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Why is IB Physics so hard?

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Before starting GradePod, I was an IB Physics tutor. I was honoured to help lots of struggling students around the world.

One of the questions I was asked many times was, "Why is IB Physics so Hard?"

Many students are shocked by the level of difficulty when they start their IB Physics lessons in school and panic when they receive the results of their first class test.

Here's a message I got last week:

These scores can be really shocking for some IB Physics students - especially ones who sailed through their GCSE qualifications and are expecting a 7 in IB Physics.

Are you one of these IB Physics student wondering why physics is so hard??

You might be wondering if you chose the right subject. You might even be considering dropping down from Higher Level (HL) to Standard Level (SL) before you've given the course a chance.


 IB Physics is hard for three reasons


  1. IB Physics requires advanced problem-solving skills. It's not like other subjects. It requires an underpinning of maths and problem-solving ability before you even think about the physics involved.
  2. IB Physics starts with the hardest topic. The IB Physics specification usually means that Mechanics is taught within the first month of lessons. Mechanics is hard! AND it's the most heavily-weighted topic in the final exams.
  3. The past paper questions seem more difficult than the concepts because the exam technique required to answer the questions is a skill in itself!

So you might be happily learning Mechanics for the first month of the course and are suddenly hit with a class test that includes Mechanics past papers questions and... guess what...?

You fail.

(or you don't get the high marks you are use to - which is not a failure but it feels like one)

This is not a reason to despair. Honestly!

The hard fact is that you will really only be capable of tackling IB Physics past paper questions when you have had time to develop the problem-solving skills necessary to ace the exam. That’s why mechanics questions feel so hard AND that’s why mechanics is taught at the start of the course. It takes two years to develop these skills.

Another hard fact is that Mechanics will make up a significant portion of your final exam paper and the mechanics exam questions tend to be convoluted, with many different concepts woven into one question. It takes two years to learn how to do these questions - you are not going to be good at them within one month of starting the IB Physics course. You should spend the next year developing and practising Mechanics past paper questions.

I have news for you… when you start IB Physics, you are at the stage of developing these necessary problem-solving skills:

  • You are going to find it difficult/frustrating.
  • You are going to fail a lot of questions before you start to see the answers more clearly.

It’s honestly all part of the process and I know that if you keep working - you will be fine (and get a great mark!). 


GradePod's 4 Step Success Path: Making IB Physics So Easy!


I've been teaching IB Physics since 2004, and I've been working online with IB Physics students worldwide since Jan 2014. After tackling the formidable world of IB Physics and guiding countless students through its challenges, I've distilled my experience into a clear and actionable 4-Step Success Path. This framework is designed not just to help you survive but to thrive in IB Physics. I go into wayyyyyy more detail on this in my 4-Step Guide to Scoring a 7 in IB Physics.


Step 1: Master the Majority

Start by mastering the basics. This initial phase focuses on developing a deep understanding of fundamental concepts, especially in Mechanics, to ensure a solid groundwork.


Step 2: Activate the Application

Next, we amplify your problem-solving skills. This involves extensive practice with past papers, honing your ability to dissect and solve complex problems, which are crucial for tackling Mechanics effectively.


Step 3: Propel Your Progress

Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of IB Physics exam techniques. It’s about understanding not just what the questions ask, but how to approach them strategically to maximise your marks.


Step 4: Get the Grade

The final step involves simulating exam conditions to test your knowledge and refine your approach. This stage prepares you mentally and academically for the rigors of the actual exam.


If you're feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about tackling IB Physics on your own, TrIBe Physics is here to guide you every step of the way. With our structured approach, tailored support, and community of like-minded learners, you’ll gain not only knowledge but also confidence.

By joining TrIBe Physics, you’re not just getting access to expert guidance; you’re becoming part of a community that is invested in your success. Our platform offers interactive resources, personalised feedback, and ongoing support to ensure that no question goes unanswered and no topic feels insurmountable. Don’t let doubt hold you back. Embrace the challenge and let us help you transform it into your success story. Visit TrIBe Physics to start your journey toward acing IB Physics and beyond.

Remember, every expert was once a beginner. With TrIBe Physics, you’re setting the stage for outstanding achievement in IB Physics. Let’s make it happen, together!


Conclusion: Why is IB Physics So Hard?

To circle back to our initial question: why is IB Physics so hard? It's not just the complex subject matter but also the approach and skills required. IB Physics challenges you to think critically, solve complex problems, and apply concepts in dynamic ways, which are all skills that take time and practice to develop. But with the right support system, like TrIBe Physics, and a commitment to our 4-step success path, you can turn the difficulty of IB Physics into an opportunity for tremendous growth and success.

Push past the initial shock of difficulty, and you'll find that conquering IB Physics is not only possible but incredibly rewarding.

It's going to be ok - I promise


Hope this helps

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