Friday, December 24, 2010


Well, I don't know how many people actually do read (not glance, but reeeeeaaaad) the stuff that's on this blog, but CSN stores have given me the chance to hold a giveaway on this blog. CSN stores sell all kinds of things (in over 200 online stores), such as cookie trays, tall lamps and leather briefcases (random things, I know!).

WHAT: a $35 CSN stores gift certificate
HOW: leave your name, email address and whether or not you're/have been an IB student (I have no bias) as a comment to this post only.
WHEN: until 1st January
FINEPRINT: international shipping (anywhere outside of US & Canada) of whatever you buy from the CSN store is not covered. One entry per person+email. If you're under 13 years old let a parent know you're entering. If not enough entries are received then the competition period may be extended.

A winner will be chosen at random , notified by email and have their victory proclaimed on this blog.

So, yeah, even if you're just visiting by, enter the competition (by commenting on this post only), because everyone loves to win (well, that is the general idea...)



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to write an Extended Essay

Some see this extra (yes necessary) requirement as a time-suck. Laborious research, planning, drafting, writing and rewriting. The endless joy of frying your eyes in front of a computer screen!

Here, I'm going to post a brief guide, since there are several extremely detailed guides available in The Land of the Interwebz.

A) Subject
Decide from which subject your EE will be on. It is most advisable that its from one of the subjects you're studying.

B) Topic
Which area in the subject you've chosen are you interested in?
E.g: History: Cold War
E.g: English: Pride and Prejudice
E.g: Chemistry: Acids and Bases

C) Research
Tres important mes aimies! It's through research you will find out what you do like, and what you don't like.
E.g: I rather like World War Two, but I do not like the involvement of the US. This means I will not focus on US involvement in WWII.
Gather as many resources which are relevant, even if it's just a sentence. You never know when your EE focus point might change.

D) Question
The focus point of your essay. In most cases, it continues to change slightly, until a pinpoint focus in a topic is found and liked by both the supervisor and student.

E) Planning
Decide on the relevant subtopics.
Are diagrams needed?
Gather resources.
A basic dot-pointed list of what will be included in the essay for each sub-topic

F) Drafting
Place butt on suitable surface and type/write. There are two ways to go about this:
i) Set a goal and write an x amount of words every 'session'.
ii) Type/write until you can no more!
At this point it is the introduction, background information abour the topic and the body of the essay which is being written.

G) The First Complete Draft
4000+ words have been put to paper. This is an Accomplishment. Reread it and edit. Then show your supervisor, who will provide you with feedback. Do not ignore the feedback (unless your supervisor is clueless and has no hell of an idea what you're doing- which is very bad). It is not necessary that a conclusion and an abstract are written, since they come at the end.

H) Continual drafting
Edit and rewrite and improve your essay as much as you can. Keep track of ALL sources used. The correct presentation of the essay (formatting, font, etc...) can be implemented at this point.

I) The Final Draft
A viva voce (oh, the IBO and its fancy Latin!) is conducted. This is an interview with your supervisor regarding any more changes which can be made. Your supervisor actually records points they've noticed about your essay and other notes about the interview. The essay is checked for plagiarism.

Your EE component is done and dusted. The IB warlocks will give you a mark. This mark, along with your TOK essay will contribute your final IB diploma mark, with a maximum of three.
Here are a few much more thorough guides regarding the Extended Essay (in order of usefulness)
IBO official Extended Essay Guide (click on the other pages listed on the right hand side of the page to view criteria, regulations, presentation guidelines, etc...)

City Honours School EE guide
IB Survival EE for Dummies


i) To track your process, every time you make changes to your essay, either print it out (but don't bother too much if it's only 150 words or less) or save it as another file (i.e: EE edit 1, EE edit 2). This is to ensure that a Process has occurred. If, in some unfortunate case, you've been found to be the ill-omened Plagiariser, a gradual process of your work will be there to show you are innocent.

ii) My supervisor continually advised his students that one of the best topics should be from the syllabus of a subject you're studying. Why? Because it'll be like revision when writing parts of it and it'll also give in depth knowledge in a certain area of the topic.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to not fail again or receive low marks

No one likes to fail or get ‘bad marks’ at school. But since we’re humans and make mistakes and blah blah blah, there might be a time (let’s say in our high schooling career for the sake of this blog) when we fail on a test, assignment or even a subject. Without really meaning to.
Frankly, some of my marks for some of my subjects have fell after being in the IB program. I know the same has happened to more than a few of my cohorts. The MLIIB posts on My life Is IB is further evidence.

