Interview with Max Han, IBDP 2019 Top Achiever (Scored 45 points)
The IBDP 2019 results were released recently. The school is very proud of all our students who graduated with flying colours. We managed to catch our IBDP 2019 Top Achiever, Max Han who scored 45 points, the highest possible. He has shared with us his experience, during his IBDP years at SKIS, which led him to achieve these outstanding results.
About Han Kai Ding Max
1) Can you share more about yourself?
My full name is Han Kai Ding Max. I’m 18 years old. I love water sports, especially swimming as it’s my way of de-stressing after a long hard day. I love reading as I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and enjoy learning. On my creative side, I love painting as it trains me to focus and to be patient.
2) Can you share your study methods?
I believe there is no right way to study. Do what’s best for you. My study methods are quite unconventional. As I’m a visual and kinesthetic learner, I do not learn well by sitting at the same spot for hours, flipping through textbooks, forcing information to go in. I learn well by incorporating hands-on activities such as singing, drawing, acting or colouring it out. Another great tip is to ensure you have good learning materials. For instance, textbooks may not always be the best resource, online tutorials could do a better job explaining concepts.
Additionally, I try not to study too long as I have a short attention span. I strongly believe in taking breaks and naps in between study sessions. As such, it’s about the quality of study sessions, not the quantity.
1) Why did you choose to do the IBDP in Sri KDU International School (SKIS)?
I was awarded a full scholarship by the school which opened up the opportunity for me to do the IBDP.
2) How different is the IBDP from the IGCSE?
Here’s my take on this. The IBDP is incomparable to IGCSE in all aspects. From doing the IGCSEs, you learn how to memorise and spot repetitive patterns in past papers to score. From doing the IB, you learn how to think critically and not blindly accept everything as it is.
3) What subjects did you take for your IBDP? Why did you choose this subject combination?
HL: Bio, Chem, English Language & Literature // SL: Economics, Mandarin, Maths
Just like most teenagers, I haven’t figured out my major yet. This subject combination allows flexibility in going down a career pathway of the Arts or Sciences.
4) What did you do for Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)? Please explain the activities you did? E.g projects, trips
I did so much for CAS! There’s too many to list but the most memorable CAS experiences for me was my work with refugees, where I taught underprivileged children Maths, English and World Issues. I got to hear their stories and background which really impacted on my perspective on life. Furthermore, I was the Chairperson of the Cambodia CAS Trip Fundraising, where we raised about RM14,000+ to build a school for the underprivileged. In order to achieve that, I spearheaded a lot of creative events such as the first annual SKIS Spirit Week, an Interclass Football Tournament, ‘Buy a Brick, Leave a Legacy’, etc. The best thing, however, was getting to go to Cambodia’s Treak Village Community to see the impact of our efforts.
On a different note, I was involved with a lot of water sports. I planned and led the Swimming and Water Polo CCL for the younger years and also got my lifesaving and CPR certification, qualifying me to be a lifeguard, regionally and internationally.
5) What was your topic for the Extended Essay (EE)? Can you elaborate about EE?
An exploration of love between the main characters in Andre Aciman’s novel, ‘Call Me by Your Name’. I really enjoyed writing my EE, as I got to develop my analytical skills and learning about the psychological aspects of the abstract concept of love.
6) Theory of Knowledge (TOK): Can you describe this further?
In a nutshell, TOK is “how do we know what we currently know?”. It’s a simplified form of epistemology (branch of philosophy) and is unexpectedly quite applicable in the real world. It’s one of my favourite subjects to learn as it involves a lot of philosophical and intellectual discussions that can be really mind-blowing.
7) Can you share your experience studying the IBDP?
I had many ups and downs when doing the IBDP. The whole experience was at times negative, in the sense that I had to sacrifice a lot and go through so many struggles, in a short period of time, but mainly positive because I learnt and matured so much in those short 2 years.
8) How would you describe the learning environment here at Sri KDU International School?
SKIS has a great learning environment for IB students. Many of our classes are fun and interactive which is important to have for an unconventional programme like the IB which requires creative and critical thinking as well as insight.
9) Have you received any awards/recognitions before?
Throughout my IB years, I was awarded the CAS award, for my work with refugees during my first year and the Principal’s Award of Excellence for some of the subjects I did well in.
10) What are the challenges and obstacles you faced during the IBDP programme and how did you overcome them?
Personally, the IBDP was not only academically challenging for me but mentally too. IB’s academic content demands high standards of critical thinking and an insightful perspective, which took me a long time to adapt to. Moreover, I was heavily involved in sports, as well as many side projects and extra-curricular activities which made juggling the academic workload difficult. As such, I struggled a lot for the past two years. However, I do not regret one bit of it as I learnt a lot of life lessons and made huge progress in my personal development, through the various mistakes I’ve made, over the past two years. To overcome these struggles, I adopted a “have faith, no expectations, just do your best” solution-focused mindset that allowed me to stay calm throughout the obstacles I faced in this course.
11) How has the IBDP developed you as an individual?
The IBDP put me into difficult positions and really tested my limits by making me do things I never could have done. It has caused me to lose myself, but find myself in the process of recovery. I think I’m currently a more fearless, confident and wiser individual with a better mindset towards life.
12) Would you be able to share any tips on achieving a high score in IBDP?
a) Have fun in everything you do. When you’re happy and open-minded, miracles happen. That includes studying. Study to learn; study because you want to. Learning is a positive and empowering experience, don’t ever let anything (like exams, teachers) ruin it.
b) Grit. I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but keep going. Good or bad, nothing is permanent and it will pass.
c) Have faith, no expectations and just do your best. High expectations only lead to disappointment. As things don’t always work out the way you want, choose to have faith in your intelligence and abilities to power through any unprecedented obstacle instead.
d) Ask for help. Be it academic or emotional help. You can’t do everything alone. If no one wants to help you, you’re asking the wrong people.
e) Be kind and selfless. Share your notes, teach others, help them with their assignments. Not only is sharing knowledge empowering, but others will also help you in return, in the most unexpected ways, along your journey.
Future plans & Advice
1) What are your plans now?
I’m taking a gap year and will be applying to universities during this time. I haven’t figured everything out yet, especially my major and would like to take the year off to gain work experience, acquire new skills, meet new people, travel and spend more time with my family.
2) Do you have any advice for future IBDP students?
Pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional. Life isn’t meant to be taken seriously all the time, have fun in your journey and be open-minded about learning, be it academic or life lessons.
We here at SKIS would like to congratulate Max Han once again for his excellent results and we wish him all the best for his future. We are so proud of you!