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chrypton

Suitable subjects for me?

Hi everyone,

I'm new on this forum and so far I've found it really informative and many of my questions concerning IB have been answered. However, I would like to ask a more personal question.

So I'm starting IB from August this year and these are the subjects I listed on my application:

Mathematics HL

Physics HL

Chemistry SL

History SL

English A1(HL)

Norwegian B(SL)

Now, I'm not very familiar of the difficulty level of these individual subjects as I not got any close friends who've experienced the IB program. So my main concern is that my selection of subjects may give me two extremely hard years with constant stress.

I've always been extremely interested in mathematics and anything related to it. I usually achieve top grades in maths. I'm especially interested in Calculus, Algebra and Geometry/Trigonometry. I do not like probability and I'm hoping that I'll have to deal little with it in Maths HL. I've also chosen Physics at higher level because I figured it has close ties with maths. Besides, I've always been interested in Astronomy. I'm not so concerned about the other four subjects I've chosen as I think I'm capable of handling them well.

So my question is:

Is Maths HL and Physics HL really something for me?

I know this question might be hard to answer, but I would really like an answer that can give me an insight on what those two subjects focus on, and if one is able to achieve good results in them.

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Maths HL is very difficult..and I took Maths SL so I'm not sure about this exactly, but I did have to learn probability in SL (I don't like it either, ha). Maths SL is ridiculously easy compared to HL, 90% of my class got a level 7 in Maths SL, and the lowest grade was a 5 (we took the May 2007 exam).

I didn't take Physics, but my best friend and boyfriend both took Physics SL (it's only offered at SL at our school) and both of them found it a bit harder than average. They didn't have an astronomy unit in SL though..perhaps that's only a HL topic? I'm not sure.

If you do decide to take maths and physics at HL, be prepared for a huge workload..both subjects are very difficult at HL (especially maths). I've heard that it's almost an impossible feat to achieve 7 in Maths HL.

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Math HL and Physics are two of the hardest subjects in IB. To take both, it will take alot of drive and effort. If you think you can do it then I would.

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Math HL will also involve a lot more probability than SL math - that seemed to be your main concern.

it was rumored at our school... the validifyed by the Staff, that the 2009 and on exams for all sciences will be easier than they have been in previous years, so it won't be as bad as other years, but all HL's will take more work than a SL exam.

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Thank you for your replies!

It seems that Maths HL indeed is a difficult subject. I've bought the Maths SL book from a previous IB student and started doing exercises in it. When I skimmed through the entire book I took a look at the different chapters, examples and exercises, and they looked quite easy. Now I know that I can't judge the subject by only looking through the book, but I'm doubting that Maths SL would be too hard.

I'm planning on doing a bit of exercises in my SL book in summer, to get prepared for Maths HL. Which chapters should I emphasize on?

Here are is the list of chapters:

Algebra

Circular functions and trigonometry

Functions and equations

Differentiation 1

Integration

Sequences and series

Differentiation 2

Further trigonometry

Calculus with trigonometry

Exponents and logarithms

Calculus with exponents and logarithms

Matrices

Vectors

Probability

Statistics

Edited by cornflake

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I can't help you much about physics, as it is not offered as IB subject at our school....

concerning maths HL, I can just tell you about my own experience:

I'm in a class where SL and HL students are together, so I know the differences between the two courses quite well. there is indeed a huge difference. SL maths really only includes the basics, while the HL core includes the same subjects but just on a more difficult level and more detailed. in addition, you have to choose an option which is really much more difficult than the core topics. I took series and differential equations and found it very challenging... there's also discrete maths, statistics and probabilty (so probabloy not your choics...) and sets relations and groups.

if you are interested in maths and you don't mind spending some hours more on it than on the other subjects, I strongly advise you to take HL. you'll find it very challenging, and it is certainly a better preparation to further studies than the SL course.

and by the way: I took the exams this year and I also did some SL trial exams as preparation. I'm pretty sure that I would have achieved a 7 at SL. I don't know my HL results yet, but even if I get only a 4, I know that my maths knowledge is broader than if I had taken SL and got a 7... and for me the actual knowledge is more important than the grade...

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I think that's a good plan for you because if you manage to take interest in math then HL is not as hard as peiple make it sound. With Math HL, you just constantly have to put in time by doing problems and going over recent topics. Our teacher advises an hour a day, which is quite a bit along with the workload from 6 other subjects but I think you should do all right. Oh and unless you're naturally talented at math, a 7 is almost unreachable because it just is. But since you seem to be very interested aim for 7 and you'd be surprised that if you work hard enough you'll get 6.5.

