IB Tutor Interviews: Luisa

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: Luisa
IBDP score: 40
University: Biology (2018), Universidade de Lisboa
Subjects: Biology, Maths, Spanish

EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Luisa: Doing the IB wasn’t a very hard choice to make, having done the previous programmes (PYP and MYP), I always looked forward to choosing my subjects and finishing the IB successfully.

The IB is not only a very complete program that allows you to push yourself in every single intellectual area, but it can also bring out the best in you (though CAS and by working as team) as a person.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I enjoyed taking all the subjects. I enjoyed the most without thinking about university applications or job aspirations, I decided that if I was going to study something in the future it would have to be something that made me happy, and that can only be done if I am studying subjects I truly enjoy. So, what I liked the most was the freedom to choose my subjects, mixing up Visual Arts with Biology, and realizing they have so much in common, for example.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

What I found most challenging was keeping up with my extracurricular life, making sure I was spending enough time with friends and family even when I always felt I had something to do for school. Setting time, apart is essential even to achieve your goals in school.

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

For CAS I began taking children from an orphanage to have a surfing lesson every Saturday morning. To do that, I partnered with the surf school that I was already working for, found willing teachers that could help me out with the lessons, designed the programme so that each kid could enjoy the ocean in safety and put it to action. It was the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I didn’t even have to leave my town. There is no need to go to the other side of the world to help, or to do something you enjoy; if you want to do it, help your own community and see the true impact a small gesture can make!

For my EE, I made an odd choice of doing it on a subject that I was not studying, History. I researched Che Guevara’s intervention in Congo. I learned a lot, but because I had never done a History essay, I struggled with the sources and how to evaluate them, which cost me a lot of time and maybe a point. It is important to make good choices in the IB, this was not the best, but I learnt a lot from it.

What are you currently studying?

I am currently in my last year of an undergraduate in Biology.

What is your favourite aspect(s)/specialism?

What I enjoy the most about this course are the ecology and conservation modules. They give an insight on the relationship between every single organism on earth, how they interact and how they balance each other (when they do). Humans, of course, are also organisms on earth and it is not hard to see the negative impact we have on the environment and ecosystems. Reducing that impact is what I would like to learn and work on in the future.

IB Tutor Interviews: Joshua

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.

In this part of our Tutor Spotlight series, we spoke to Economics and History tutor, Joshua. Joshua scored 45 points on the IB, before going to St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford to study Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE).

 

Why did you choose to do the IB?
I guess I was a generalist – I wanted to do a bit of everything! I really liked the breadth of the IB and the fact that you could do a lot more than you could with A-levels.

 

What did you enjoy about the IB?
I enjoyed doing lots of different subjects alongside each other. It was great to have a mix and not be doing just all sciences or humanities. I also really enjoyed the CAS side of things and the non-academic element of the IB.

 

What was the most challenging part of the IB?
Doing Higher Level Russian as a non-native speaker having just studied the language for one year previously!

 

What did you do for your CAS/TOK/EE?
I did my Extended Essay in Politics, on the Democratic Peace Problem – the puzzle that democracies don’t seem to go to war with each other, but are aggressive in the way that they deal with non-democracies. I really enjoyed this opportunity to go off and research a topic that I was interested in by myself. Plus we got to have a whole week off timetable to do this!

I title of my TOK essay was, ‘Art is a lie that brings us closer to the truth. Discuss.’ I found this really interesting and went on to look at similar questions when I studied Aesthetics as part of Philosophy at university.

The main part of CAS for me was the C. I did lots and lots of music. I played the flute, piano and saxophone, and studied the first two of these at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

IB Tutor Interviews: Michael

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: Michael
IBDP score: 41
University: Environmental Technology (2016), Imperial College London
Subjects: Business Management, Maths, Physics


EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Michael: I chose to do the IB because it was, and still is, the most comprehensive and rigorous pre-university course available for high school students. I was also attracted to the IB because of its credibility and recognition among the universities globally.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I enjoyed the breadth and depth of the IB, as I was able to study a wide range of subjects, from Physics to Psychology and Business Management, and even French (as a complete beginner!)

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

Similarly, the breadth and depth of the IB proved to be a challenge at times, especially with fulfilling the CAS requirements over the two years. However, I did appreciate the challenging aspects of the IB, as it prepared me for the even more challenging life of a university undergraduate and graduate student abroad.

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

For the CAS component, I acted as President of my school’s Green Team (which involved organising fund-raising bake sales, mangrove reforestation trips, and environmental awareness campaigns), played in the school’s volleyball team, and volunteered for Gawad Kalinga in building and painting homes for the urban poor.

