Avoiding the distraction that is the internet is one of the main study tips I can offer for IB success, however there are many apps/websites that may make revision and studying easier and maybe even fun (???). Here is a list of 10 that I used over the two years of IB. I am also planning on using many of them in my future education:
Quizlet is an app and website that you’ve probably already heard of. If you haven’t, where have you been? Quizlet is an app for making ‘digital’ flashcards and reviewing them in a variety of ways, including games, typing the answer in or simply as regular flashcards. I found these flashcards most useful for:
- English: Learning key literary devices, learning definitions and memorising quotes for the literature paper (Paper 2)
- Geography: learning definitions
- Biology/Chemistry: learning definitions word for word
- German (any foreign language): learning vocabulary
StudyBlue is very similar to Quizlet in that you make ‘digital’ flashcards, but I found that I liked some of the options better for certain topics and subjects. For example, an amazing feature of StudyBlue is that when you begin making a new flashcard, it will come up with suggestions of similar cards that other people have made that you may want to add to your own deck. Reviewing flashcards is also more rewarding, as for each card you can say whether you understand it or not, which gives you a score (as a percentage) of how many you got right at the end. I began using StudyBlue for all my flashcards, before I decided that I preferred Quizlet for basic definitions, but continued using it for ‘longer’ answer cards. For example, for Biology and Chemistry, I made ‘Quiz’ decks. In these decks, I would write a question on one side of the card and the answer on the other – in this way I was able to learn the most difficult concepts in an interactive way.
Wanderlust is my go-to to do list app. I use this app on my IPhone and Macbook (although it is also available on Android and online) and add in any tasks that come to mind. I then organise these into separate folders so that I can separate the areas of my life. I also used it to note down any homework I had to do, using the ‘subtasks’ and ‘notes’ features to further plan out or note down the work that had to be completed.
OneNote, often cited as an alternative to the popular Evernote, is an amazing app for taking notes in a creative format. I used OneNote mainly for my English notes, which required long essays and writing, with a lot of highlighting and annotating. Had I done this by hand, it would have been a lot messier and taken a lot longer. The only thing that I don’t like about this app is that it is very difficult (impossible, in my opinion), to print the notes.
All students in the IB have to learn a foreign language (or do two first languages, although the former is much more common). Duolingo is a great way to pick up some new vocabulary, practice pronunciation and learn some good phrases. I used it for German, but also to maintain the other languages that I learned previously, namely French. This is a great app to use when you’re travelling or waiting somewhere, although there are some exercises that require you to speak.
Forest is an app that allows you to ‘block’ your phone for a short period of time (anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours) to prevent you from getting distracted by social media and games. It’s a great way to track your progress and see how much ‘concentrated’ studying you are actually doing each day.
7. Google Drive
This app (or a similar one) is crucial for staying organised and not losing your work, especially as there is a lot of it. I used Google Drive to store scanned copies of my notes (which you can buy by sending me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org), assignments, copies of my Internal Assessments, my Extended Essay and other random notes. It’s also a great way of storing things because it is easy to access from anywhere, including the school computers or your phone.
Spotify was my favourite source of music, especially as you don’t have to create any playlists yourself if you are short on time. I loved all the playlists designed to help you concentrate and study, such as ‘Deep Focus’.
KhanAcademy is what got me through IB Chemistry HL and IB Maths HL. There are videos and practice questions on all topics and also on other subjects such as Economics, Biology and Physics. Using the app, you can download videos to watch without an internet connection, so you can watch them on the bus, at school or with your phone on airplane mode to prevent yourself getting distracted by social media.
This one is a bit risky to put down, but Instagram helped me to stay motived to work. How, you may ask? Well, I followed a lot of study gram accounts. Now, the way to use this app to help with IB success is not to use it as an excuse to use social media, because you are looking for inspiration or motivation, but rather to see motivational posts while you are already (inevitably) scrolling through Instagram. Some of my favourite accounts include: @studykween, @lydia.studies, @waystostudy, @studyign_com, @boy.study and @medreamm