“Studying is important, but not more important than looking after your mental health”


Antonio Jesús Palomino Sánchez, a student on the IB Diploma Programme at SEK-Alborán, obtained the maximum mark possible in his Diploma exam, 45 points.

– How do you feel after knowing that you have achieved the highest possible score in the IB exam?

It is very impressive and at first when I saw my mark, I was euphoric. I have been preparing for a long time over these two years and it is true that I did not expect such a high mark, but I feel like my effort has been reflected. Above all, I am very happy and calm because I will be able to enter my first university degree option at the university that I wanted.

– Tell us what this year was like for you, how did you prepare?

In general, it has been quite difficult. I have been working and studying a lot for a long time and it has not been easy. As for exam preparation, as my tutor said, it had to be and has been like a mini-competition and, although it has paid off, it has been quite hard.

– Do you think that this very special year, with the pandemic, has helped you to concentrate more or on the contrary has it been more difficult than you expected?

I have completed both the IB Diploma Programme and the university entrance exams in Spain and, from my point of view, although the assessments given due to covid did have some advantages for students, they were not enough to compensate everything that the pandemic wrought. The health crisis brought about by the coronavirus has taken up almost two full academic years for those taking secondary school who were born in 2003. We have lost many opportunities to go out and have fun between lockdowns and restrictions, and although they were necessary to avoid more deaths and infections, they have caused a lot of stress and exhaustion. The pandemic has been tough and has undoubtedly changed all the expectations I had for high school in the first term of the 2019/20 academic year, when I started.

– What would you highlight about your school and the education you were given?

SEK-Alboran has offered me many opportunities throughout my educational stage, such as excellent language teaching or exchanges and Model United Nations, which have helped me a lot beyond the purely academic, although without a doubt I would especially highlight the debate activities. I have been able to debate both in tournaments at the provincial and national level and within the school itself since the first year of ESO. It has been the most enriching experience of my time at school, especially thanks to the teachings of my debate instructor Don Javier Eladio Guzmán and my team. Debating has taught me more and has given me more useful training for my life than the subjects I have taken during my education, and I am very grateful for that experience.

– What recommendations would you give to students who will be taking this exam next year?

The most important thing is to be well organised and do the extended essay and all the internal assessments, which can be done in the first year, as soon as possible. Also, one thing that I did not always do, but now looking at it with perspective is something that I should have focused on much more, is taking enough time to rest and clear my head. Studying is important, but not more important than looking after your mental health.

– Finally, what do you plan to study and where next year?

I want to study a joint degree in international studies and law at the Carlos III University of Madrid.


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