However, this does not mean you should either a) not to IB or b) drop out of IB or c) become a robot and have no fun by working your metallic but off 24/7. Its life, you succeed at some things and can suck (or fail) at others. So the best thing to do is to suck it up and fix up your mistakes.

Here's a very general how-to

  • Get the correct answers for questions you have answered incorrectly. Do this as soon as you receive your test back.
  • If you don’t understand your teacher’s method/wording, find a classmate to get the correct answer from.
  • Redo the question without looking at the correct answer.
  • If possible, redo the test (at least the incorrect questions) at home, either mentally or writing by it all down.
  • Read the assessment criteria and see where you have lost marks
  • Get feedback from your teacher, even if they have given written feedback.
  • When doing the next assignment, read the assessment criteria and know where your weakness is, so you can avoid it.
  • If a new assignment is similar to your low marks/failed assignment (i.e: commentary for English, lab practical write-up for Biology), refer back to your low marks/failed task to check you're not repeating the same mistakes (e.g: having a poor intro for a commentary, not providing limitations in discussion for Biology write-up)
  • Most likely failed or received a just passing grade due to tests and assignments which have been failed or have received low marks. So do the above do avoid failing them.
  • Talk to your teacher about your weaknesses and how to overcome them (either on report collection day or even at recess/lunchtime)

Note: Confidence in yourself is quite important, as well as actually putting in effort. Stressing and being nervous can also be good, since some people work better under these conditions.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Ally is an IB student from the other side of the world (me:Australia/Ally:U.S). She will be a contributing blogger on this blog. Ally will cherish upon us her version of the delights of IB and impart some of her wisdom.

You can view her CAS blog here.

From Ally:

Hi there!

My name's Ally and I'm a junior at an IB school in the U.S.!
I'll be posting helpful/random things now and then...

My subjects:
Visual Arts HL
Math Studies SL
English A1 HL
Physics 1
Spanish B SL
History HL

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Maths SL

Many of the link I've provided also have Maths studies and HL notes available. I'm only providing the links of the subjects which I've undertaken (in this case Maths SL).

Mathimatikos revision/reference notes for SL(?) topics in pdf format
IB Maths powerpoints for SL topics
IB Maths worksheets, notes and practice papers (GDC/GDC free)
MM II (IB Calculus) Mrs. Shim's IB Calculus notes and worksheets
IB Maths SL Wikibook notes and formulae for SL topics
Haese and Harris IB SL textbook pdf document, useful for extra practice questions
Maths SL syllabus excellent to use as a guide of learnt concepts and for exam/test preparation
IB Maths IA guide hints, tips and general information for writing Maths IA

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lingo yo!

So, I figured since I'm doing IB, therefore using IB terms, and some people might not know what IB is, I've compiled a list of words which you might see on this blog.
In no alphabetical order.

HL: higher level
Three out of the total six subjects undertaken by an IB student must be HL. Higher Level subjects included more content and depth than a Standard Level subject, and also involve more hours, assessments and and extra exam paper. They also have more credit (eg: if a student takes Maths HL, a 4 or 5 is equal to a Maths SL 6 or 7). Mark boundaries are also lower.

SL: standard level
Out of six subjects, three must be SL. SL subjects require less hours and assessments than HL subjects. The course doesn't have as much depth as a HL subject and there are two exam papers to be done. Mark boundaries are higher than its HL counterpart.

EE: extended essay
Generally a 3500-4000 word essay (for science subject this varies) on a very specific topic of the student's choice. The student completes this essay over the time period of their diploma.
Successful completion of the EE component adds one point to the maximum of 45 points. Failure to do so results in failing to receive the full IB diploma.

