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Felipe Doria

Is Mathematics HL required to study theoretical physics at the university?

My school does not offer Mathematics HL or Physics HL. I am currently taking Economics, English A2 and Spanish A1 HL(English and Spanish HL are compulsory in my school) and Chemistry, Physics and Math SL, but my school has offered me the possibility of studying Physics HL by myself instead of taking the Economics HL IB exam. However, I still don't have the possibility of studying Math HL, and, from what I've heard, Math HL is too hard to study by myself. However, I want to study theoretical physics or possibly even mathematical physics at a good university in the USA, like MIT. Is Math HL a requirement for this? What do you think of studying Physics or Math HL by myself? Keep in mind that there is a good physics and a good math professor in my school, but my school does not offer these courses because not enough students want them. Thank you for your help!

Edited by Felipe Doria

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From what I've heard, US universities look more at your grades than your subjects, but I'm not an expert. It should be listed somewhere on their website, though, so I suggest checking that for the unis you're interested in  ^_^ That said, Math HL will prepare you much more for a degree in physics (especially mathematical) than SL will. Then again, you won't get into MIT without great grades, so that's definitely something to consider. Myself, I'm basically self-studying math HL as the only student in my school and I'm doing relatively fine (6s and 7s). It's not something I'd recommend if you don't need it, though. Hard to know how much I'm missing out on until Exams, I guess...  <_<

Now, did you say that your school won't allow you to study Math HL on your own, or did I misunderstand you? Then, of course, there's not much you can do!

 

(Oh, and definitely take Physics)

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I haven't asked them specifically for Math HL, but I don't think they would mind. I think I'm going to try to study Math HL and Physics HL during my summer holidays (I'm in the southern hemisphere) and see what they're like. On MIT's website it says that international students are recommended to have studied "Mathematics, at least at the level of calculus." Calculus is studied in Math SL, right? It also says that I need "two or more years of History"; it's not required to take IB History to apply to universities like MIT, is it? Thanks a lot for your help.

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I haven't asked them specifically for Math HL, but I don't think they would mind. I think I'm going to try to study Math HL and Physics HL during my summer holidays (I'm in the southern hemisphere) and see what they're like. On MIT's website it says that international students are recommended to have studied "Mathematics, at least at the level of calculus." Calculus is studied in Math SL, right? It also says that I need "two or more years of History"; it's not required to take IB History to apply to universities like MIT, is it? Thanks a lot for your help.

 

I remembered that it's also said on their website that these requirements are for what they called 'ideal' applicants. In other words, people who haven't reached these requirements are still more than welcome to apply. Since the course is about physics, i would say that your grades in mathematics & physics, your extracurricular activities, and possible an interview in MIT would be the determining-factors of whether you will get in or not. So i don't think you should worry about history. However, i would say that taking math HL would double your chance of getting to university, especially those on the top such as MIT.

 

I took Math HL & Physics HL, but frankly, i never really focused in class. In fact, i always tried to do homework for other subjects instead of listening to the lectures from the teachers. So i basically just studied these 2 subjects on my own, simply because self-study is my favourite style of learning. From my personal experience, there are 3 things to consider if you want to study by yourself:

1. A strong will + hard work

2. Having a good textbook

3. Being able to take good notes

If you have these 3 things, then i would strongly recommend you to study Math HL and Physics HL, even if you have to do that by yourself. Moreover, Math HL is extremely important for theoretical physics because mathematics is the language of nature, isn't it? ;)

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As I said previously, Spanish and English HL are compulsory in my school, do you think taking 4 HL subjects is worth it? If so, which textbooks do you recommend for Physics and Math HL? Thank you for your help!

Edited by Felipe Doria

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I would say it's going to be a lot of work, but you'd definitely increase your chances of getting into a good physics program and actually getting something from that program. I'm doing 4 HLs, including Physics and Maths, and it's manageable. Especially if you're passionate about physics (which I'm not)  ^_^ If anything, try it out and see if you can cope.  :)

I'm using the Pearson Physics book and the Oxford (core) plus Cambridge (option) Math books. All in all, I think they're okay, but I haven't tried any of the others so I can't compare. I know there is a thread about which math book to use on IBS somewhere, though - try searching for that :)

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As I said previously, Spanish and English HL are compulsory in my school, do you think taking 4 HL subjects is worth it? If so, which textbooks do you recommend for Physics and Math HL? Thank you for your help!

