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Dilemma - Math and Physics, which do i take at HL?

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I am having trouble deciding my final HL subject. My first two will be economics and chemistry.

Our school doesn't require us to choose our HL subjects until the second year so i have already had one year of experience in IB.

I would say i am very strong at maths and judging from first year ib, where i basically got 100% for everything, i will easily pass SL maths with a 7. Looking at past SL papers, they are a breeze.The thing is , i heard that the gap between SL and HL is gigantic.

I am also pretty strong in physics, although definitey not to the same extent as maths. I'm more of a 85% - 90% student. Is there much of a difference between SL and HL physics?

One more thing to consider is that at my school, HL math students are required to study math for one extra period. This means that if i took physics HL instead of Math HL, i would get an extra study period, meaning more time for all my other subjects. Adding to that is that I would not have to study for math as much because SL is a breeze and could spend more time on the other subjects...

So in a nutshell, I'm great at maths SL, wondering if the gap between Math SL and HL is greater than the one between physics HL and SL, and if it would be worth it to take Math HL even if it means i have to sacrifice an extra study period at the expense of all my other subjects, considering that I am not a weak physics student by any means, just not up to the same amazing standard as Math.

People who will inevitably say "pick the one you enjoy more", i enjoy maths more but that is probably because I am good at it.

Any thoughts are appreciated!

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You need roughly 70% on your physics exam to get a 7. The difference between HL and SL in physics is in my opinion less significant than the differences between the two in chemistry - the HL topics in chemistry require concentration :P.

Switching to Math HL while there only is one year left before finals would be too risky and perhaps overkilling.

If you use the right materials and follow the IB syllabus for physics, you will manage it! Do not use Tsokos' physics book!

Physics is my easiest subject.

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If you enjoy maths because maths is awesome in itself, take HL. It is amazing.

Otherwise take Physics HL.

Our school streams mathematics at the start of the IB Diploma to accommodate for the gap between SL and HL - getting 100% in SL maths is by no means a feasible measure of what you might get in HL. If you want a 7 in HL Maths, it is your depth of thinking that needs to change. Accuracy becomes a comparatively minor issue.

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If you have to study all your HL subjects in the second year, I would suggest taking Physics, as it builds upon what is taught already in SL, and is more content as opposed to necessarily being more challenging (though learning more concepts, in my opinion, is more challenging).

Maths HL however is a different thing all together to SL - not only is there more content, but the rigour of the examination questions is far, far, far higher. I would recommend looking at HL past papers - because believe me, SL exam paper questions are absolutely dead easy compared to the HL ones. That would probably allow you to appreciate the difference between SL and HL. As mentioned by Joez, it is the depth of the thinking that matters, as opposed to applying mathematical processes accurately as in SL.

However, if you do like Maths, and you seem to be a strong student, Maths HL is really fun, and a great choice intellectually. Also, having Physics, Chem, Eco HL without Maths seems to be less 'balanced' (but that's a minor consideration) However, pragmatically, Physics HL appears to be more convenient. Both are great subjects though, so good luck! :)

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Choose whatever you want, but I want to point out a difference between SL and HL in Maths and SL and HL in most other subjects. Most other subjects you have your core topics and then for HL its more of a case of just learning more content. Maths is not like that at all. Its not just more content you have to learn, the mathematical sophistication you need jumps up significantly which is the challenge of HL. My school was kinda like yours in that I didn't have to choose my HLs until IB2, with the exception of Maths because while the content could be learned in a year, the mathematical sophistication takes longer to develop for most people.

Basically adjusting from SL to HL is going to be a lot harder in maths than physics.

Another thing is what are you going to study at university and what country?

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Thanks for the responses so far. I would like to do medicine in Australia.

I understand what you guys have said so far, in that the problem solving aspect is greater in HL math. I've seen it this year because our teacher gave us some HL math exam questions as a sample for next year if we choose to do HL. They are indeed quite challenging in that you use many different mathematical techniques in one questions. The SL questions i agree are very straightforward, mind numblingly so, but i think i can handle the problem solving aspect of HL maths because i have the HL math question bank, and i have done some HL exam style questions on the core topics (the topics we covered this year). Some of the questions are not that difficult, its what I always expected math to be - problem solving. (until i did SL math, where it was so obvious how the solution would be found to the question) The final math exam this year incorporated two HL questions and i scored well in both of them.

