5 Tips to Help Overcome That WTF Feeling in IB Physics

ib physics Aug 19, 2021

This video mentions the IB Physics: Starter Study Kit. You can download your free copy here: www.gradepod.com/study 

You’ve probably had that feeling too.... The moment you realised IB Physics is an entirely new world, and the workload just piles up.

As your first year of IB physics progresses, it can be overwhelming to realise this subject is so different from what we learned in our high school classes - WTF?

It's a whole different ball game when faced with 6 subjects at once (I'm not lying), ToK AND stacks of homework piling up on your desk every night!

So… how do you handle the overwhelm?

Firstly - don't worry.

Secondly - you're not alone!

Thirdly - follow my 5 simple tips to help bring order and confidence back into your physics study:

Tip 1: It’s hard at the Start - Face it!

IB Physics is a two year course for good reason. It takes 2 years to develop advanced problem solving skills and expert exam technique needed in order to achieve the coveted “7” grade on IB physics exams.

But don't despair! You're not doomed from day one as you may think - but instead, keep your chin up because every minute spent studying has its reward when it comes time for those all-important tests at semester end; or perhaps even sooner than that if you've been diligent enough with the practising of problem-solving (see tip number 3 😉!)

Tip 2: Write revision note from Day 1

It’s tempting to write your revision notes before the exam, but you should really be focusing on mastering past papers and developing good test taking techniques.

I know what you’re thinking - I don’t need revision notes or I’ll just use pre-written ones. WRONG! These will not serve any purpose to you. Your brain need to condense the course itself in it’s own way to make sure they go into your head properly.

It’s time to start writing those revision notes RIGHT NOW! Every time you complete a topic in class - devote 15-30 minutes to condense that topic into 2 sides of A4 paper. These will serve as revision notes for your class tests and exams.

If you need help with that - check out my IB Physics Starter Study Kit (It’s free!). It will provide you with a revision note template AND SO MUCH MORE!

The first page of my revision note template looks like this:

The IB Physics: Starter Study Kit contains the full version AND exact instructions on how to complete revision notes in 15 minutes for each topic.

Download your free IB Physics starter study pack here

Tip 3: Learn to love problem solving

You’ve got to learn to love the challenge of solving problems and accept that you are probably going to fail at the start. Honestly - that’s just a good life lesson (as well as super relevant for IB Physics)

IB Physics problems are multi-layered, spanning different topics and relying on an underlying foundation of mathematical knowledge. Even in Year 1 IB physics class, these questions will make you feel like a failure at first; but that’s the only way to improve! Learning how to solve them is important for your future career so start practicing now by solving as many as possible.

And remember…. Tell yourself,

“I love problem-solving! It’s so much fun!”

Tip 4: Practice Past Paper Questions from Day 1

OK- so your teacher is going to set you homework and you’re probably going to have to do it… This homework might be a set of problems based on the concept you are studying at the moment in class. Ideally, those problems would be past paper questions (from previous IB Physics exam papers) to allow to you familiarise yourself with the format of the question. If your teacher is NOT using past paper questions, then please use your initiative and find past paper questions (split up by topic) and practice them yourself. In the first year of IB, you’ll probably get most of them wrong. That’s ok. I promise that in the second year - they will become much easier! There are literally thousands of past paper questions out there - so don’t worry about ‘saving some for your final exam revision’

Once you’ve completed these past exam question - use my magic marking grid - it will help you identify what you EXACTLY need to improve in exam-style questions to get top marks.

You can find my magic marking grid inside my IB Physics Starter Study Kit (It’s free!). It will provide you with a magic marking grid AND SO MUCH MORE!

Tip 5: Get the relationship with your teacher right

Believe it or not - your teacher is paid to teach you BUT they are not paid to care……

In order for them to really care about your progress in IB Physics, you are BOTH responsible for nurturing a relationship of mutual respect.

If you spend time getting your teacher on your side, they’ll be more likely to find time in their busy day to help you.

How do you do this?

I think it’s best to explain how to get your teacher on your side with the following two different situations:


Waves is a huge topic and you’ve probably been learning it for 2 months in class! You can’t ask a teacher to cover a vague and significant chunk of the course at the end of a lesson (the day before a test!). This situation offers no evidence that you have made an effort in your own individual study. I know I’m British and obsessed with politeness, but the student did not even say ‘please’!

If I were the teacher, I would politely refuse to help.


The student in this situation has clearly devoted time to their own individual study. They have been considerate of the teacher’s time and are asking politely for help with specific questions at the start of the lesson. The teacher will have time to look through the questions during the course of the lesson and could even offer help while other students are occupied.

If I were the teacher, I’d be delighted to help.


Can you see that the way you approach your individual study and how you physically approach your teacher makes a big difference as to how they view you as a student? Please work on nurturing a mutual relationship of respect (even if you don't like your teacher!). You'll get more help that way.

It's also a hard fact of life that you will have to work with people you don't like in life. Might as well start practising for that now!

Tips 2 & 4 referred to my IB Physics Starter Study Kit. No matter what stage you are at in IB Physics, this free IB Physics study starter pack will help you organise your class work, improve grades in class tests and excel in exam revision.

Click the image below to download your copy:

Hope this helps!


P.S. If you like tips like this and prefer podcasts.... you can listen to this episode of "Stress Free IB Physics" here  (please listen, subscribe and review!)

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