IB Tutor Interviews: Vlad

Timothy Hoffmann

Tutor: Vlad Podgurschi

IBDP score: 39

University: PhD Materials with Nuclear Engineering (2019), Imperial College London

Subjects: Chemistry, Economics, Maths, Physics

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: What did you enjoy about the IB?

Vlad: What I enjoyed most about the IB was the variety of subjects that one could study. When you go to university, especially in the UK, your studies are focused on and limited to your area of study. The IB allowed me to explore several simultaneous interests and not limit myself.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

I think the most challenging part of the IB was the final exam season. I had 16 exams and you really must plan your time so you can properly prepare for all of them.

What are you currently studying?

I am currently a PhD student in Materials with Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London where I also completed my undergraduate and master’s degree.

What is your favourite aspect(s)/specialism?

For me, the favourite aspect of the course I chose and why I continued onto a PhD is the multitude of disciplines that it encompasses: Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering. Just like the IB allowed me to study the sciences simultaneously, the degree offered me the possibility to continue doing so and not limit myself.

How did the IB prepare you for this?

By doing any of the sciences in the IB, you are well prepared for any science and/or engineering degree at university. Writing lab reports is an essential part of such degrees and having written many lab reports during the IB, I never felt lost or confused about how to do it at university. Furthermore, I believe studying two languages is of utmost importance, even to those who later study science or engineering. I have had colleagues on my course, who after only studying science and mathematics during A-levels, had very little experience writing coherently and being able to express their views and opinions. Having written lots of essays in both English and French during the IB, I never had any difficulties writing at university. Lastly, the same skills are later used when applying for jobs and in a professional context.

Why do you enjoy tutoring?

I enjoy tutoring because I like sharing the knowledge that I have. Furthermore, I have often found that while students tend to blame themselves for not understanding and getting bad grades, if the concepts are well explained to them, they have absolutely no problems succeeding. I have had several great teachers in the past that both motivated me to excel and provided me the skills of how to do so. While tutoring, I hope to share the same experience that I had to my students so that they too can excel.

What makes a successful tutor?

A successful tutor is the one that adapts to the student. In a class of many students, a teacher can find it very difficult to teach in such a way as to fit all students’ learning styles. A successful tutor can make the lesson enjoyable and productive. In addition, a good tutor should dedicate time to understanding the student’s needs.

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

My favourite aspect of the IB that I teach are the little tricks and tips in Mathematics that allow you to tackle a question one step at a time and score points even when the solution eludes you.

What has been your greatest tutoring success?

My greatest tutoring success is getting students that refused to consider science as a university option understanding the subject and become passionate about it before finally studying it at a higher education level.