What are the qualities of a good IB guide/notes?

As the final IB exam is taking place in May next year, many IB students slowly begin to work on their Internal Assessments, as well as final revision recently. Many students choose to go for IB tutorial at different centres. With the help of IB tutors, students are able to grasp the main idea quickly. Oftentimes, IB notes and guides are used for more effective teaching and learning.

A guide is to rearrange information into an organized and concise set of notes so that readers are able to follow the logical flow and acquire relevant message. Various types of guides serve different purposes. The most common guide would be study guide or study notes, which arranges content by topics so that students are able to learn more logically. Other types of guides, including inspirational guide or self-development guide, may not contain specific knowledge. There are IB guides that are not about the knowledge, but on how you can survive IB and go through all the obstacles throughout the programme. Regardless of its content, all guides should lead readers through the unknown or the unfamiliar fields.

The quality of an IB guide greatly affects the way IB tutors carry out tutorials and what IB students can possibly learn from them. A good IB study guide considerably helps students acquire and absorb knowledge more efficiently. What are, then, the qualities of a good IB guide?

Clear purpose and topic

If students are making their own IB study guide, they need to be clear about the purpose of the study guide that they are making, whether it to be a collection of definitions of biology terms, diagrams, and math exercises, or a guide on specific topic of the subject. Only when the purpose and topic of the study guide is clear, tutors and students are able to make full use of the guide. Organizing knowledge into respective categories helps students understand the contents more easily. For example, a collection of definitions helps students organize and memorize all definitions in one subject, while a guide on human digestion teaches students a specific topic in Biology.

Logical flow

The guide should be organized in a logical way so that readers can follow and acquire knowledge in an organized way. For example, a study guide on math differentiation should start with introduction of differentiation, then discuss about different methods to find derivatives with examples, finally end with exercises. Another example would be a study guide on human digestive system. It should start with the introduction of the whole digestive system, then the different organs that play a role in digestion, and finally the process of digestion. Only with a logical flow can students understand the whole topic reasonably from the introduction to the result. Study guides with logical flow helps students with their understanding and memorizing to a great extent.

IBO provides student with syllabus for all subjects that outlines the content which students are required to know. A way to keep the study guide logical is to follow the flow in syllabus because the content in the syllabus is already organized according to topics.

Understand which type fits you most

Scientists and psychologists have developed a number of models to understand ways that people learn best. The VARK model categorizes people into four primary types of learners, including visual, auditorial, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Visual learners prefer to see information and visualize the relationship between ideas by making use of charts and diagrams. Auditory learners prefer to hear the information instead of reading it or seeing it displayed visually by reciting and repeating information out loud after asking questions. Reading or writing learners prefer to interact with texts rather than seeing or hearing them. Quizzes and handouts are most suitable for this type of learners. Kinesthetic learners focuses on hands-on experience and learn by doing it. They can write things down to memorize it, or learn it by demonstrations or role-playing.

Depending on which primary type of learner the student is, different study guides will be chosen. Only by first understanding which type the student is most comfortable with, tutors are able to teach students in a customized way. When a visual learner is making or choosing an IB guide, he or she should choose the guide with more visuals and charts so that he or she can learn the content more effectively. Auditory learners can instead go for online classes and videos in which audio is one of the primary ways how message is conveyed.


Regardless of the four primary learners, IB guides with reasonable format are more welcome among students and tutors. Sufficient use of visuals, such as bullet points, charts and tables, can help students grasp the information in a shorter time. There are several types of visuals that can be used in study guides to help organize the contents.

Concept map and branching diagram

Concept map and branching diagram benefit students when information is presented visually. Students are able to organize information spatially from general to specific, understanding how knowledge is generated and developed. It is more commonly used when presenting, for example, classifications in Biology.

Comparison chart

Instead of stating everything in sentences, comparison chart is more useful to organize information visually so that students are able to see the relationships between different categories. It is especially useful when students need to understand the differences and similarities among theories, processes and facts.


Diagram enables students to visualize dynamic information, including processes, procedures and steps. For example, in economics, diagrams can be used to understand how money flows in the market from consumers to producers, then back to consumers.


Timeline is also useful to organize information chronologically, especially in subjects like History. Students are able to understand and memorize events in order so as to see the causation and correlation between events that happen one after another.


A good guide should include comprehensive scope of relevant knowledge. For example, for IB math study guide, it should include the theory, examples, and exercises so that students are able to practice and apply the knowledge. Study guides should provide inclusive demonstration so that readers can understand the knowledge from different perspectives.