Interviews with current Grade 11 students on their IB journeys


The IB often refers to the programme as being like a marathon, one that cannot be sprinted and instead must be steadily paced! As challenging as a marathon (or in this case the IB) is, it’s important to appreciate the small things and joyous moments along the way!

As the current Grade 11s complete their halfway mark of the IB and knowing how filled the Grade 10s are with anticipation of what awaits them, we have decided to provide students with the opportunity to share their personal experiences and challenges they have encountered over this past year, as well as share some advice they have for all of you who are entering the diploma programme after the summer.

The questions that were asked in the interview were the following:

  • What made you choose your specific subjects for the IB and what is it that you would like to go into at University?
  • What have you found most challenging during the IB? 
  • Was there ever a time where you questioned your subject choices? 
  • Do you have any advice for the future Grade 11s? 

We carried out the interview by asking people about a specific subject, to show the different areas of focus selected by individual students and how these differ from one another.

The first person interviewed was Lucy Daly, who’s HL subjects are: History, English Literature and Theatre. She gave the following responses to the questions.

“Because I want to study history at University, I chose to take a combination of history, English literature and theatre, because they give me a well rounded perspective of essay writing and allow me to build confidence in forming arguments. I would definitely say that I find the content in history the most challenging, as there is always a lot to learn and most big topics are broken down into lots of small subsections. I find it really interesting though and because everyone in the class is really enthusiastic and passionate about history, this helps to keep me motivated.”

Lucy has never questioned her subject choice of history. Originally she had chosen Geography but switched right before the summer holidays, because she realised that history interested her more and looking back, is glad that she made this choice, because she feels as though this suits her well.

As for advice she mentions, “always completing the reading. There is a lot to learn and the reading really helps to give you a better and deeper understanding of the material that is covered in class.”

Maria, who is an art student and is interested in pursuing fashion design at University also provided an insightful perspective into the demands of taking Art at Higher Level.

“For the IB I chose subjects that I feel passionately about now, that I may not necessarily be able to pursue in University, which I think is the beauty of taking the IB. I picked a range of subjects that I wanted to know more about and that in combination allow me to become the best student that I can be. One of the challenges I faced this year, specifically in art, was making sure I was prioritizing it and not letting other people’s perception of art alter my own. Sometimes I underestimate the class, which is something I have learned not to do, because it’s a lot of work, in fact more than any of my other HL classes! Creative block and burnout are very common, particularly in a demanding programme like the IB, because you’re always expected to have more. I never questioned taking art at HL though, because I know that I love it and even though it’s a lot of work, it what keeps me inspired.

In terms of advice for anyone choosing art as an IB subject, be ready to try new things, explore new ways of thinking and producing art. Make sure to always be taking pictures and become a sponge so you can absorb everything around you, without it burning you out, as this is where the inspiration for new pieces often arises!”

Moreover, offering my own perspective and looking at the psychological pathway, I picked my subjects based on my dream of pursuing psychology at University level, but also combining them with subjects that I have always enjoyed throughout my school years. I really wanted to make sure to create a balance in terms of the subjects I picked, which I think is important for anyone choosing to take the IB. One thing that I found challenging initially was balancing my academic and social life, whilst taking both Biology and Psychology at HL, as they are both extremely demanding and content heavy classes.

There has never been a time at which I have questioned choosing psychology as one of my HL classes, as it has always been a subject that has particularly interested me. I have however felt burnt out before, but because I know that ultimately it is what I want to study and spend my future pursuing, this has always kept me motivated.

In terms of advice for anyone embarking on their IB journey, it’s important to choose subjects that you are passionate about. Although finding effective techniques for revision can be challenging, trying out various different methods and finding the one that works best for you can be really useful. For psychology specifically, be ready to engage in class, and be willing to work outside of the subject as well, as it does go a long way and prepares you for the exams so well!

We also spoke to Stacey, who actually isn’t taking the full IB diploma programme and instead switched to IB courses, as she would like to study musical theatre at University level. Taking courses allowed her to pursue both music and theatre, which she wouldn’t be able to take in combination, had she remained with the full IB. She mentioned that being a native Korean and hence English not being her native language, she found it challenging to understand subjects like psychology, due to the terminology it includes. A piece of advice that she has for any upcoming Grade 11s is not to let others overwhelm you and to ensure that you are finding time to rest and do things you enjoy, rather than using all of your free time to revise.

Furthermore, Chinua shared her dream of wanting to pursue law at University.

“I picked my subjects not only based on the requirements for law courses, in case I changed my mind throughout the IB and didn’t want to restrict myself in any way by closing any doors. I feel like it is important to choose subjects that you like and then make sure that they are compatible with what you want to do in the future. In terms of advice for the upcoming Grade 11s, I would recommend taking subjects that you like and not for the sole reason of basing them on your choice of University!”

Mibu is a student thinking of majoring either in journalism or sociology at University, which is why she chose subjects that she knew she could do well in and that wouldn’t stress her out to a point of exhaustion. As she is planning on studying in Japan, once having completed the IB, she chose to take Japanese at A at HL, as this will benefit her most. She said that “the most challenging part of the IB is the Extended Essay, as you have to complete this assignment in your own time and ensure that you stay on top of the deadlines that Marymount provides you with. It is incredibly easy to fall behind, as there is so much other work that you are constantly bombarded with, but setting aside planned time really helps with this.”

To conclude, although each of the students that were interviewed chose very distinct subjects to pursue, they all share the same advice of ensuring that the choices you make are ones that you enjoy and are passionate about. If you have any further questions, any of the current Grade 11s would be more than happy to talk to you about their experience or share any advice they have!