Tutor: Sophie Deden
IBDP score: 43
University: Geography, University of Durham
Subjects: Biology, ESS, Geography
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?
Sophie: I completed both the PYP and MYP before moving into the IBDP, so I would say that I chose the IB because that was the logical pathway to follow. Undertaking both the PYP and the MYP was very beneficial to my success in the Diploma because it allowed me to acquire many of the skills that were required to do well in the Diploma before I started the programme.
What did you enjoy about the IB?
In hindsight, I think I enjoyed the IB system as a whole. I was always very fond of the encouragement to complete assigned tasks in groups, which allowed me to share my ideas with my peers but also learn from other’s ideas. I believe that team-work and partnership is a key skill needed in the future and is thus important to be acquired as early as possible. I also enjoyed the manageable range of subjects that the IB requires each student to take. Taking six subjects allows students to explore each chosen discipline in great depth, while not eliminating the breadth of skills acquired from different disciplines such as maths, languages and sciences.
What was the most challenging part of the IB?
I think the most challenging part of the IB was to learn how to manage time effectively to allow yourself to have sufficient time for each assignment to complete it to a good standard. This became especially challenging at the end of each term when teachers tended to put all due dates into one or two weeks. Even though time management was challenging, I believe that this aspect of the IB learning system was one of the most valuable and transferable skills I acquired. Moving into University I felt a lot more prepared to tackle assignments in my own time without close monitoring by a supervisor.
What did you do for your CAS/TOK/EE?
For CAS I completed a range of activities. For ‘Creativity’ I joined an Art class that I attended weekly after school hours. For ‘Action’ I played a variety of sports such as tennis, football and swimming. For ‘Service’ I volunteered at a local old people home once every two weeks for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. In addition to these regular activities, I undertook a two week expedition to Sulawesi with Operation Wallacea and the year-long preparation and fundraising counted towards my CAS hours. As a class we also got to spend a week in Bali and three days in Bintan, where we complete community service work and a couple of Action activities such as hiking a volcano to see the sunrise and wild water rafting.
I completed my EE in Biology and focused my study on the impact of human and physical environmental changes on the pristine coral reefs in BauBau, Sulawesi. The research for this report was coupled with the expedition with Operation Wallacea.
What are you currently studying?
I am currently studying Human Geography at the University of Durham. This subject choice was inspired by my interest in Geography during the IB and one of my Geography teachers at school that had undertaken the same course when she attended university.
How did the IB prepare you for this?
The Geography curriculum in the IB inspired me to choose Human Geography as a degree pathway. It showed me where my interests lay at that time. However, my school had limited options of IB subject we could take. I think if I had a further range of IB subjects to choose from I could have ended up in something completely different.
What are your plans for the future /what would you like to do after studying?
After I complete my Bachelor Degree in Human Geography, I plan to take a gap year in which I want to pursue internships to become more accustomed to the business world and explore more deeply which direction I want to take my further studies in and what job I can possibly imagine myself in. After the gap year, I plan to undertake a masters’ degree in the direction of political geography, governance or business and management.
Why do you enjoy tutoring?
I think I enjoy tutoring so much because it allows me to feel fulfilled with each session. When I complete each session and summarise what the student and I have accomplished in the session, I make sure that the student goes away with the feeling of having understood, practised and learnt more than they had before the session started. I make myself a clear plan before each session that details how I will bring the student to a new understanding of content and exam technique to apply the content. This whole process and the interaction with the student is most enjoyable for me when tutoring.
What makes a successful tutor?
I think to be a successful tutor lessons need to be strategically planned before the session begins. In the first session, I believe it is useful to discuss clearly with the student what expectations are brought to the course. With these expectations in mind, the tutor can plan all lessons ahead, balancing between an explanation of content and time for the student to practice content that they have understood and time for further questions. The strategic plan should however not neglect the student to have input into classes. Thus, I believe that a good tutor takes initiative but also respects what the student feels is the best learning strategy for themselves.
What tips do you have for current IB students?
I always advise IB students to start revision and practice exam technique early. A large part of doing well in the IB comes from constant repetition of past paper questions, which allow the student to practice exam technique as well as test themselves whether they have understood the content that they are taught in class.
How did you organise your revision?
During the year I focused heavily on the assignments and even though I set myself the goal to revise at least a small amount of the content that I was currently studying, I never really got to the revision unless I had a test coming up in school. As we frequently had end of block tests at school this kept me revising quite frequently anyway. I did make sure that I revised well for the Mock Exam papers in January. This set me out on a good basis when it came to studying for the final IB exams in May. For these, I started revising very early and made a strict revision plan that I tried to stick to as much as possible (highly recommend planning 8-10 weeks of revision before exams). For Math for example I made sure I completed one past paper every Saturday and Sunday at least three months before the exams (this may sound crazy but pushed me up from a 4 to a 7 on my final report!).
What are your best revision tips?
I recommend starting revision early so you don’t have to cram when it comes to the finals. Then I had different techniques when revising for each subject however I believe that studying the content by making revision notes and then condensing these into mind maps and then cue cards helped me. With each study session, I made sure I planned in time to go through some past paper questions to make sure the content I had studied settled well in my head and I was able to articulate a good answer. I advise also to take regular breaks – after one or two hours of revision to give your head a break, especially during intense revision periods.