TOK: theory of knowledge
A philosophical class, similar to epistemology. How do we know? Can we trust the things we know? The roles of perception, language, reason and emotion effecting what we know and how we know. Know, know, know...
A maximum of 2000 word essay on a question (provided by the IBO) is to be completed by the second year of IB in order to gain one point out of the total of 45.

CAS: creativity, action and service
150 hours must be divided equally between creative, physical and service activities. Journal entries/logs must be made for each activity and outcomes must be achieved. Completing the CAS requirement gives one point out of the maximum of 45 possible points.
Some see this as a forceful way of going out into the community to learn about others and yourself. Others see this as a great opportunity to do schoolwork but having fun too.

IA: internal assessment
Assignments and pieces of work which contribute to the final subject grade. These are marked by the teacher who teaches you that subject. A random sample of selected students work (names chosen by the IBO) are then sent to the IBO for moderation (to ensure teachers are marking fairly).

A hideous requirement of IB English. It is a time-suck and requires the student to analyse literary devices and techniques and provide their own response to an excerpt or poem. Most students like to practise BS skills whilst completing a commentary.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Life is IB

In the IB and don't know about this site yet? Where have you been?
Click here.

Warning: procrastination begins at the click of the link.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The list of links are more useful for French ab initio and perhaps even French B SL students.

Languages Online a Victorian government sponsored site. German, Chinese, Indonesian and Italian also available.
French Language Exercises Quiz activities on indirect, direct, passe compose, imparfait, negatives, etc..
Quia French All sorts of quiz type activities. The link I've listed is the search page.
Beginners French Listening Exercises page with links for improving listening and comprehension skills.
Cool French Want to start an argument? Want to say colloquial expressions? A fun interactive site for all levels of French (and to use on others)
BBC French A site by the BBC containing a wealth of learning exercises, videos, fun activities and audio for those who are learning or already know French. Suitable for all levels.
TV5 Monde Apprendre le Francais A French television channel's educational site, with activities in French for those learning the language. Suitable for SL students. Ab initio students advised to use site with a teacher's help (there are no English prompts or guides on the site).
Intense Cogitation French SL/HL notes on grammar and assessments in French (oral and written expression).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to write a commentary

You need to write a commentary on some random piece of literature. Great, you now know that at least two hours will be spent at the computer typing, deleting and retyping, all whilst you're trying to channel into the author/poet's mind, trying to express exactly what were they thinking when they've written "...the pentacle of sorrow".
Fear not. I shall tell thee how one doth write a commentary (for homework purposes only- where there's no time limit).

1.Read the given piece. What's the pace? What is the piece about overall? What's the format of the piece?

2.Annotate baby! Whatever ideas you have, let them spew out of your mind. Even if it sounds a bit weird, just list keywords and short sentences. What connotations do certain words carry (positive or negative?). Is the author's tone changing?

3.Hunt down those literary devices. Identify what's their point in the written piece. Does it add rhyme or give a continuous flow in reading? Is it to provide greater detail (identify the form of imagery)?

4.Note down the punctuation (more important in poetry than plain ole' text from a novel/play).

5. Start writing!

This is how I usually set out my commentaries:
- Introduction (author's name, the given piece's title, the overall context of the piece, list some literary devices used, the tone of the piece)
- Body (if it's poetry, then I usually do one paragraph for each verse. If it's prose, then each point with it's evidence [a quote from the piece] and affect on reader in a paragraph on its own)
- Conclusion (state the tone at the ends of the piece, the reader's reactions, summarise what happened in the piece, i.e: someone died, a man cried, etc...)

There is no 'perfect formula' for writing a commentary. There are many ways to go about. You can write it sequentially (start from the beginning of the piece til the end). Or you can write it in themed paragraphs (i.e: paragraph one discusses literary devices, paragraph two is about the author's perspective, tone and mood, paragraph three details certain examples of imagery and its affect on the reader, etc...). However, you must remember to be clear and eloquent in your writing, and must remember to explain the affect on the reader. A commentary is not a rewrite, it's an explanation and discussion of the thoughts and language in the written piece.

Here is a much lengthier Wikibook guide on writing a commentary (an excellent resource, no doubt).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do ToK

CAS: Creation, Activity and Service

Text: It feels lighter today... Did I forget something?

