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Mathemagician

HL Subjects- Difficulty level (questions)

Hello,

I'm going to start the IBD Program this September in 2014. I have chosen my subjects, both SL and HL, however I am having second thoughts about my HL subject choices due to a massive amount of people telling me how difficult they are (even if you are good at the subject). HL English is compulsory for every student at my school and I'm not really worried about this. What I'm worried about is HL Mathematics and HL Chemistry- my other 2 HL's. Many people, both in real life and on the internet, have told me that these 2 subjects are basically suicide, especially HL Mathematics. I'm really worried, and don't know whether to continue on with these or not. If someone can shine some light on this issue, that'd be great.

Thank you.

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That depends on what kind of person you are. For me if I took something like English lit HL + random language + philosophy/history/random group 3 HL I would have already dropped out from IB, while someone interested in humanities/social sciences and not as much in natural sciences and mathematics might hate my subject combination.

Math/chemistry HL aren't that hard, well you need interest in the subject (not as much as that required for a university degree) and (hard) work but that basically applies to any subject.

Judging from your user name, I don't really think you need to worry.

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I'm mainly only worried about HL Mathematics, because literally every person I've met has said it's suicide. Everyone in my school taking it is saying it's very, VERY difficult, and this is coming from people who got 90s in Mathematics before HL Maths. Also, people on other forums have also said it's super-duper difficult. I do have a strong passion for math, and am willing to work extremely hard for it, but if it's as hard as everyone is making it sound then I don't know if I should take it.

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Mathemagician -

I wonder if you're going to my school? English HL, Math HL, and Chem HL are all offered here, and English HL is also mandatory for diploma students. I've messaged you to see if this is the case!

These subjects are not suicide by any means. Challenging? Yes. Suicide? No. For both subjects, I would strongly recommend getting a head start on the material and working ahead. You'll find it tremendously useful. For most students, Mathematics HL throws preconceived notions of mathematical strength out of the window, and success in Chem IB is not well-predicted by past science courses - however, it's more than possible to hit at least a 6 in the former and a 7 in the latter with just hard work and practice. With that in mind, they are challenging subjects, and will take time if you do want to excel in them.

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It's not really as bad as they said, there are many people taking HL in this forum and a lot of them get 6s and 7s.

Seeing that you're also from Canada, I might just illustrate this using the syllabi for IB and for Ontario.

http://xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group5/d_5_mathl_gui_1206_1/html/xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group5/d_5_mathl_gui_1206_1/pdf/prior_learning_e.pdf

These are the prior learning topics required for math HL, if you know all of that you should be fine.

If you're in Ontario then it's equivalent to MPM2D, no extra stuff as far as I know.

http://xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group5/d_5_mathl_gui_1206_1/html/xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group5/d_5_mathl_gui_1206_1/pdf/syllabus_e.pdf

This is the syllabus for math HL, it's approximately equivalent to:

(I don't know what textbook you're using, but I'm using the Nelson one for MHF and MCV, McGrawHill one for MDM, other textbooks might be different)
MHF4U
+sequences and series (just need to know the formula)

+vieta's formula (just a formula)

+inverse trig functions (you should know what's an inverse function, and that's it)
+complex numbers (one of the bigger topics)
+proof of induction (one of the important topics, not long but important for further studies)
+MCV4U
-no ε-δ definition of limit (shame)
+related rates of change, implicit differentiation (one of the important topics)

+derivatives of inverse trig functions (more formulas)
+ntegration (the biggest topic that's not in the Ontario syllabus)
-some vectors stuff, skew lines etc
+MDM4U
+Bayes' theorem (formula)
+Poisson distribution (formula)
-hypothesis testing

-hypergeometric distribution

+an option chosen from the 4 (statistics and probability, calculus, sets relations and groups, discrete mathematics)

So you see it's really not a lot more than general Ontario system, I mean if you're planning to do something in the STEM field (if you're not then ignore all above and consider changing subject combination) you should be taking the three 4U math anyways.

Yes the questions are less straightforward than what you (generally) get in school but it's not like hell or suicide or insanely hard or something like that. There's two years, I really don't think that would be a problem.

...Seriously, even if you're still scared you can always start with 4 HLs and drop one down.

Note: I'm not trying to convince anyone to do math HL, I only do so when:

-it's obvious that they are at least interested in math (which is your case)

-they are planning to do something clearly related to math (unsure)

-they have misconceptions about the course although they should be competent for it (your case)

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Well, I guess I'll take it and see how it goes. Also thanks for the prerequisites needed for HL Math- I'll make sure I know all of those before going into HL Math. By the way, how much homework on average is given daily in HL Math?

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You could always take HL Maths to start then drop to SL if it gets too difficult.

I take HL Chemistry and the course is very maths-based, so if you're up for HL Maths, Chemistry should be a breeze :)

Edited by BioNinja

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I take maths HL and i really like it and i like working for it. Id advise that you start with 4 HL subjects so that you can drop one eventually. for maths you should be doing exerceises every day after school to practice. if you are up to it then I think you can do it.

Unfortunately, i dnt know about chemistry as i take physics

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Well, I guess I'll take it and see how it goes. Also thanks for the prerequisites needed for HL Math- I'll make sure I know all of those before going into HL Math. By the way, how much homework on average is given daily in HL Math?

It really depends on the class and how much homework you need, I'm (most probably) not at your school so I don't know.

For me I hardly ever get more than half an hour's worth of homework and if it's too boring I just do something else related but more interesting instead, but my cousin (who's not even in IB) in another school got like 20 questions everyday for the same MCV4U class.

Oh, near the exam you definitely should do some past papers, but that's two years later anyways.

