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Cutie Cat

4 HLs and Skipping Math SL: Good Idea or No?

So next year I'll be going into IB and my school requires HL European History and HL English.

Currently, my plan for next year is:

HL History

HL English

HL Biology (my school doesn't offer SL Bio)

SL Physics Year 2 (I started SL physics this year in 10th grade; my school doesn't offer HL physics)

SL Spanish

SL Math

So here's my problem: I really, really want to take HL math. I've always been really good at math and it's always come very easily to me. I've never gotten anything less than 100% on any of the exams in Algebra 2 and Geometry last year was basically the same thing. My elementary school didn't off any math beyond Math 7, so I started middle school in Pre-Algebra. I can't say for sure if I would have ended up in Algebra if my elementary school had offered a better math class, but I'd like to think that would be the case. In my school, SL 1 is a prerequisite to HL 1 in math (not exactly sure how it is in other schools).

So here's the potential solution to my problem: take an online Precalculus/Trig course over the summer and go into HL 1 next year if I get a good grade. I've already talked to my math teacher and the IB coordinator at my school and they said it was a possibility. My math teacher said it would be very difficult but that if I'm determined enough, I might be able to do it because of my aptitude and love for math.

I want to go into engineering (probably biomedical or aerospace) in college and I also really love math. Physics and math are my absolute favorite subjects and also the two that I'm doing best in right now (basically perfect scores in both classes). Because of these things, I think I'd really enjoy doing HL, but I've been poking around the forum and I've seen so many people asking if they should take math as a 4th HL and the resouding answer has been NO!

So what I really want to know is if taking math as my 4th HL and doing a course to make up for SL 1 would be feasibile considering how well I do with math and my love for the subject or if you think it would be too difficult, especially because I have to take an online course to make up for SL 1 in just 3 months over the summer.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read over this! Any advice would be appreciated!

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To me, it sounds like you are capable of taking a 4th HL - Maths HL, and also doing well in it, given that you seem like you have both passion and aptitude for it.

From what you've said, I'd say you should definitely go for it! :D It also sounds extremely useful (maybe also necessary?) for your college degree.

However, I would say that: don't assume that because you've aced maths so far you'll also instantly and easily ace Maths HL.

That is the case for a select few people, but for most others it does require a lot more work.

Worst come to worst, you always have the option of dropping down to Maths SL (I assume).

One more thing I'd consider is -- how much do you like HL Biology? I realise you can't take SL Bio, but any other possible SL subjects you could pick? (If you're wary about doing 4 HLs). :)

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I fell in love with Bio after taking an honors Bio course in 9th grade. My other options for a class would be Economics, Business Management, Design Tech, Art, Theatre Art, Psychology, and Film. Out of those, the only other course I'd considered was Design Tech because it would give me a good intro to engineering, but I really, really love Bio and the teacher who teaches it. In addition, most of the colleges I'm considering only give credit for Design Tech at HL and my school only offers Design Tech at SL, so I shyed away from it a bit. Also, I've been lurking on the forum for quite a while and it seems like Bio HL is one of the less difficult HLs. Is that true? Despite that, do you think it would be a better option?

Also, I would be able to drop down into SL if HL was too much.

Thanks so much for your opinion! :)

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Okay, well you seem absolutely fine then! :D I just wasn't sure if you picked Biology just because you didn't have a better option for a 6th subject.

Well, what I've generally heard is that Biology HL is pretty manageable - a large part is memorising, and that compared to Physics/Chem it's a lot easier.

However, this obviously depends on the individual student (others might find Physics or Chem easy but Bio hard for example).

It's awesome that you have so much passion for most of your classes! From what you've said, you should be fine with Bio HL.

You seem all set to me. Yeah, 4 HLs might be tough, but it's definitely manageable. And you do have an escape route if things get too difficult, hehe. :)

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Take math HL. Trig should be part of the syllabus so I think you're fine, although most teachers try to do that before IB1. If you're doing well in maths you should be fine.

The difficulty depends on the person, for me math HL is never a problem while I struggle with my SL subjects.

Also: If you want to go into engineering then you should probably take HL physics instead of history.

Since you're doing well in physics, consider self-studying HL. (Seems that I've been saying that for too many times these days and that might not a good idea for everyone)

Or since you're in US, you can probably take AP physics.

It's up to you. If you're having problems managing the workload, ignore all above, but probably it will turn out fine.

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Unfortunately, my school does not offer HL physics or SL history, so I'm a bit gimped there. Not having a stronger background in physics also fueled my decision to try and take HL math.

I'll definitely consider doing AP physics as a senior, but I would have to take HL math for that since AP physics is all calculus based.

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