IB Tutor Interviews: Laura

Timothy Hoffmann

Tutor: Lara Rodriguez

IBDP score: 42

University: Economics, Politics and International Studies (2019), University of Warwick

Subjects: Economics, 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?

Lara: It is a highly recognised programme worldwide that offers a wide range of choices for subjects and flexibility within those subjects to meet your preferences (i.e. Standard level and Higher level).

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I enjoyed having the chance to study various subjects with an open or wide educational approach without exclusively focusing on one specific pathway. I was able to gain knowledge in diverse subjects like Biology, History and Economics, which was very enriching. In my opinion, this is a very positive thing that the IB offers, especially to students who do not have a clear idea on what they wish to pursue in university. The whole IB experience enables you to be a well-informed person with a much better and comprehensive idea about the different aspects of the world.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

I believe the most challenging part of the IB was being aware of and fully achieving all the different components that you are being marked on. I came to realise that it is extremely important to understand what the IB is expecting of you in each case to be able to work in the right direction and achieve the highest possible mark. Having to excel in all diverse areas, and not only in those that might be your strengths, to obtain the highest global IB scores was also challenging.

What did you do for your CAS/TOK/EE?

I was involved in a lot of different activities for my CAS (in fact, at some point my tutor recommended me to reduce their number and extent). Some of the activities were not new as I was continuing from previous years, such as dancing lessons and recitals, which I pursued on an almost professional level (i.e. we had long hours every week for rehearsals) and piano lessons (practice and theory) passing the corresponding ABRSM exams. I also began new activities, creating a project with some friends for the Inside Out Project. I also worked with a group of young children to fundraise for Get Your Dreams, an NGO, though various activities that included teaching them a dance to participate in a competition for the chance to increase our fundraising. I was even invited to speak in a school assembly with the theme “Exceptional CAS”.

I did my Extended Essay in English being my final essay title “How do food industry advertisers successfully sell their products as part of a healthier lifestyle?”. I enjoyed doing independent research, analyzing verbal and non-verbal components, and searching for the optimal wording to reflect my work and conclusions.

Why do you enjoy tutoring?

It is a very enriching experience for me because it is very satisfactory and rewarding to be able to help students achieve their goals. To be able to be a part of the progress and the build-up that leads the student to learn all about the subject and be successful in doing so, is a very gratifying experience. I also enjoy tutoring because I get to learn more about the subject myself and pass on my passion to the students.

What makes a successful tutor?

Someone who feels very comfortable with what she or he is teaching, and who appreciates and motivates students to ask questions, as this is what makes the student curious and confident in the subject. A successful tutor is always full of new ideas for the student to learn in the customised way they learn best.

Being patient with the students and understanding of their difficulties, always with the utmost kindness, and if appropriate even sense of humour, helps to create an environment in which the student feels good and will therefore absorb all new information in the best way.

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

Economics and languages, as they are the subjects I enjoyed the most during the IB and both continue being extremely important, and I continue to develop, in my everyday life.

What has been your greatest tutoring success?

Teaching students that had almost zero knowledge in Spanish to able to fluently speak, read and write with correct grammar and accurate accent.

What tips do you have for current IB students?

  • Know exactly what the IB expects from you in every different assignment and exam
  • Once you have finished covering all material needed for the subject, start revising from the very beginning and always try to make connections between chapters (when you have all the information, you can work back and forth with the book to really understand how it is all linked together)
  • Go beyond what is taught in class. Go to the sources, reviewing and studying the books and content of the subject, not only what your specific teacher has focused on, as the IB exams are standardised.

How did you organise your revision?

I made a schedule where I wrote down the days of my exams and distributed my workload around those days. I also completed a lot of past papers.

What are your best revision tips?

Something that really helped my studying, I believe, is studying on a specific day what I felt like studying that day and not forcing me to study a subject I was not in the mood for. This way, I found the information would stick in my mind faster and time would pass by faster because I would be enjoying it. Also, I tried using as many different study methods (draw diagrams, watch videos, read textbooks or books or articles, make notes, etc.) which made my studying more enjoyable and helped me find out which one(s) I learned best with.