothesis.

Do you have any tips for current IB students?

I would recommend them to start early with as many things as they can. As sad as it might sound, the summer between first and second year is a great opportunity to progress as much as you can with your university applications, IAs, EE and TOK essay. This effort you make during the summer will buy you invaluable extra time during your second year to improve your predicted grades and prepare you for your IB exams.

Why do you enjoy tutoring?

I love to share my passion for Maths and Physics with other people who are interested in them. I also like helping people and it is very rewarding when a student finally gets something that he/she was struggling with. I had amazing teachers at high school that really inspired me and fueled my passion for Physics and Mathematics, so I believe a teacher can make a real difference on a student’s life.

What makes a successful tutor?

I think the key to be a successful tutor is to prepare your lessons well. If you know what the message you want to get across is, the  relevant exercises to show that message and how to structure a particular section of the syllabus, the lessons will go well. It is also important to be enthusiastic about what you teach and to be able to adapt to each student, as people learn in different ways and have different interests.

What are the favourite aspects of the IB to teach and why?

While I really like teaching Mathematics, I really love to teach the most abstract physical ideas that students often find difficult to relate with. For example, waves, nuclear or particle physics are sections of the syllabus which can be very far from our daily life experiences and one needs to find original ways to relate them to the students.

What has been your greatest tutoring success?

I think that one of my greatest successes was actually my first online student. She was doing Physics HL with Maths Studies and was taking her Physics resists in November because she had failed the subject in May. We worked a lot on paper practice, which was challenging with her level of Mathematics and, even though her final scored was a 4, I was very happy with all that she achieved and learned in a very short period of time.