Melody Song achieved an incredible 44 out of 45 points on the IB Diploma exam! We caught up with her at Chatsworth International School to ask her how she did it, and what advice she has for other test-takers in international schools in Singapore.
First things first – how exactly did you prepare for the IB Diploma exam?
I started to focus on preparing for the exams around the final quarter during the winter break before the mock exams were coming up. I tried to keep my study schedule consistent and prioritise subjects which I found difficult. For instance, I would allocate time to study for subjects such as maths and biology every week, but I would alternate other subjects.
How did you feel when you found out you scored 44 points?
Based on the mock exams I had taken, I was predicted to score 44 points. Yet many times I felt dubious in my ability to reach the high expectations my teachers set out for me. Therefore, achieving 44 points was an extremely surreal but rewarding experience. I felt validated for all the time and effort I spent studying in my final two years at Chatsworth. I was also very grateful to my teachers. They dedicated so much to helping me and believing that I could attain this score.
What was your biggest challenge in the DP programme, and how did you overcome it?
Paradoxically, my biggest challenge was trying not to be score-orientated. At the start of the programme, several low grades really decreased my confidence. For instance, I performed well in maths during the Middle Years Programme, so I applied to take it as a HL, or Higher Level, subject. But I failed the entrance test, so I was dropped down to SL, or Standard Level. I think giving myself enough time to adjust to the rigour of the diploma programme and learning to pace my learning to my own speed was definitely fundamental to my success.
What advice do you have for other students sitting for the IB Diploma exams?
It’s important to find a style of learning that suits you best. For instance, for content-heavy subjects such as biology, I relied on handwritten notes to memorise key terms and answer formats. Yet for chemistry, which is more application-based, I watched chemistry videos from YouTubers such as Richard Thornley and MSJChem. The hosts are engaging and cogent in their explanations.
Also, in science subjects – particularly chemistry – there are often questions about generic equations, units and definitions that you can memorise and secure marks on. Try not to lose marks on questions that ask you to define a catalyst, ionisation energy, entropy or a Lewis acid because these can be answered with textbook knowledge and practice. There are conceptual application problems that are more challenging than those.
What’s next for you?
I’m enrolled in the Life Science programme at the National University of Singapore.
How many years have you attended Chatsworth?
I’ve been at Chatsworth for nine years at all three campuses – I started at the East Coast location, moved to the Orchard campus and finished at the Bukit Timah campus.
Do you feel Chatsworth has helped you achieve your goals?
Chatsworth provided me with dedicated teachers who always gave detailed feedback and who were easily approachable when I was struggling with my subject assignments, Internal Assessment and Extended Essay, the latter two being required parts of the IB Programme. Their support and guidance definitely played a huge role in helping me overcome difficulties during my last two years. Secondly, Chatsworth is a very comfortable environment for studying. The community and class sizes are quite small, which creates close, interactive and friendly conditions to study and hold discussions in.
Chatsworth has been a really welcoming and understanding community. It was like this when I first joined in year 5, up until my last year. I made lifelong friends there. And, I’ve gained life-long knowledge for the future. Chatsworth really did “educate, inspire, and enlighten” me in a way that has enabled me to become the person I am today.
You were awarded Chatsworth’s IBDP scholarship for Years 12 and 13. What has that meant to you and your family?
The Chatsworth scholarship helped to relieve my family’s financial burden. It allowed me to focus on my studies, especially with the provision of a MacBook Air, which I heavily relied on during my last two years. It also taught me a sense of responsibility and helped me to maintain high expectations for myself. I needed a minimum score to maintain the scholarship, which provided me with a reference point and guided me to achieve higher scores later.
Fast Facts about the IB 2019:
Candidates worldwide: 166,278
Candidates in Singapore: 1,544
Average score: 29.63
Chatsworth’s school average: 36 points (100% pass rate)
Number of candidates scoring a perfect 45 points: 213 (or about .1%)
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