Hi everyone, I’m Alexander! I completed my IB programme at DBS with 45 points in 2020, a year where both students and teachers have had to adapt to numerous changing circumstances. I am currently preparing to study Law at Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge.
About DBS IB
One of the biggest challenges faced by our cohort was to stay afloat in the midst of the pandemic. As a student experiencing such seismic changes for the first time, it was especially reassuring to see our school being extremely responsive to the challenges the virus has brought on. We were well-informed about the newest courses of action promptly after the announcements for suspension of school, and later the cancellation of the IB diploma exams. Our IB department’s philosophy of getting most of the coursework done before March in the final year proved helpful for me, as it ensured that I could finish most of the work at a time when teachers were physically around to resolve any questions I might have.
Besides striving for good academic results in the face of challenges, the IB learner profile also encourages us to embrace balanced development. The unique pre-IB bridging year at G10 offers a simulated version of the actual IB, all while giving us ample time to grow independent through making mistakes. In lesson time and in specially designed IB skills classes, we focused on honing necessary skills like time management, critical thinking and self-initiated revision. For me, the wide range of high-performing extracurriculars on offer at DBS synergized strongly with the CAS (creativity, activity, service) component of the IB. I was encouraged to meaningfully reflect on my experiences, such as leading public speaking workshops and putting together our school’s own TEDxYouth event. Not only did it ensure that my time outside the classroom wasn’t wasted, it also challenged me to find ways to become a better speaker and organiser. These factors combined push us boys at DBS to excel intellectually, physically and emotionally.
Studying the IB programme also kept me well-conditioned for my university applications. Taking Economics and History at Higher Level primed me to maintain a strong sense towards argumentative structure, while my studies in Language and Literature trained me to put myself in the shoes of the reader when I’m both analysing and composing texts. These helped me take on the requisite admissions tests for law applicants, which required close analysis of passages and writing concise argumentative essays in a short period of time. The frequent use of a discussion-based format in class also conditioned me for my interviews at Cambridge, where I discussed legal passages with members of the Law Faculty there. I anticipate that these skills will continue to serve me as I tackle new challenges presented by studying Law at university level.
Message to Present and Future IB Boys
1. Share and contribute
My time in the IB has taught me that everyone comes up with a great question or idea once in a while – yes, everyone! Don’t hesitate to pipe up in class if you don’t understand something, no matter how unsophisticated the question may seem in your head – chances are, someone else might be wondering about the same thing and would be glad you asked. In addition to classroom contribution, our culture of collaborative revision amongst friends (sometimes across different years) can also be hugely beneficial. Combining everyone’s two cents to create study notes will allow you to notice a larger variety of points and contribute to each other’s knowledge pool. Hence, make an effort contribute to your class, to the programme and to your community.
2. Learn to ‘deal with it’
The IB curriculum is designed to be rigorous and demanding, so a lot of times even the best of us will find ourselves complaining to each other about the difficulty of tasks we have to complete. Despite the occasional light-hearted bickering, I find it most admirable that once the bell rings and we get back home, each one of us settles down to deal with the problems that seemed so hard to overcome the day before. Therefore, as part of your education here, you will embrace the spirit of ‘dealing with it’ and carrying on, even when it feels like you’re having a hard time. Just remember that even though you’re training to become more independent, you’re definitely not alone and can seek help anytime.
3. Keep asking yourself how you can get better
Throughout the course, I was given many opportunities to reflect and evaluate, be it writing evaluating my own performance at various stages of writing the 4000-word extended essay, or combing through some sample essays to figure out where I messed up in the last test. To current IB boys, I encourage you to treasure these opportunities to make solid improvements, and take the initiative to reflect on how to get better even in places where evaluation isn’t a compulsory requirement. We don’t learn from experience as much as we do reflecting upon experience, so don’t stop finding ways you can think, speak and live better than yourself.