Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently asked questions and answers about CAS

Can x be a CAS experience?

Check the CAS experiences section. If you have to ask, this indicates your proposal may need extending or reconsidering. Use this graphic to help you and talk to your CAS coordinator or advisor. Some schools have a CAS proposal form to complete.

Can I have a CAS experience that is connected to my academic subjects?

Yes, as long as it is not actual work for your subject or an internal assessment. If you specifically want to do this and need ideas - perhaps to help develop your career aspiration - check out these ideas.

Can I continue doing activities I already do for CAS?

Absolutely. If you use the CAS stages framework you may get better at it. Remember, you must develop yourself during your CAS experiences: you can’t just do the same thing again and again. So for example just going to the gym is not great CAS but going to the gym and working towards goals is - and isn’t that the point of the gym!

How much reflection do I need to do?

There is no real answer to this. It is more important that the reflection is meaningful than voluminous. If you undertook a one-off experience then one, perhaps short, reflection is enough. If you played in a netball team 5 hours a week for 2 years, you should use the opportunity to reflect on the experience more often and deeply. However, this doesn’t mean reflect after every training session - that would be overdoing it and pointless.

What is a CAS project?

See here.

Do I need to do CAS for the whole two years of the IB Diploma?

You should be undertaking CAS continuously for 18 months. This means you can finish your CAS experiences before your exams start - if you have met the requirements.

What if I'm struggling to manage my time?

This is a common problem that all busy people face. However, even if you are struggling academically, taking a break from your books and laptop will aid you in the long term. Getting into the gym, expressing your creative side or helping others will get you out of your study bubble and give you a sense of perspective. Make sure you have not taken on too many CAS experiences at one time. Sometimes this is a lesson in itself, and you may come to the realisation that you have to give something up because you don’t have the time. Just make sure you are using your time constructively and are not procrastinating!

My parents don't understand why I have to do so many activities after school instead of studying, how can I explain CAS to them?

This is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate some IB learner profile attributes! Show you are caring by empathising with their worries. Be open-minded to their point of view. Be a knowledgeable communicator by explaining clearly to them the requirements of the IB diploma. Reflect on what you have already gained from CAS and consider how you may continue to benefit from participation in your chosen experiences. Emphasise how important it is to have balance in your life. Some of the following points might also help you in your discussion:

  • It is said that 50% of jobs of the future don’t exist yet and the creative industry is the fastest growing. Learning to be creative is vital.

  • Heart disease and obesity are considered epidemics in the western world and habits laid down in adolescence are essential to a long and healthy life.

  • Learning to appreciate what you have and what you can contribute makes you more empathetic and strengthens your (and their) community.

  • Some activities support your academics, for example tutoring younger students in a subject that you are good at. Teaching something is the best way of checking you understand it.

I have fallen behind with my reflections, what should I do?

Don’t panic! Remember it is quality, not quantity, that counts when it comes to reflections. Set a target to undertake one detailed reflection about each experience. You could do it orally if that is easier for you, then upload a sound file to your CAS portfolio.

I’m in a team but have no control over what we do. How can I make this CAS?

Although you may not choose the training drills and fixtures you do have control over yourself. Begin by thinking about what your individual strengths and weaknesses are in a sport. Undertake an audit, then consider how you can improve. What are your barriers to success? How can you address them? Can you share this analysis with your coach, team members or captain and get support to help you improve?

Remind me again, how much reflection is enough?

This is an impossible question to answer, but it is definitely a case of quality over quantity. Instead of trying to log something every day, which may be quite meaningless, set aside some time to think deeply about an experience. Start with what happened, then consider why, how it made you feel and what you would do differently next time. Keep those sorts of questions in your head. If something notable happens, then these should trigger your thoughts. If it is just a normal day working towards a distant goal you may not have anything to reflect upon, and that is fine.

How many experiences do I have to do?

Again, this is not an easy question to answer. There are many different approaches that students can take to developing their CAS portfolios. Some have a low number of high quality and long-lasting experiences and projects. Others have a high number of many different experiences. It depends on the person, their local context, and their school culture and expectations. Ultimately, you must meet the CAS learning outcomes but how this is achieved will be different for every IB Diploma Programme student!

How do I know when I am finished?

All seven learning outcomes met

One project completed

Sufficient reflection

18 months of engagement

We have now come full circle! CAS is individual, you have complete control, what you undertake is up to you. You can choose to do it well, or be a minimalist, it is an incredible opportunity for you and it is up to you what you do with it.