Interview with IBDP 2020 Top Achievers
Our heartiest congratulations to the IBDP Class of 2020! The school is very proud of all our students who graduated with flying colours. The class average is an excellent 35.5 points which is over 5 points above the world average of 30.
 
We managed to catch both of our Valedictorians Kelly Pua and Sasheena Monerasinghe who achieved 41 points. Sasheena who is also our SKIS CAS Award Recipient and Kelly shared with us their experience, during their IBDP years at Sri KDU International School (SKIS), which led them to achieve these outstanding results. 
 
 
 
About Kelly
Can you share more about yourself?
Hi, I’m Kelly. I love learning about the arts and humanities and am quite passionate about social justice issues. I am an introvert but still enjoy being active in school by participating and organising events. 
 
Since when did you join SKIS?
I joined in Year 7, back in 2013. 
 
Can you share your study methods?
I find doing past years very helpful and I take note on the marking scheme to understand the examiner’s expectations. I make sure my notes are concise and effective by simplifying the content in the textbook or from our lessons so that they are easy to be memorised. For subjects like Geography and History, I find discussions with my classmates is very useful. 
 
About IBDP
Why did you choose to do IBDP?
I find a course that has coursework very appealing as a course with full focus on the exams is too much pressure. The full scholarship I received from Sri KDU also played a part in choosing to do IB over A-Levels.
 
What subjects did you take for your IBDP? Why did you choose this subject combination?
I took Higher Level Geography, History, English Language and Literature. Meanwhile, I took Standard Level Maths, Biology and Malay B. I have chosen to do this subject combination because I was more interested in the Humanities than Sciences and Maths. I also knew that my strength was essay writing which has led me to take mostly essay writing subjects.
 
Can you share your experience studying the IBDP?
There were times where I felt I had a lot of work to do, whether academic or related to the events I was organising. The Internal Assesment (IA) season, which is in Term 1 of our senior year, was very tough due to mounting deadlines as all of our coursework was suddenly due. However, I’d say I still enjoy studying in SKIS IB. My relationship with the teachers was unlike what I experienced from Year 7 to Year 11 due to the class size. This enabled the teachers to give us extra attention. The small class size which only comprised of 20 people, also meant that there was a very close-knit and supportive community in SKIS IB, and I know I have made lifelong friends here. 
 
Being able to go on class trips such as CAS trip and Cambodia trip also strengthened my bond with my friends. Academically, there are content in the IB that I enjoyed learning such as in English, where we were able to analyse song lyrics. Even though I didn’t get to do the IB exams and prove my ability fully, I would still not regret doing IB at SKIS.
 
What are the challenges and obstacles you faced during the IBDP programme and how did you overcome them?
Time management will be one of the biggest challenges an IB student will face, as we not only have to juggle 6 subjects, but also an extra-curricular commitment for CAS and our Extended Essays and TOK work. To overcome that problem and to keep myself organised, I write down all my work due along with daily work goals on the sticky notes application on my laptop desktop. Another challenge I had to face was a more personal one, where I often took more tasks on my plate than I could realistically handle. I overcame this issue by being able to say no and relying on my classmates more—not that that was difficult since a lot of them are very dependable!
 
How has the IBDP developed you as an individual?
The IBDP has developed me to become more independent as I often had to do a lot of independent research, but it also taught me that if I needed help, there is no shame in asking for help, whether from my peers, seniors or teachers. I also gained a lot of confidence as a leader; When I first took on the role of Head Organiser of [email protected], I doubted myself a lot as I was not sure if I was capable enough. Now that the event has passed successfully, I realised that I was indeed capable, and I just had to trust myself more. More specifically to SKIS IB, being in this supportive environment has helped me gain more confidence in social aspects. Most would say that IA season was the toughest, but for me, the toughest was in Term 1 of Junior Year, as at first, I felt like I didn’t fit in at all. Nonetheless, realising how friendly and inclusive my class is, especially with the fun things we did together like Secret Santa, Ice Skating and Rock Climbing, pushed me to become more open and now I have made a lot of good friends and good memories.
 
Would you be able to share any tips on achieving a high score in IBDP?
Pay attention in the class. Even if you may not have studied much, if you had paid attention in class, more information can be gained still. 
Procrastination will be the biggest inhibitor to your full potential. Even though the teachers can be quite flexible with deadlines, don’t take advantage of this and do your work before the due date. 
 
Future plans & Advice
What are your plans now?
I am currently interning for a women’s organisation, ‘WOMEN:girls’, until the end of August. I will then go to the UK in September to pursue Law at the London School of Economics. 
 
Do you have any advice for future IBDP students?
Do what you enjoy. Choose the subjects you are interested in. Look at subject entry requirements if you have a specific major in mind. But I think interest in a subject is what matters as it will motivate you through the two years of IB. I enjoyed most of my English, Geography and History lessons and that’s what made me absorb the information taught by my teachers easily. 
 
Another thing is to do CAS activities that you’ll enjoy doing. One such activity I took up was rock climbing, and even though it took up my weekends, I had so much fun that it just felt like I was going on an outing with my friends every Saturday rather than having it being an activity I was obligated to do. 
 
Don’t be afraid to take risks or try new things as well. If you’re deeply passionate about a history topic outside of the school syllabus and want to do it for your Extended Essay, then go for it. Never taught at a refugee school before? Then try it. 
 
IB may be challenging, but I don’t want to look back at these two years and feel like I wasted it. Take the academics seriously, but don’t forget to do things you enjoy too! 
 