CAS holds a great deal of importance in the IB Diploma. It is necessary for obtaining the diploma, and can turn 'IBers' into selfsih souls who'd do an activity "just to get the CAS points." However, since we are forced to do CAS, we are pushed out of our comfort zones. We might learn a new skill (which can be used on a resume), get healthier, make new friends and just on a whole... be a much more 'globally minded' (yes, a favourite of the IBO). I know this sounds really cheesy, but so far I guess it's kinda working for me.

Anyhoo, if you're short of ideas, here are some.


  • Inquire about art workshops in your council/shire/local area or a community centre (in Australia it's usually a Neighbourhood house).
  • Take a few art classes (yeah, there's a good chance money is involved)
  • Create a 'history of the school' book.
  • Organise an activity (the planning/design process is counted as creativity)
  • Join a bookclub (the activities you do there are usually counted as creativity.
  • Write a story(or use one wirtten already, shhhh) enter it in a competiton (give your CAS supervisor the competiton's deets)


  • Participate in school sports competitons (inter/intra school sports).
  • Get a gym membership (don't forget to take photos of your sweaty self)
  • If going to a gym isn't an option, inquire about yoga/pilates/walking groups at your community centre.


  • Organise an activity at school. Or even outside of school if you want to get really picky. It could be a bookclub/artclub (+creativity), ex/incursion, an afterschool event for your class or year level.
  • Contribute in school publications (+creativity)
  • Represent your school at forums or meetings (let the teachers who usually organise these kinds of activities you're eager and interested).
  • Fundraiser
  • Volunteering at an event, such as ushering at a lecture, festival or even at a community theatre.

Long-term Project

This should continue over a genereally three month period and has to cover two CAS disciplines (i.e Service and Action). You must be part of a team, however the people don't need to be IB students nor anyones from school. It also has to tick off the eight outcomes.

  • Organise an initiative, such as encouraging recycling/composting at school.
  • Organise a sports tournament.
  • Organise a community project (planting trees, vegetable patch, clay/mosiac workshop)
  • Start a new publication (a newsletter targeted for Cooking Mama's/Gamers/Bookworms/etc...).

The word 'organise' is the key word here. It's all about getting the motivation to do something.


  1. Remember to always be on the lookout for activities for CAS. Be proactive.

  2. The best strategy is to complete CAS by the end of your first year.

  3. During your vacations, go out and do some CAS. It's even better with friends because you're motivated (and get to have some fun together).

  4. School is the best place to start looking for activities. Walking to the destination where the activity would be is the only transport involved. Afterschool activites are great, especally if you're supervising/leading (Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, art/science club, 'Let's Get Fit and Activated' Health Awareness and Encouragement Circle' -made it up, sounds realistic enough, hmmmm).

EDIT: here is an example of a CAS diary with CAS activities (inspiration perhaps?)

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm an avid reader of mostly Young Adult fiction. I especially love to read adventure and spy novels and the occasional ChickLit.

CHERUB by Robert Muchamore

Henderson's Boys again, by Robert Muchamore

Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller

Click by Linda Sue Park

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling (mega-duh!)

Missing Persons by M.E Rabb

Thieves Like Us by Stephen Cole

Little Brother by Corey Doctorow

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Borderland by Rosanne Hawke

Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

Spy Girl series by Carol Hedges

Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Bad Kitty series by Michelle Jaffe

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

IB Biology

Biology Past Papers (SL and HL) Download as pdf files
Biology for Life Skyline HS IB Biology site. Full of extremely useful links, syllabus notes and questions.
Biology IA Explanation of each criterion (D, DCP, CE, MS, PS) and what you should do to obtain the best marks possible. Note: when on page scroll to the middle to find the links.
Click4Biology: IB Biology 2009-10 Syllabus answers for all topics and most options (B, C, D, F and G aren't availabe).
ITS Biology Student Resources A resource page with even more links!
OSC IB Revision Guides-IB Biology Sample pages (pdf) to use as revision
Online Biology Textbook not the best resource but worth referring to for extra reading or understanding concepts
Biology Animations extremely fascinating animations, with many small notes during each animation. Covers the main topics studied in Biology (regardless of IB or not)
Intense Cogitation a variety of notes categorised by syllabus points.

