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What Level of Maths Should You Choose In IB?

IB Maths or International Baccalaureate is one of the subjects in the International Baccalaureate curriculum. In an IB curriculum, the students have to choose the size of subjects they will be studying for the next two years.

If you are choosing IB maths as one of the subjects, this resource will help you if you should carry forward with your decision or not.

When choosing IB Maths, you will have two options to choose from, i.e., Maths Applications and Interpretations and Maths Analysis and Approaches. These two options can be selected from either a Higher Level (HL) or Standard Level (SL).

This has been a recent change in the IB maths curriculum. Previously, there used to be three main subjects, i.e., Maths Studies, standard and Higher. In May 2021 were the first batch of students to follow the new pattern. As the change has been made recently, it is difficult for students to know better about the exam, the pattern, and the type of questions asked.

Due to lack of such resources, it isn’t easy to analyze the maths level to choose in IB, i.e., should a student go for a Higher Level or Standard level of IB Maths.

Here is a deep analysis of each choice and its levels to help students analyze better.

Mathematics Applications and Interpretations

Mathematics Applications and interpretation or the Maths AI focus on subjects that are actually used to solve problems in real-life situations. It has a practical approach and lets students solve finance, sciences, and other human life aspects.

Therefore, this part of IB Maths should interest students who like to apply maths to real situations and their world.

The students with Maths AI have to study 150 hours to cover the course material recommended by the IB curriculum. If you choose Higher Level along with Maths AI, 90 hours of additional teaching add to it. However, both the SL and HL cover the same five areas. The difference lies in difficulty. Opting and HL means studying the same topics in depth and complexity. These five areas include:

  • Functions
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Number and Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Probability and Statistics

Also, students opting for Maths AI with HL have an extra paper, i.e., Paper 3 in final exams.

Mathematics Analysis and Approaches

Maths analysis and Approaches is another choice you can go with under IB Maths. This section of maths deals with more theoretical aspects than Maths AI. This means it will focus more on mathematical theorems, mathematical arguments, and mathematical proves. Maths AA is therefore also be known as ‘pure mathematics.’

You can choose Maths AA if you are more curious about why maths problem is solved like it is. It is also about mathematical thinking and understanding mathematics to the core.

Similarly, just as Maths AI, Maths AA requires 150 hours of completing the course if you choose Standard Level. For HL, you need to study for 240 hours. Maths AA covers the same five topics/areas as Maths AI i.e.

  • Functions
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Number and Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Probability and Statistics

Though the collective time spent on these areas are the same as in Maths AI, the time spent on each area differs in both cases. For instance, Maths AI HL requires you to spend at least one-fourth of your total time on statistics and one-fifth of your time on calculus.

On the contrary, Maths AA HL requires you to spend just one-sixth of your total time on statistics and much more time on calculus.

Another factor that can help choose your level is the topics of your strength and weakness. Depending on the time and in-depth study you need to do for a particular area, you can decide your level.

Another difference Maths AA has from Maths AI is the final exam Paper 1. This is a non-calculator exam i.e., no calculators are allowed during this exam. You need to get 40% of the final grade if you choose standard Level and 30% if you choose High Level.

The rest of the structure is the same as in Maths AI. Maths AA also has a Paper 3 if you choose Higher Level. Under this, there are two additional extended problem-solving questions. Also, 20% of the overall subject grade comes from Internal Assessments.

Choosing Depending On Past Subjects

Can past subjects major help in selecting the IB Maths? Yes, taking Maths AA becomes easier for students who have studied Engineering, Economics at a higher level, and Physics. Also, before choosing your level, you should double-check the university requirements. Some universities require you to have HL IB Maths necessarily, while others consider SL enough in Maths AA.

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