 

About Sasheena
Can you share more about yourself?
Hi! My name is Sasheena and I have been at SKIS for 7 years. Throughout those 7 years, I have participated in numerous extra-curricular and charitable activities made available by the school. My favourite activities have to include sports of various kinds. Overall I am a caring individual who loves working in a team and is determined whenever set to a task. 
 
Can you share your study methods?
I am a planner! I make sure to set myself a realistic and specific study schedule which includes assignments that need to be completed and my self-studies. I like to look at the syllabus content beforehand and make sure I am reading ahead of what is being taught in class. By doing so I can absorb a lot more of what my teacher is teaching and can ask questions in areas I am unsure of. 
 
About IBDP
Why did you choose to do IBDP?
I chose the IBDP because after completing my IGCSE’s I was still unsure of my career path and what course I wanted to pursue in. Choosing the IBDP meant I was doing an international programme that was accepted by multiple countries and it allows me to take multiple subjects while gaining a holistic education. If I did not take all the subjects that I did at IB I would not have discovered which subjects I enjoyed and probably would not have figured out what I wanted to study at University. 
 
What subjects did you take for your IBDP? Why did you choose this subject combination?
My Higher Level subjects included English, Geography and Economics and my Standard Level subjects included Physics, Malay and Mathematics. I knew from my IGCSE studies that I had an affinity for Humanity and business subjects, therefore leading to my choice of HL subjects. I also knew that I wanted to go down a commerce route at University so I focus on HL subjects that would equip me for that. 
 
Can you share your experience studying the IBDP?
It’s tough at times. But overall I had an enjoyable experience studying the IBDP. This includes opportunities that allowed me to develop myself as an individual and acquire skills that are not just useful for University but also in my future career. One of the main reasons why I found it so enjoyable and was able to get through the tough times was because of the support system available at SKIS. Not only that the teachers were always willing to help but because the SKIS IBDP cohort is only made up of 20 students and everyone in the class develops a close friendship.  This student network of support helped me. 
 
What are the challenges and obstacles you faced during the IBDP programme and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges I faced during the IBDP which I know a lot of other students have faced as well is managing stress and the pressure of completing assignments while keeping up with the subject materials. I was able to overcome this by reflecting on how I was managing my situation and then took the time to prioritise all of my tasks. I had to make sure that I was being realistic with the goals I was setting for myself in terms of when I needed to finish a piece of work and started to prioritise taking breaks and relaxing once in a while. 
 
The supportive teachers at SKIS played a huge role in helping me to overcome the pressure of completing this programme as well. The teachers at SKIS are not just interested in the work we produce but they were also concerned with our well-being and were always willing to lend a helping hand and be flexible with the deadlines if they feel that we are struggling at the given timeline. 
 
How has the IBDP developed you as an individual?
The IBDP has developed me in so many aspects. Most importantly, IBDP has developed me to be a more resourceful and proactive learner. The IBDP is all about inquisitive learning and it aims to push students to ask questions and look beyond what is being taught in class. After completing all my IA’s and studying numerous chapters for different subjects it is safe to say that I have become quite comfortable with this and have a new-found appreciation for reading up outside the classroom. This is one of the skills is that will be helpful later in my University level and my future career. 
 
Would you be able to share any tips on achieving a high score in IBDP?
I think everything comes down to preparation. You need to make sure you are being realistic in the amount of time you are giving yourself to finish assignments or study for an exam. In any Pre-U courses, the workload is going to be tough and these two years are what is going to set you up for University and potentially your future career so during these two years, try to prioritize your studies because at the end of the day, it’s worth it! 
 
About CAS
Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS): Can you describe this further?
CAS is a platform for students to immerse themselves in activities that they enjoy and are passionate about. Not only that CAS allows students to take a break from the rigour of pre-U studies, but it also challenges students to get outside of their comfort zone as well as developing and grow as individuals. 
 
What did you do for Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)? Please explain the activities you did? E.g projects, trips
For Creativity, I took part in activities such as Watercolour workshops and participated in sketching and card designing competitions. For Activity, I took part in a Spartan Race, Netball MSSD and coached for CCL in cricket. For Service, I organised events that helped different organisations like Breast Cancer research programmes, Hospis Malaysia and Myanmar refugee schools. One of my most memorable CAS activities, which covered all three strands of CAS, was our SKIS service trip to provide aid for a school in Siem Reap Cambodia. My class and I worked over a few months to collect funds to purchase school materials for them and we also travelled there to help build bricks from recyclable materials and made a bicycle path for the children. 
 
What are the challenges and obstacles you faced while executing CAS and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges I faced during CAS execution was when we needed to ensure our team members have completed their assigned tasks based on the deadline given. To overcome some of the obstacles, as a leader, I had to ensure there was no miscommunication so that everyone was on the same page. Furthermore, I had to be a good listener and take into account other responsibilities team members may have already acquired and made sure to set realistic deadlines for the team. 
 
Future plans & Advice
What are your plans now?
Now that I have completed the IBDP, my plans for the future are to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Warwick. I will be flying off this September. 
 
Do you have any advice for future IBDP students?
My advice for future IBDP Students is to plan, plan, plan and avoid procrastinating as much as possible. Use your holidays wisely and understand that breaks are important too and it should be taken. 
 
 
We here at SKIS would like to congratulate Kelly and Sasheena once again for their excellent results and we wish both all the best for your future. We are so proud of you!