One study guide which I use and would highly recommend is Biology for the IB Diploma. With simplified text and organised pages, it's a great reference to use either for revison, reinforce understanding or just to read up on some material before starting a new unit of study.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

IB Chemistry

Practice Chemistry Tests multiple choice questions, excellent for test prep
Ms. Wiseman's IB Chemistry links to topics which have more links to notes and quizzes
Dr. Vernon (Skyline HS) Chemistry links to classwork and homework questions and notes (note: things here are very specific to what Dr. Vernon has taught in their class. Links may or may not help).
Data booklet MS Word document, useful for general chemistry work
IB Chemistry Wikibook summaries and notes on each topic and option in the syllabus
IB Chem a site for SL and HL Chemistry with syllabus, practical/lab design notes, chemistry EE and Group IV project help.
Intense Cogitation revision notes and practicals

Bad :(

I've been terrible towards the upkeep of this blog!
Soon, I will hopefully provide helpful links and maybe even past papers and marking schemes for IB students (for the subjects which I am taking only).
And of course, chronicle my IB journey (haha, sounds weird to me).

Friday, March 26, 2010

This is what I've done for the past few weeks

School has been hell of a lot busy. Lots of tests (due to it being end of term).
My marks were pretty good (and very surprising).
Going to work (retail assisstant or whatever the people are called who work on the registers). The money is good. Otherwise, work is pretty dull.
I'm now officially a Yellow belt at Freestyle Martial Arts.
I went to a Cobra Starship concert. Very awesome.
...and received my first ever C on a school report...for TOK (though the teacher did tell me that he wished that I'd handed in my journal earlier- because I hadn't- since my TOK journal was pretty good).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Essay Structure: TEEL

This is a pretty simple essay structure to use for most subjects. I've been taught and using it for about three years now, and it's pretty foolproof and simple. The following structure, however, is for the main body of the essay, not the introductory or concluding paragraph of your essay.


Usually the introductory/topic sentence of the paragraph explaining to the reader what the paragraph will discuss. Avoid making it too lengthy and detailed.

Discuss your ideas/reasons/argument regarding the topic sentence (whatever you had mentioned in your 'title').

Give support and proof for your ideas/reasons/argument. If this is an essay for a novel study, give quotes and refer to the novel. If it is for a history essay, again, you can use references to back up your explanation. If it's an argumentative essay, give statistics (if applicable).

A sentence or two which refers back to your essay topic or title.

A good paragraph following TEEL will have an explanation and evidence throughout the paragraph. By this I mean a paragraph will not strictly have the explanation and then the evidence in order. You can have an explanation and evidence and then another explanation or the evidence first and then an explanation. However, a good essay will include the TEEL points.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Commentary ahoy!

Finally, after about five weeks since starting school, my English class is required to do a commentary. Le gasp. I've annoted the excerpt from which we're required to write a commentary about. The only thing left for me now is to stop this procrastination and write a two hours worth commentary. Yes, that's right, not a word limit, but a time limit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hitler and Maths HL

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Theory of Knowledge: TOK

So far, my TOK classes only make 40% sense to me. It's all about "knowledge this, knowledge that." It's become so confusing that I don't even know what to write as a title in my TOK 'journal' (it's just a normal exercise book). We just discuss things such as the Areas of Knowing, Gettier's example and so forth. However, I think my TOK teacher is a very awesome TOK teacher. He knows so much about everything. He makes classes interesting (unlike English where I fell asleep today from all that reading).

I really hope that I can somehow begin to make sense of TOK or else I'm doomed!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mon sujet sont:

The subjects which I am taking are:
-French (ab initio)

I haven't decided which ones are higher level (HL) or standard level (SL) yet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eveything has to have a Begining from Somewhere...

I've started this blog to do some plain ole blogging about my final two years of high school. I'm doing what's called the International Baccalareate diploma program(or just IB for short). My main two purposes of having this blog is a)be some sort of help of an informative source for present and future IB students on how it is to be an IB student and b)improve my writing skills by blogging a lot.
Random off topic posts may appear time to time (or quite frequently, depending on my mood).

I wonder what will I think of this first post two years from now...