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A Day in the Life of Jordan Martenstyn (IB: 45 Student)



Language revision (i.e. listening to French podcasts, re-consolidating vocabulary, reading French extracts, etc.) and non-critical tasks (i.e. short English homework or short Business summary of a chapter).


Getting ready for school (i.e. breakfast and shower).


School with recess.


Often during lunch, I would perform a small workout in the gym (i.e. rowing interval session, core / lower back work, etc.) or just chill with mates and forget about the stresses of school.




Track and field / cross country training, including either a long run (up to 7-8km) or a track interval session (i.e. ten sets of 200 metres with 2 minutes recovery)


Travelling home from school and un-packing bag from school.


Study of most important critical tasks.




Study of less important critical tasks.


Stretch and get ready for bed.





Study of information requiring active learning (i.e. business notes, science notes, etc.).


Breakfast and shower.


Study of information requiring active learning (i.e. business notes, science notes, etc).


Lunch and stretch or walk dog or do chores (anything to relax).


Active practice (i.e. doing maths past papers, language past papers, writing language responses, etc).


Travel to school for track and field training.


Track and field training (usually a long run or track session followed by weight training and mobility).


Travelling from school back home.


Revision of whatever I felt like doing (i.e. past papers or rote learning of an enjoyable concept or subject).


Dinner and relaxation (i.e. watch a TV show).


Optional study for 30-45 minutes followed by relaxation, including watching TV, going out with friends, calling a friend, going the gym, etc.






This would have to be my most important takeaway point. QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN QUANTITY WITH REGARDS TO STUDYING. It might be surprising to note that during the school term, I never did more than roughly 3-3 ½ hours of study outside of school per day (including morning and night sessions). Never. I always prioritised exercise and good sleep over excessive amounts of ineffective studying. However, do not regard my routine as an excuse to reduce your study loads without considering the utility of your revision methods. There is countless research discussing the effectiveness of a range of revision methods (search Dunlosky et al., 2013 and read the abstract for inspiration), and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that active revision methods (i.e. past papers, spaced repetition and teaching concepts) are MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than passive revision methods (i.e. reading through notes, writing out notes, highlighting notes and re-summarising notes). If you make a conscious effort to prioritise active retention of information and understanding, rather than simply rote learning of random facts without knowing its context, I would suggest you could half your study time and double your academic results. An example would be dividing the human body into systems (i.e. endocrine, reproductive, cardiovascular, etc.) and learning the functions of specific anatomical structures within these systems, as opposed to simply rote learning anatomical structures from the entire human body without any awareness of the context of such physical features.

For information about consultations to learn more about such revision methods and strategies, feel free to e-mail


Sleep was arguably my most important priority throughout year 12. I valued getting at least 8 hours of sleep more than fitting in a training session or fitting in that last minute bit of study. As is clear in my timetable, I would aim for at least 8:30 hours of sleep during the school and term and 9-10 hours during the holidays. I felt the holidays was a perfect time to replenish physically and mentally through sleep, and it also allowed me to study for long periods in a relaxed and focused manner. If fitting in 8-9 hours of sleep a night is unachievable, I would highly recommend making the most of short power naps throughout the day. For example, a 15-20-minute sleep after returning home from school, or just after lunch during the holidays. Not only does this help to consolidate previous learning (the benefits of sleep on memory comprehension are well established), it is a good psychological trigger to improve focus and heighten attention for the upcoming study periods.


Year 12 was, without a doubt, the most physically active I have been throughout school. I ALWAYS found time for a workout or training session, regardless of the situational context (i.e. during exams, in the holidays, on Sundays, etc.). I believe working out hard and consistently was so important in keeping me sane and maintaining mental health during periods of extreme stress. Don’t get me wrong – I know that it can feel almost impossible to fit in exercise during busy periods in school. BUT, the effects of even a short 20-minute walk or jog are not solely confined to that time period; the benefits carry over to heightened focus, improved mood, less physical stiffness and soreness from sitting and inactivity for the next 24 hours. Moreover, incorporating exercise into a daily routine also helps to reduce the likelihood of engaging in other short-term coping mechanisms to deal with extreme stress (i.e. alcohol, drugs, avoidance, etc.).


This takeaway is likely to seem rather complex at first glance. What I am trying to articulate is that finding YOUR INDIVIDUAL optimal time for studying specific subjects will massively accelerate your amount of information retention from a single revision session (i.e. 1-hour study block). For example, I found out pretty quickly that I preferred to rote learn subjects with lots of dense information (i.e. sciences and humanities) first thing in the morning and to get it out of the way ASAP. Throughout the holidays and after school, I would take the topic of information I wanted to revise in a 1-hour period (i.e. biomechanics for sport science) and walk around my house with my notes, and explain each specific syllabus point to myself. If I encountered information I wasn’t entirely confident teaching to someone else, I would refer to my notes and then re-explain the point from a different perspective. Here, I am making use of the active revision method of teaching information (even if that is to yourself or to your animals, etc.). Once the majority of my content-dense subjects had been taken care of in the morning, I would progress to skill-based subjects more dependent on practice (i.e. maths or writing language responses). I found that as my focus and concentration slowly diminished throughout the day, engaging in active past papers helped to prevent me from drifting off and severely losing concentration and motivation.

However, I believe it is also paramount to allocate time to critical and non-critical tasks. The above activities I have described are critical tasks, in that they are directly applicable to performing well in exams (i.e. through practice or better understanding of exam content). However, there are tasks (i.e. responding to e-mails, short homework which is perceived to be a ‘waste of time’ but urgent, etc.) which is not hugely important but must be completed regardless. Here, I would schedule a short block of time (i.e. 30 minutes in the morning or during a 50-minute free period at school) to finish all of these non-critical tasks. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND choosing a time period to perform non-critical tasks when you foresee distractions (i.e. at school in a crowded library or on public transport) and where critical tasks are likely to be counter-productive due to constant distractions and an inability to enter a true state of focus and concentration.

I hope this helped to give you an insight into the routine of a high-achieving IB student (45/45 and 99.95 ATAR) and give you an appreciation of the importance of maintaining physical and mental health even in periods of high stress and high academic workloads. Make a conscious shift to focus on understanding, acknowledging the context of the information learnt in class, and adopting the most effective revision methods to see significant improvements in academic performance.

Any questions from this post, feel free to e-mail for clarification or to set up a 1 on 1 consultation exploring the most-effective strategies you can be using to massively improve your school grades.

Jordan Martenstyn: Co-Founder of IB Solved

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