 

There are a lot of good books out there that you can use. And people will of course have different opinions regarding which textbook is the best. But anyhow, from my own experience, these following books are what I would recommend:

 

1. Physics: Cambridge Tsokos book (5th edition) is the best book for IB in my opinion. Prior to IB, I was extremely bad at physics (I even couldn't understand simple concepts such as Newton's law). However, this book gave me hopes and helped me understand the beauty of physics throughout the 2 years of IB. Many people complained that the book is too mathematical, but I disagree because I think that this is exactly the way physics students shoudl be taught. Mathematics is clearly the language of nature; so how can one understand physics without incorporating a little bit of maths in it? The book also doesn't oversimplify concepts as it's done in other books. Also, you can find online worked solutions to each of the questions. I love this book, and would definitely give it an infinite numbers of stars :P

 

2. Maths (core): Oxford, Cambridge or Pearson are all good math textbooks in IB. As you've probably heard before, one shoud always use at least 2 math books in IB; so I would recommend using both Cambridge and Pearson. Pearson is a brilliant textbook if you are used to the way mathematics is supposed to be written. In other words, the language used in Pearson is so advanced that it looks exactly like how university maths books are supposed to look like. In this book, all the definitions are made so precise and mathematical, making it hard to follow sometimes. However, if you use this book often, then your skill in communicating mathematics through symbols and precise concepts will be greatly improved; making it much easier for you to do your Math IA later on. Now, for any chapters that Pearson doesn't explain well, then you should switch to the Cambridge book :)

 

3. Maths (options): Never use Pearson book for options. They are badly written; and I think the contents are a bit more advanced than what a HL student should know. As Sofia Karlsson suggested, with options, go with Cambridge! It's really the best!

 

Cheers! and good luck! :)

Edited by Vioh
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As I said previously, Spanish and English HL are compulsory in my school, do you think taking 4 HL subjects is worth it? If so, which textbooks do you recommend for Physics and Math HL? Thank you for your help!

 

There are a lot of good books out there that you can use. And people will of course have different opinions regarding which textbook is the best. But anyhow, from my own experience, these following books are what I would recommend:

 

1. Physics: Cambridge Tsokos book (5th edition) is the best book for IB in my opinion. Prior to IB, I was extremely bad at physics (I even couldn't understand simple concepts such as Newton's law). However, this book gave me hopes and helped me understand the beauty of physics throughout the 2 years of IB. Many people complained that the book is too mathematical, but I disagree because I think that this is exactly the way physics students shoudl be taught. Mathematics is clearly the language of nature; so how can one understand physics without incorporating a little bit of maths in it? The book also doesn't oversimplify concepts as it's done in other books. Also, you can find online worked solutions to each of the questions. I love this book, and would definitely give it an infinite numbers of stars :P

 

2. Maths (core): Oxford, Cambridge or Pearson are all good math textbooks in IB. As you've probably heard before, one shoud always use at least 2 math books in IB; so I would recommend using both Cambridge and Pearson. Pearson is a brilliant textbook if you are used to the way mathematics is supposed to be written. In other words, the language used in Pearson is so advanced that it looks exactly like how university maths books are supposed to look like. In this book, all the definitions are made so precise and mathematical, making it hard to follow sometimes. However, if you use this book often, then your skill in communicating mathematics through symbols and precise concepts will be greatly improved; making it much easier for you to do your Math IA later on. Now, for any chapters that Pearson doesn't explain well, then you should switch to the Cambridge book :)

 

3. Maths (options): Never use Pearson book for options. They are badly written; and I think the contents are a bit more advanced than what a HL student should know. As Sofia Karlson suggested, with options, go with Cambridge! It's really the best!

 

Cheers! and good luck! :)

 

I'll definitely get those books, thank you for your help! Do you think I should take 4 HL subjects?

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I'll definitely get those books, thank you for your help! Do you think I should take 4 HL subjects?

 

Are you taking English Lang and Lit, English B, or English Literature? I hope that you don't take English Literature because other courses of English are so much simpler and easy even if they are put at HL.

 

I think you should definitely take 4 HL subjects. But of course, you need to work very hard! Try to think that you are doing 4 HL subjects because you really love Math and Physics, but not because that you have to do that. Remember that if you love the subjects and you work hard, you can basically achieve anything in life! So good luck :)

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I'll definitely get those books, thank you for your help! Do you think I should take 4 HL subjects?

 

Are you taking English Lang and Lit, English B, or English Literature? I hope that you don't take English Literature because other courses of English are so much simpler and easy even if they are put at HL.

 

I think you should definitely take 4 HL subjects. But of course, you need to work very hard! Try to think that you are doing 4 HL subjects because you really love Math and Physics, but not because that you have to do that. Remember that if you love the subjects and you work hard, you can basically achieve anything in life! So good luck :)

 

I'm doing English language and literature (I think its A2, but I might be wrong), and Spanish literature (A1). Thank you for your help!

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