How successful IB Diploma students avoid common pitfalls: Hear from our IBDP top performer

Selina D Souza
Aug 11, 2021

“We’re here to make a dent in the universe.”- Steve Jobs

Believing in your ability to change a given situation can open the doors to success. GIIS IB Diploma Programme student, Vaideha Sathe, who scored a perfect 45 points in the 2021 exams ‘had to adapt and reorganise’ when the Covid-19 pandemic turned his plans upside down. Instead of focusing on the things that he could not do because of restrictions, he made the most of what was available, and focused on his goals.

One example of his tenaciousness was when he was unable to conduct some of his planned experiments in the lab physically for his independent research project. When some restrictions were lifted and he was allowed to go into the lab after many months to collect data, he worked extra fast and longer each week so that he could collect all the data that he needed in the limited time available.

17-year-old Sathe likes to play table tennis, badminton, the guitar and video games like other teens, and also loves to brew coffee and cook, unlike many teens.  Living in Singapore for 13 years, he joined GIIS in Grade 8 and transitioned from the IGCSE curriculum to IBDP. While he found the IB coursework challenging, he says, his teachers and classmates helped him along the way.

Sathe has accepted an offer from Imperial College, London to study molecular bioengineering as he plans to get into research in the field of synthetic biology. We spoke to him to know more about how he took up the challenges of student life that has brought him academic and all-round success. 

Here are some tips from Vaideha on what you can do to avoid common mistakes:

1. Choose subjects you are passionate about

There’s no better way to understand this than knowing that if you choose the subjects you genuinely are interested in, learning can only be fun and rewarding.

“I don't have a favourite subject as I was very careful to choose subjects I was genuinely passionate about at the start of IB. The TOK (Theory of Knowledge) component in the IB is inherently challenging and like nothing you've likely done before. 

I watched videos, analysed sample essays, and read articles and blogs to improve my grasp on the subject. It is very important that you choose a topic you are genuinely interested in for your Extended Essay (EE) as you will be putting in months of effort into it. It is easier to keep yourself motivated if you enjoy your subject,” says Sathe.

2. Manage time wisely

As a student, a very common mistake is the habit of procrastination and leaving things for tomorrow that never comes. Learning to prioritise your goals and managing time from an early age helps. “Managing my time and keeping my head level even when under pressure was a learning experience. If you are backed up with work (which you will be, at some point in the course) you need to be able to persevere through and get it done.  The IB helped me learn and push my personal limits of mental stamina, be it writing 40 pages of a research paper overnight or understanding the course content,” says Sathe.


3. Make time for extracurriculars to avoid burnouts

Making time for an extracurricular activity you love can rejuvenate you for academic challenges. Don’t overload yourself though! 

“I always set aside time in the day to focus on hobbies and to relax. It was to ensure equal parts studies and enjoyment. As an avid table tennis player, I participated in inter school table tennis competitions regularly. I was also selected to represent Singapore at the World Robotics Olympiad in Sochi, Russia in 2014.”

“In school I was part of a few clubs and volunteered at an animal shelter for most of Year 1. I would usually set aside some time in the week to do a CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) activity or learn something new just to keep my brain refreshed. This really helped prevent burnout and pushed me to finish my work faster,” adds Sathe.

4. Participate in clubs as grooming for later responsibilities in life

It’s always a great idea to learn new skills. Participating in camps and clubs can not only develop social skills but are surely a lot of fun! 

“I took part in the Mission Discovery boot camp held by ISSET and NASA in 2019, where we worked on an experiment for the International Space Station with a goal focussing towards the betterment of human society. 

I also started a student company with 11 of my friends as part of the Junior Achievement Company Of the Year (COY) 2020 competition, where we developed, manufactured, marketed and sold a product with funding from fellow student investors over a span of six months. 

Additionally, I was the head of logistics in the Astronomy Club, and helped plan and carry out various events throughout Year 1,” shares Sathe.

Vaideha Sathe

5. Pay attention to internal assessments

“Keep a consistent timetable throughout the IB as doing two hours of work every day is better than spending 8-9 hours studying one day before exams, cramming everything in. Don't procrastinate in your Internal Assessments, EE or TOK essay to prioritise studying for exams; treat both with equal importance,” advises Sathe.

6. Take breaks as rewards for finishing set tasks; stay motivated

“Planning ahead with focus on milestones, giving myself breaks and rewarding myself after finishing a set task, all helped me to stay motivated throughout the IBDP course. Also, I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing. It was interesting and stimulating work where I strived to push myself to do better. I’m proud of the work I've done in my DP,” adds Sathe.

School life can be challenging, rewarding and full of incredible times with friends and teachers. “GIIS can be summed into three words: interesting, competitive and supportive. The teachers were very open and helpful with any questions or issues we had and always went that extra mile to give us more help where we needed it. 

Our IBDP coordinator, Deepa ma'am, always checked on us to make sure we were doing okay and supported us whenever we felt overworked or under pressure. 

My first introduction to synthetic biology was in a seminar hosted by the school in Year 1. That seminar sparked my interest in the field,” Sathe says, as he fondly remembers the fun times with friends ‘sitting and chatting together every day for lunch at the canteen’.

Getting to know a little more about Vaideha’s IBDP journey was an interesting experience for us. Hope you felt that way too! Here’s wishing Vaideha a very successful and fulfilling stint at Imperial College. With the solid foundation built in his years at GIIS, we’re sure he will be able to thrive in his university and life journey. We wish him all the very best! 

If you wish to know more about the IB Diploma Programme at GIIS, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly admissions team.

Selina D Souza

Selina D'souza is a Senior Communications specialist with 10+ years of marketing communications experience in the B2B and B2C IT and Education sector. She is a passionate curator of good content, believes that schools can be a place of creativity and innovation if the right mindset and practices are adopted, and is always looking for more sustainable lifestyle choices.

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