For the TOK component, I presented on the knowledge issue of: To what extent can art be influenced by religious beliefs? I focused on a local art exhibit in which the artist showcased Catholic figures with various pop culture and adulterated ornaments. It was quite a controversial event locally, but I was awarded the highest score. I also wrote my TOK essay on the topic prompt of: “Knowledge is generated through the interaction of critical and creative thinking. Evaluate this statement in two areas of knowledge”. I examined the relevance of this topic prompt in natural sciences and the arts, and was achieved top marks.

For the EE component, I wrote my essay within the Psychology topic of: “To what extent is memory decline a natural product of ageing?” This was the first piece of writing over 1,000 words that I had written and served as a good introduction to academic writing.

What are you currently studying?

I recently graduated from my Master’s of Science in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London in September. Before that, I finished my Bachelor’s of Engineering in Environmental Engineering from UCL in 2015.

IB Tutor Interviews: Olivia

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: Olivia
IBDP score: 45
University: English Language & Literature (2016), University of Oxford
Subjects: English, Philosophy, TOK, Oxbridge Applications

EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Olivia: I chose the IB because of its international quality. Although I did my IB in England, I had been at an international school in Spain before, and I wanted to continue in an international environment – this meant peers from all over the world and a curriculum that considered and incorporated cultural awareness into academics.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I enjoyed being able to specialise my interests with HL vs SL classes, while still maintaining a breadth of subjects. I also enjoyed the teaching style, which encourages independent thinking and discussion, instead of regurgitation of memorised material.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

Although I was glad for the breadth, the most challenging part of the IB for me was having to take Maths and a Science subject. I’m not naturally good at or particularly interested in these disciplines, but I think it was good for me long term to not give up Maths at 16, as many students do in the A-level system. It was also a challenge, and so more rewarding to score highly in these subjects.

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

Some students struggle with TOK, but I really enjoyed it. It is essentially a Philosophy class, which was one of my favourite subjects. I believe it is a great chance to reflect on why and how we learn what we do, instead of barrelling forth and learning because we are told to. I also found my EE to be quite a fun, empowering project. A bit like a precursor to a dissertation at University, it is exciting to be able to pick whatever you like to write about and to know about that topic in depth. Not to mention how the EE was VERY helpful for University applications and interviews. I studied English Literature, and so knowing a lot about Nabokov’s Lolita was impressive and helped me seem knowledgeable and passionate about my subject.

What are you currently studying?

I have recently graduated from the University of Oxford – I studied English Language and Literature.

IB Tutor Interviews: Zhui Ning

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: Zhui Ning
IBDP score: 43
University: Liberal Arts (2019), King’s College London
Subjects: Chinese, English, History

EIB: Why did you choose to do the IB?

Zhui Ning: In Singapore, where I pursued my secondary education, the two options available were GCE A Levels and IB. I knew that the inflexibility and ‘drilling’ methods of A Levels were unsuited to me, and I liked the IB’s emphasis on the humanities and coursework, so I chose to do that.

What did you enjoy about the IB?

I loved the high standard of humanities study, as well as the generally high academic standard that the IB demands of its students – things like the Extended Essay prepared me very well for the challenges of university. The balance of assessment, between coursework and exams, was also a huge load off my shoulders and I liked the variation and emphasis on practicality (such as science experiments and presentations for language subjects) rather than just answering questions on an exam paper. The active integration of holistic education, with CAS activities and group project demands, was also something that challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and helped me grow as a student and person.

What was the most challenging part of the IB?

Coping with all the deadlines, especially in the second year and with the subjects that I’m weaker in. There was a point where I had to submit my Math IA draft but I was attending the Yale MUN in the USA, and we were all going mad trying to finish the draft and still prepare for our debates. I remember writing about cryptography past midnight in a room with friends, listening to rock music to stay awake. It was exhausting, but ultimately so rewarding and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

What did you do for your CAS/EE?

For my CAS, I did a variety of activities. I volunteered with a local animal shelter and carried out some recycling activities with a local urban development company. I also carried on with activities I had before the IB, such as playing the organ and archery. We also set up a netball club in school. My school organised an overseas trip for the cohort, taking us to different countries for service activities. I went to a rural village in Malaysia, where we climbed mountains and helped the villagers paint kindergarten walls, and carried out cultural exchange activities by teaching them English while they shared with us some traditional dances and phrases.

For the EE, I wrote a comparative essay in English A, analysing gender dynamics in Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter. I enjoyed the process and it taught me a lot about literary theories and critical literature. However, in hindsight, I feel like I could have chosen more exciting texts, but I’m still proud of the work I did, and it helped prepare me for the standards to which I am now held in university.

What are you currently studying?

BA (Hons) Liberal Arts at King’s College London, with a major in Comparative Literature.