Having said that, I am leaning towards Physics HL purely because as you guys have said, it is just more topics. I'm tempted to just take the "easy" 7 in SL maths. I would have much more time to focus on other subjects as math SL would be a breeze and i would also get another study period to work on other subjects.

From what i've heard, the ATAR (derived from your total IB score), is the most important requirement for Unis for med entry in Australia. The other requirements are one of chem, SL maths or biology, which i meet easily.

Edited by Undelicious

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Thanks for the responses so far. I would like to do medicine in Australia.

I understand what you guys have said so far, in that the problem solving aspect is greater in HL math. I've seen it this year because our teacher gave us some HL math exam questions as a sample for next year if we choose to do HL. They are indeed quite challenging in that you use many different mathematical techniques in one questions. The SL questions i agree are very straightforward, mind numblingly so, but i think i can handle the problem solving aspect of HL maths because i have the HL math question bank, and i have done some HL exam style questions on the core topics (the topics we covered this year). Some of the questions are not that difficult, its what I always expected math to be - problem solving. (until i did SL math, where it was so obvious how the solution would be found to the question) The final math exam this year incorporated two HL questions and i scored well in both of them.

Having said that, I am leaning towards Physics HL purely because as you guys have said, it is just more topics. I'm tempted to just take the "easy" 7 in SL maths. I would have much more time to focus on other subjects as math SL would be a breeze and i would also get another study period to work on other subjects.

From what i've heard, the ATAR (derived from your total IB score), is the most important requirement for Unis for med entry in Australia. The other requirements are one of chem, SL maths or biology, which i meet easily.

There is definitely no need to do either Maths or Physics at HL to get into medicine for Australia - in fact, I don't really think they care if you do Chemistry or Biology, it is the ATAR based on your IB score that matters, not the subject you study. Maths SL is more than sufficient. However, if you really do like maths, you should still consider doing HL as you won't be doing it at university - however, I guess Physics is also nice to study as well. People who I know who dropped from Maths HL to SL did find it very easy to cope with, so you should have a good next time next year if you do study Physics HL and Maths SL.

Also, if you're doing medicine in Australia, most undergraduate degrees (not all, but most of the prestigious courses/courses not in the middle of nowhere) require UMAT, so in fact your ATAR matters even less - but that's no reason not to work on maximising your IB score of course :)

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Thanks for the responses so far. I would like to do medicine in Australia.

I understand what you guys have said so far, in that the problem solving aspect is greater in HL math. I've seen it this year because our teacher gave us some HL math exam questions as a sample for next year if we choose to do HL. They are indeed quite challenging in that you use many different mathematical techniques in one questions. The SL questions i agree are very straightforward, mind numblingly so, but i think i can handle the problem solving aspect of HL maths because i have the HL math question bank, and i have done some HL exam style questions on the core topics (the topics we covered this year). Some of the questions are not that difficult, its what I always expected math to be - problem solving. (until i did SL math, where it was so obvious how the solution would be found to the question) The final math exam this year incorporated two HL questions and i scored well in both of them.

Having said that, I am leaning towards Physics HL purely because as you guys have said, it is just more topics. I'm tempted to just take the "easy" 7 in SL maths. I would have much more time to focus on other subjects as math SL would be a breeze and i would also get another study period to work on other subjects.

From what i've heard, the ATAR (derived from your total IB score), is the most important requirement for Unis for med entry in Australia. The other requirements are one of chem, SL maths or biology, which i meet easily.

There is definitely no need to do either Maths or Physics at HL to get into medicine for Australia - in fact, I don't really think they care if you do Chemistry or Biology, it is the ATAR based on your IB score that matters, not the subject you study. Maths SL is more than sufficient. However, if you really do like maths, you should still consider doing HL as you won't be doing it at university - however, I guess Physics is also nice to study as well. People who I know who dropped from Maths HL to SL did find it very easy to cope with, so you should have a good next time next year if you do study Physics HL and Maths SL.

Also, if you're doing medicine in Australia, most undergraduate degrees (not all, but most of the prestigious courses/courses not in the middle of nowhere) require UMAT, so in fact your ATAR matters even less - but that's no reason not to work on maximising your IB score of course :)

yeah, thats why the smaller workload of physics HL seems appealing to me, so i can prepare for UMAT. I'm not dying to study maths, i just want to maximize my ATAR and do a good UMAT

Edited by Undelicious

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