Physics HL I find to be the hardest and most time consuming subject because of all the labs you have to complete and the practice qustions which can take hours to complete. And on top of that there's so much connection between topics that if you're shaky on one then it may screw over your whole course.

Other than that if you work hard at it I'm sure those two subjects are great for you, and coming out of IB with those sunjects on your resume is impressive for universities because they want you to take the hardest classes your school offers...and you chose them!

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I think that's a good plan for you because if you manage to take interest in math then HL is not as hard as peiple make it sound. With Math HL, you just constantly have to put in time by doing problems and going over recent topics. Our teacher advises an hour a day, which is quite a bit along with the workload from 6 other subjects but I think you should do all right. Oh and unless you're naturally talented at math, a 7 is almost unreachable because it just is. But since you seem to be very interested aim for 7 and you'd be surprised that if you work hard enough you'll get 6.5.

Physics HL I find to be the hardest and most time consuming subject because of all the labs you have to complete and the practice qustions which can take hours to complete. And on top of that there's so much connection between topics that if you're shaky on one then it may screw over your whole course.

Other than that if you work hard at it I'm sure those two subjects are great for you, and coming out of IB with those sunjects on your resume is impressive for universities because they want you to take the hardest classes your school offers...and you chose them!

Thank you for your encouraging reply!

I do spend a lot of time doing math and I'll be no problem for me to spend one hour with maths each morning. I am very passionate towards maths and would like to make a carrier out of it.

It seems as if physics would be a bigger problem, and if there isn't a big difference between Physics HL and SL, I might consider to take it on SL, but since physics and maths are like brothers it would be best with a deeper knowledge also in physics.

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Math HL will also involve a lot more probability than SL math - that seemed to be your main concern.

it was rumored at our school... the validifyed by the Staff, that the 2009 and on exams for all sciences will be easier than they have been in previous years, so it won't be as bad as other years, but all HL's will take more work than a SL exam.

I wouldn't take that news about sciences being easier as gospel, I am pretty sure that this opinion from your teachers is from the specimen papers for 2009. In the past specimen papers have been way easier that the actual exam so... don't be too sure about that.

I think that's a good plan for you because if you manage to take interest in math then HL is not as hard as peiple make it sound. With Math HL, you just constantly have to put in time by doing problems and going over recent topics. Our teacher advises an hour a day, which is quite a bit along with the workload from 6 other subjects but I think you should do all right. Oh and unless you're naturally talented at math, a 7 is almost unreachable because it just is. But since you seem to be very interested aim for 7 and you'd be surprised that if you work hard enough you'll get 6.5.

Physics HL I find to be the hardest and most time consuming subject because of all the labs you have to complete and the practice qustions which can take hours to complete. And on top of that there's so much connection between topics that if you're shaky on one then it may screw over your whole course.

Other than that if you work hard at it I'm sure those two subjects are great for you, and coming out of IB with those sunjects on your resume is impressive for universities because they want you to take the hardest classes your school offers...and you chose them!

I think that you probably know this already and are just say that you could a mark that is equivalent to 6.5, but I say it anyway you can get half marks in score in IB.

OP I think if you like Maths and enjoy it and willing to work hard go ahead, I have 2 friends who received a 7 for HL Maths, and I am from Australia where (to make a generalisation) our level of maths is a lot lower than students internationally of the same age.

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I think that you should definitely take HL Math if you're interested in it, if only because you'd finally be in a class with people who actually like Math and care about Math instead of people who are taking a Math class because they have to. It is a lot of work, but if you like the material it won't be as bad (: However Stats/Probability have almost as much weight in the syllabus as Calculus does, and you might want to make sure that the instructor does not choose the Stats option if you aren't particularly fond about the topic.

I'm in HL Math, but I HATE Physics, but this could be because my teachers teach it as a sort of dumbed-down algebra course where you plug in numbers into equations, and that's nowhere near the fun we have in Math :) I also hated the Physics labs (preferred Chemistry/Biology). Also because I didn't care for 90% of the topics on the syllabus. Some unis seem to like Physics for Math admissions, but I personally thought that two years to spend in a class I didn't care about would be miserable. You might want to look over the content breakdown and see how much you like the course.

Also if you are going to spend time working on Math over the summer, I'd suggest getting a solid foundation in trig and algebra/logs/exponents, because these will haunt you in almost every other topic if you aren't good at them.

Edited by Agneisse

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I got to know recently that Maths HL and SL are taught together the first year at my school. At the end of the year the SL students give their exams, while the HL continue the next year. This sounds interesting as I probably have the choice to drop to SL and take the exam the first year if I wish.

Edited by cornflake

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