Edited by ssy

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Is HL Chemistry really that math based? I thought HL Physics was the one which involved a lot of maths. Perhaps I got the two mixed up.

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Is HL Chemistry really that math based? I thought HL Physics was the one which involved a lot of maths. Perhaps I got the two mixed up.

Neither of them are.

I mean you have to know stuff like operating numbers, deriving equations, plotting graphs and solving for unknowns, but most of them is just prior knowledge.

For physics there's a bit more math, but it's still not a lot and it's not calculus based, so no worries.

Since you're may 2016 see this link for the new physics syllabus, near the beginning of the pdf they listed the mathematical requirements.

https://ibphysics2016.wikispaces.com/file/view/Physics_Guide_2016.pdf/487462852/Physics_Guide_2016.pdf

Here's the chemistry one, http://eachemistry.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/chem-syllabus-current.pdf

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Is HL Chemistry really that math based? I thought HL Physics was the one which involved a lot of maths. Perhaps I got the two mixed up.

The level of math that you need for Chemistry HL and Physics HL is straight-forward. You do not require Calculus (although it's really helpful to understand the derivations of the formulas in a much more rigorous way), and they are mostly based on algebraic manipulations. However, they are by no means easy, as they are a huge step forward compared to their SL versions (especially for Chemistry SL/HL). Some concepts are viewed in greater detail and are not purely memorization (such as in the case of Acids and Bases for Chemistry), and in some cases new material is introduced which can be quite challenging (such as Electromagnetic Induction for Physics).

Now, if you are planning to go into Math, I would say that it is almost mandatory for you to take Math HL (even if you don't get advanced standing for credits at university). The syllabus is not that complex compared to introductory Calculus courses, so it isn't as bad as they put it. However, the challenge lies on the fact that all of the topics are compressed in a single set of examinations (at university you have Calc 1, Calc 2 and take the examinations separately). But, the advantage is that you will do the whole syllabus in around 2 years, so that can help quite a bit (remember that you have other topics such as Prob & Stats). Another piece of useful advice should be that you should TAKE OPTION 9 (it should be a part of the actual syllabus, to be honest), as it covers important topics such as improper integrals, L'Hopital's Rule, power series, a brief introduction to differential equations and some theorems that are an absolute must for future Analysis courses (such as the Mean Value Theorem, Rolle's Theorem and conditions for differentiability/continuity). The course is hard yes, but you have to put the effort into it to do well in it. If your hunger for Math is still not satisfied, you can try looking at Further Math HL which covers most of the material in Introductory Linear Algebra courses and gives you an introduction into Abstract Algebra which you will very useful if you are going into a Math-heavy field.

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Hello,

I'm going to start the IBD Program this September in 2014. I have chosen my subjects, both SL and HL, however I am having second thoughts about my HL subject choices due to a massive amount of people telling me how difficult they are (even if you are good at the subject). HL English is compulsory for every student at my school and I'm not really worried about this. What I'm worried about is HL Mathematics and HL Chemistry- my other 2 HL's. Many people, both in real life and on the internet, have told me that these 2 subjects are basically suicide, especially HL Mathematics. I'm really worried, and don't know whether to continue on with these or not. If someone can shine some light on this issue, that'd be great.

Thank you.

Couple of things to say here.

Firstly, HL English can be deceptively difficult. You may think "its just english, how hard can it be to read a bunch of story books", but in reality it will catch up to you shockingly fast if you don't stay on top of your work. Make sure your IAs are very well done for this subject especially.

The other two subjects you mentioned are difficult, yes, but also not THAT difficult. You'll be fine if you're willing to work hard, put the required effort (which is a lot) and time towards it. They're not "suicide" by any means, but take quite a bit out of you. On the bright side though, if you actually like those subjects, they're hugely rewarding. The content is often interesting (for math, I didn't take chem HL) and it can be exciting to work through some of the more challenging problems. They're also viewed as excellent indicators of academic potential by many universities.

One point I must mention - if you can, steer your subjects towards your university course. If you want to do economics at university, for example, then you might want to exchange HL Chemistry for HL econs. You have a good combination for a lot of courses though. It's just something to bear in mind.

Overall, these subjects are in no way going to kill you. The only people who say that are those that haven't worked hard enough at it.

EDIT: Fixed some typos

Edited by yii yann
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Thanks for clearing up the confusion guys! I actually feel more confident now and less scared. And yes, I am planning to study maths in university and maybe science (chem, physics). That's why I'm focusing my HLs on maths and science. Apparently the HL Math teacher in our school is not very good, so that's what scares me just a little bit. Maybe it will effect my mark, no idea.

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Thanks for clearing up the confusion guys! I actually feel more confident now and less scared. And yes, I am planning to study maths in university and maybe science (chem, physics). That's why I'm focusing my HLs on maths and science. Apparently the HL Math teacher in our school is not very good, so that's what scares me just a little bit. Maybe it will effect my mark, no idea.

I agree with the people above, it mainly depends on your interest and how hard-working you are. I used to take HL maths and I used to be the best maths student in all my previous schools. However, this was in Norway and in Sweden and the maths-level at normal schools is not very high, so I had a lot to catch up. I studied 5h maths every single day, but then I dropped to SL maths, but I still have to work very hard there. What I did, since I was quite uncertain too, was that I started with 4 HL subjects, then I took 5 HL's and then I dropped down the one's that were too difficult. I also take HL chem, and yes, it is very maths based, but it should be fine as long as you don't take maths studies. HL chemistry is quite easy compared to maths HL, but again, it depends on the person. Since you mentioned that you apparently will have a bad teacher, you might want to re-consider whether you take HL maths or not. Because when you take difficult subjects like HL maths, it is important that you have a good teacher. Otherwise you could get a tutor, but they obviously cost money, so you have to think about that.

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