IB Tutor Interviews: Javier

Timothy Hoffmann

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.

Tutor: Javier
IBDP score: 41
University: The University of Edinburgh; Brown
Subjects: Chemistry, Biology, ESS

EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Javier: I chose to do the IB because its curriculum forms students that are actively engaged with their learning and encourages them to think critically. For me, it was very important to be challenged in the classrooms, rather than being forced to memorise concepts pointlessly. Additionally, as a prospective biology student, it was crucial for me to learn how to plan, conduct, and report a research project, which is central in all IB science subjects. Furthermore, from its design, the IB strives to promote intercultural understanding and environmental awareness, which are values very important to me.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

When I did the IB, I really enjoyed having the freedom to shape my high school education the way I wanted to, and at the same time, having the guidance of a very strong curriculum and well-prepared teachers. The IB syllabi allowed me to study in depth the subjects I wanted, and to focus my assignments on the topics I felt the most passionate about. For my Extended Essay, I further explored an idea that was especially interesting to me, and outside the classroom, I became very involved in CAS activities that caught my interest. Because of this, I was always fully engaged with all my classes and my extra curricular activities, and I enjoyed all that I was doing.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

The most challenging part of the IB for me was to efficiently manage my time to complete my assignments on a timely manner, revise difficult concepts throughout the semester, and participate in my CAS activities. The IB is a very rigorous curriculum that pushes students to excel in their studies. Nevertheless, time management is a skill that students must also work on developing in order to thrive in the IB.

Additionally, studying for the final exams is a significant challenge. Revising two years worth of subject content requires a great amount of planning in order to arrive to the exams feeling well prepared.

What did you do for your CAS and EE?

My CAS activities were central to my IB experience, as they complemented the academic formation I received in the classrooms. For my creation activity, I led the school’s guitar club and performed in various events in the course of the two years; for my action activity, I coordinated the tennis club; and for my service activity I helped teaching computer skills to adults in rural India, and taught English to orphan kids in the village nearby my school.

For my Theory of Knowledge Essay and Presentation, I discussed a Persian proverb that says that “Doubt is the key to knowledge”, arguing that moderate questioning and the seeking of answers are the bases of human’s quest for knowledge. Nevertheless, excessive doubt can also lead to insecurity and lack of conclusions, which hinder the creation of new knowledge.

My Extended Essay explored the role of the Mexican government in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Mexico.

Do you have any tips for current IB students?

My main advice for IB students is to always do work ahead and to never leave their work for the last minute. I strongly believe that the IB requires student to be constantly revising difficult concepts and to practice solving IB-style questions on a regular basis. Studying for the IB must be a constant process rather than a single event that happens a few weeks before the final exams. The same idea applies for assignments, which require a lot of dedication and hard work done over weeks or months, and not the night before it is due.