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How to prepare for Math HL?

Pre-ibMath hl mathematics calculus prepare
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5 replies to this topic

Oskar Birol

Oskar Birol
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Hey! I'm starting IB this fall, and I've chosen Math HL. It's hard - I'm aware - So how do you prepare? As some of you might know, Swedish math education is.. rubbish.. (sadly that's the only education I've had) Thus I hope to improve my skills before IB starts.

A good first year student told me that if anything, I should try to start with and getting an understanding of calculus. He also told me about KhanAcademy as I had heard of before. So today I went in there, and I found myself confused about the two different categories; PreCalculus & Calculus. (I've never studied calculus nor do I know anything about it, so i'm sorry if this sounds dumb, but,) am I supposed to start off with PreCalculus?

If you have any other tips that'd be great!


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Hey! i've been doing IB for six months now and yes it is challenging, it's a lifestyle. I warn you, IB allumni will not make it easy for you. I'm doing Math HL and the trick is you should do some math every night. the topic you have learnt and overview of the next one. Secondly, you better love it. Many are in it for the ego, they dont survive. Believe in yourself and that 7 will not be shy. Welcome to IB Oskar


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Hello there! Since I'm tired of doing my maths homework - this is what happens when you do Maths HL - you stay up until 11 during your school holidays to finish off a few questions on complex numbers :) - I thought I'd leave a reply here. I have to admit I didn't like maths very much pre-IB, but I guess I chose it because I am fairly good at maths and it sounded like a challenge that was interesting enough to engage me during class, as opposed to something more pedestrian like SL or studies.

I'm finding that I'm liking Maths HL, which probably sounds frightening. It's quite fun... And the answers are pretty black and white, no debate over the answers unless the textbook answers are wrong again (which happens a lot to our class).

Yeah, the trick is practice! Avoid falling behind in work, otherwise it is painful. The knowledge debt will accumulate. You will not understand things in class if you fall behind by a lot. You have been warned :) Also, I find that doing review exercises help, and most HL textbooks will provide review exercises and if not you can always find another textbook or go and find past papers to revise. I find it useful to get IB style questions, because they tend to be different to the skill-building ones in the textbook. Also, get familiar with your graphics calculator because you do actually need it in your exams and you need to be able to use it - so I would recommend finding one early and 'practising' with it, though it's probably not that urgent (but it looks cool as well). And maybe obtain and skim over a Maths HL textbook as well because it helps to have a bit of a head-start (and is a surprisingly interesting read - sometimes even more engaging than my literature texts, but oh well).

With regards to your question about Khan Academy, I like it a lot because he does give great explanations. However, I find it better for understanding conceptual things (so more like physics/economics) rather than actually brushing up on my mathematical skills - I just find the video format annoying and a bit slow when I have to do exercises with it. However, that is a personal thing. Pre-Calculus is in my understanding trig/algebra and that kind of thing, which you should know most of (though I may be wrong, judging from your critique of the Swedish maths education) and it probably isn't necessary. Calculus is a pretty important branch of mathematics, and you probably don't need to learn much about it before IB because it'll be covered in the course quite well I think (48 hours out of 190 hours in the core, I believe). So maybe just target areas you are unsure about with the videos, otherwise it's a waste of time.

Hope my rambling is useful. I hope you do enjoy and keep Maths HL, it's a bit of an extra reason to look smug sometimes. :disgust:

The Economist

The Economist
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Thank you a lot! I really appreciate your help! It's nice hearing some actual thoughts of Math HL rather than just hearing "IT'S HARD, IT'S HARD, IT'S HARD ALRIGHT?" I'm looking forward to the program. Thanks a lot guys! :)

Instead of saying "thank you", you can simply press the "like this" button.


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Before you start preparing for Math HL, I suggest that you firstly look at the syllabus, I think your would by the Nov 2014 syllabus.

There is no need to stress about calculus at the moment, because calculus is probably one of the last topics your learn in Math HL - firstly your algebra should be really really good.

I suggest start doing Topic 1: Algebra, and maybe even purchase an IB Math Book (I suggest Haese&Harris or even IBID is good) and start practicing your algebra!

That's the best tip I can give to you, don't stress too much but make sure your algebra is fantastic and that you have a very solid foundation, rather than focusing on heavy topic such as calculus which is the probably the last thing you will learn ;)


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Its not that hard, if I can get a 7 so can all of you, just work towards it and you will do it..When I started the IB everyone kept telling OMG you are taking math HL you're gonna die this person worked so hard and got a 4, sometimes I even thought let me just drop to SL but then we went on with classes and like I used to do well on the tests so I kept thinking well if I'm doing well why on earth is everyone telling me I am gonna fail? But my teacher always said our batch will produce great results which we did eventually. I used to solve math papers with my friend like every saturday at school coz we used to have extra lessons and so like after we finished those classes I would stay in school with him till 2 pm just doing papers and questions on topics we had covered. It helped immensely because he got a 6 and I got a 7. The rest of our class got 4's and below because of being slack and not having enough passion to get the top grades. So if anyone does tell u its hard its hard just say yeah its tough but I am tougher!

So my advice to you right now is don't worry too much about it now, there's many things that you will come across for the first time in Math HL but its okay its 2 years and if you use them wisely, you will be fine. Just make sure you know functions really well and introductory probability, vectors, matrices and trigonometry because I believe the rest of it is gonna be new stuff. That said however during your time in IB manage your time well, devote 70% of your time to math but don't overdo it because you wanna do well everywhere ideally. I completely ignored chemistry (which should've been a 7 had I put in a bit more effort into it) thinking I'll get a 7 but I didn't because I didn't balance my time so well. So just keep a good balance, you will have to work slightly harder with math but don't overdo it that you lose focus everywhere else. Anyway goodluck I hope I helped you.

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