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IB Subject Choices

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I am starting my IB Year 1 in about 2 months time, and I am unsure of my subject choices.

These are my tentative choices:

Biology HL

Chemistry HL

Maths HL

English A1 SL

Chinese B SL

Econs SL

I intend to pursue Medicine/Biochem in uni, but I am unsure as to whether I should take Maths HL or Econs HL instead. If I do Maths SL I'm pretty confident of a 7, but I've heard many horror stories about Maths HL, so I'm not sure if I would do well in it. I would be willing to spend alot of time on it, but this is in addition to the mountains of IA that my school will give for Bio and Chem. So, should I spend that much time and brainpower on Maths HL, or switch to Econs HL instead? My purpose in taking Maths HL is to make my HLs look much more impressive and at the same time open up more options in the future in the event that I change my mind. Thanks in advance.

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Which university are you aiming for/which country??

Have a look at their requirements for your preferred course.

I do math studies so I can't give a really valid comment, but Math HL is really hard and is best for those who actually love math/work hard. If that's you, then I'm sure you could do it with lots of hard work and dedication =)

For med/bio chem, math would probably be more useful than economics. I don't know how much math you'd actually need, but I'm assuming you don't need much economics haha.

Economics HL is much easier than Math HL in my opinion. But I'm sure there could be some people who find it the other way around (I doubt it). Economics HL is just a lot of diagrams/pure theory. I heard that they might be introducing econometrics to the economics syllabus (math in economics sort of thing) in a few years so check if that applies to you.

But yeah, unless you plan on doing something bus/eco related at uni, math HL would probably keep a lot of possibilites open, just if you could be bothered to do 2 years of math HL.

Speak to your IB coordinator/past students at your school/career counselor for some more advice as they should have fairly valid judgments

Good luck and think hard about it! =)

p.s: a word of wisdom, a subject in IB (in anything really) is A LOT easier if you enjoy it/find it interesting, so make sure you like your subjects :P

Edited by Matthew Sinclair

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Hmm, my school those who wished to pursue Medicine in the UK were advised to make a switch to Math HL from Math SL, so if that's where you're aiming for, you should consider it. (:

Have you taken a look at any past papers or syllabus (which can be found somewhere here on the site)? Those may help you get to know the subject content and make it easier to figure out if you want to take math/econs at HL.


p.s: a word of wisdom, a subject in IB (in anything really) is A LOT easier if you enjoy it/find it interesting, so make sure you like your subjects

:P !

Good luck!

Edited by Wernie

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Your subject choices (not considering the levels) are the right ones for medicine. Considering levels:

Bio and Chem HL is necessary I would say. Because if you are able to handle medicine then you should be able to handle chem and bio HL (besides they're nice :)).

Math HL: I have heard so many people get into med school and pre-med with math SL. In fact all the student in my grade who got into medicine including me, did math SL (our 2 math SL classes were full of med applicants :(). I would say most unis only requires Math SL.

Math HL is a nightmare yes, at least thats what I've seen my friends say the whole time. The thing is, Math HL may take so much time of you that you will prioritize it over Bio and Chem HL, which are far more important if you want to get into med school.


Making your HLs look more impressive is useless if it's going to kill you. Doing Math SL, Bio HL and Chem HL, and getting: 7.7.7..or even 7,7,6 is MUCH better than doing all those as HL and getting not so good points. I know so universities set one of their requirements as : 7,7,6 for HL subjects. Doesn't matter if one of those is Math HL orr English HL. If they didn't say we require Math HL, then it doesn't matter!

Doing Chem&Bio HL and Math SL.. AND Economics SL already leaves so many doors open for you if you decide to change your mind! So don't worry about that, it's not like all yoru subjects are for med only.( Although Chem&Bio HL takers are mostly med applicants)

So think about YOUR abilities before the way your subjects look. Also Math SL isn't nothing. It is a good level, and getting a 7 in it is excellent. If you are certain you are capable of getting a 7 in SL, then I would put Math SL immediately without even considering HL. Like I said, me and my friends got into med school with MATH SL, in Africa, Europe, Asia, NA, Australia.

Don't lose points you could have easily got just because you want your HLs to look impressive. :)

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Hey guys, thanks for the advice. But wouldn't Maths HL allow me to pursue certain engineering courses and economics courses if I change my mind? Even if I take medicine, would maths HL show a higher level of logical thinking?

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Your HL choices are exactly the same as mine!

I haven't done Maths SL before so to be honest, I can't really comment on the difference between HL and SL. During IB1, I considered dropping to SL a few times because I wasn't doing that well in HL (I was getting mostly 5s and 6s). But looking back, I'm glad that I persevered. My grades improved a lot this year- I'm getting high 6s and 7s now. So despite all the stories about HL, it isn't impossible as long as you put in the work.

In our school, many people start with HL ,and those who want to can drop down to SL the following year. Is that an option at your school?

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