IB Tutor Interviews: Puck

Timothy Hoffmann

Tutor: Puck van Gerwen

IBDP score: 44

University: BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Materials Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, First class.

     PhD Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science, University of Oxford, unfinished.

     MSc Theory and Simulation of Materials, Imperial College London, in progress.

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.

Why did you choose to do the IB?

I didn’t necessarily choose to do the IB as it was the only option available at my international school, but nevertheless I would choose to do it again if I had the choice. Having to take 2 languages, a technical subject, a humanity, and other specified subjects provides a great base for university study, unlike the narrow focus of systems like UK A-levels. Alongside the opportunities for breadth, the IB provides great opportunities for depth and specialisation in the desired field of study, for example by choosing further mathematics. I studied chemistry and was much better prepared having taken maths HL compared to my classmates having done A-levels and Scottish Highers. I also was much better at writing essays and lab reports. This suggested to me that the IB was the best system to prepare students for university study.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I really enjoyed the breadth of subjects I was allowed to study. I knew I wanted to study a science subject, but also loved reading and analysing literature, and studying languages. Having a few hours of English Literature and German a week was great, and I actually missed it a lot at university when I had to focus on one subject entirely. I also found Maths HL fantastic. It was the only subject that really challenged me and made me feel like I was training and engaging my brain every day, which I really enjoyed.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

Balancing the workload and feeling committed to all 6 subjects plus TOK plus CAS plus the extended essay was really difficult. I always felt like I was sacrificing a subject somewhere. Maths HL was very time consuming and difficult but I did really enjoy it, as I described above.

What did you do for your CAS/TOK?

I did a range of activities for CAS. I helped out in a Maths Studies class every week as an assistant to answer students’ questions. I helped organise Pi Day at school, organising activities to spread awareness and enjoyment of maths. Growing up in Geneva meant the Red Cross was nearby, and I took place in workshops they organised. I held a fundraiser for a charity associated with the Red Cross alongside some classmates, and established a connection between our school and the charity. I did Pilates as a sport every week. I wrote my TOK essay on the process of scientific discovery, and my presentation on the cost of research at CERN.