4 Tricks to Ace Your IB and IGCSE Exams


Navigating through the rigorous process of IB and IGCSE exams can seem daunting, especially when you consider the vast syllabi these tests encompass. However, worry not! With a little bit of strategy, focus, and effort, you can ace these exams like a pro. Here are four effective tricks that will help you excel.

Trick 1: Rank the Questions in the Exam from Easiest to Hardest

Your first strategy in your exam preparation should be proper question management. As soon as you get your hands on the paper, spend your allocated reading time wisely. Thoroughly read all the questions and on a separate piece of paper, rank them from easiest to hardest.

Start answering the questions in the order of their rank, starting with the easiest. This approach has two benefits. First, it will help build your confidence and momentum as you progress through the exam. Second, it ensures you have enough time to handle the tougher questions later.

Trick 2: Know the Time You Can Allocate to Each Question

Time management is a critical component of exam success. A neat trick here is to bring a stopwatch to the exam, which makes tracking the time left easier than referring to a wall clock.

For instance, in a Geography HL Paper 1, you may have 45 minutes to earn 20 marks. Dividing 45 by 20 gives you approximately 2.25 minutes per mark. However, I recommend saving about 15% of your time to review what you’ve written. So, you should aim to finish answering in about 38 minutes, giving you roughly 1.9 minutes per mark. Remember to stick to your allocated times to avoid running out of time towards the end.

Trick 3: Take a Break Before the Exam and Eat Glucose-Rich Foods

The human mind uses glucose as fuel, and your cognitive performance is closely linked to your glucose levels. Avoid studying intensely in the three hours leading up to the exam to prevent cognitive fatigue.

Moreover, eat glucose-rich foods like grapes or snacks high in natural sugars just before the exam. This will ensure that your brain is adequately fuelled to perform at its best. This trick is particularly beneficial for exams longer than 2 hours, where a steady energy supply can help maintain your focus and stamina.

Trick 4: Stay Calm when Confronted with Difficult Questions

Exams can often surprise you with unexpected or tough questions. The key here is not to panic. If you’ve followed the first trick, you’ve already placed these difficult questions towards the end of your list. Take the time to read these questions multiple times and try to dissect them.

Ask yourself: What information is the question asking for? Which part of the syllabus does it relate to? This process can help jog your memory and relate the question to something you’ve studied. The objective here is not to get a perfect score on this question, but to answer with enough understanding and relevance to secure as many marks as you can.

These four tricks are not about cutting corners or finding loopholes; instead, they focus on effective exam strategies, well-grounded in understanding your own learning process and the dynamics of the exam. By implementing these strategies, you can aim for success in your IB and IGCSE exams with a calm mind and confident approach. Remember, the goal is not perfection but understanding and articulating what you know. Good luck!


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