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Should I take Math HL?

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Hello.

I've recently been thinking a lot about this, whether I should take HL Math or not. I am currently in Grade 10 Pre-IB at Port Moody Secondary School, Vancouver, Canada. My goal for post-secondary is to get into the Computer Science program at University of Toronto, and if I cannot achieve that, Computer Science at Simon Fraser University. On U of T's admission requirements page for IB Students, it states both SL and HL are accepted.

However, I have heard a variety of opinions on this topic from many people. Some say that Math HL is needed for a CS Major, others say that taking HL for CS is a waste of time and if you can get through with SL, it would be the optimal decision. I've even heard from an individual that not even Math HL will teach you the amount of math needed for Computer Science, though based on some experience with coding, I don't believe this is true.

So now I'm here, stuck between thinking about SL or HL Math. I've never had trouble at all with Math so far in my life, except for maybe contest questions. I've always gotten above 90 Percent in my math classes at school and I'm currently not having much trouble with IB Math 10 this semester. I think that if I take HL Math, I'll get a 5 at most. And I'll probably get a better grade in SL. The TL;DR here is basically I can't decide between Math HL or SL. The university I want to get into accepts both for what I want to do. I might get through with SL but HL will probably give me a better chance of getting in, but I won't do as well in HL as SL.

Any help in helping me decide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

EDIT: Also, my school does NOT offer either Computer Science HL or SL.

Edited by PapaSmurf

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I recommend you should at least try Maths HL? Give it a go for a few lessons/weeks and perhaps you might find that you enjoy it/are able to do well in it! If not, then you can always give yourself the option of dropping back to SL. But if you start off at SL it will be a lot more difficult to go up to HL if your mind changes. But why don't you try and find out from a current student/s doing your desired Computer Program on whether they think HL is necessary? I think that would provide you with the best indication of whether you need to do HL maths or not. Having said that, if you like maths you could still do HL even if it's unnecessary. :)

& I think it's better if your mindset isn't "I'll get a 5 at most" but more "I'll do the best I can and aim high". :) You sound like you're doing quite well in maths, and the difference in succeeding between SL and HL is to some degree due to one's intellectual capacity, but a lot of it is also persevering through questions and practicing/revising. :) Hope this helps!

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However, I have heard a variety of opinions on this topic from many people. Some say that Math HL is needed for a CS Major, others say that taking HL for CS is a waste of time and if you can get through with SL, it would be the optimal decision. I've even heard from an individual that not even Math HL will teach you the amount of math needed for Computer Science, though based on some experience with coding, I don't believe this is true.

It really depends on what you want to do with CS. It's a massively broad field which doesn't just consist of coding, there are a lot of more theoretical topics which are very maths-heavy (complexity, algorithms, cryptography, etc). While you won't need to know it beforehand, many courses will likely cover mathematical topics such as discrete maths and set theory, so for such courses HL maths would likely be helpful. This isn't necessarily because SL maths doesn't cover as much content, but the questions are a lot harder, which is a good practice for problem solving at uni level. If you are looking into software engineering specifically on the other hand, it won't be quite as relevant.

As bluedino said above, I'd personally recommend just taking it as a 4th HL and seeing how it goes. I do think it'll be worth taking it at HL, but it does give the flexibility of dropping down if it becomes unbearable.

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Thanks! The thing with Math for me is that I don't struggle with basic school curriculum, but once you step it up to, say the "Hard" Contest Questions such as Part C questions on the Pascal Math Contest, I start to have some difficulty.

Edited by PapaSmurf

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