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I'm an ex-I/GCSE student joining the DP programme in a month, and a few weeks ago I met my IBC. I took English and Math Assessments, getting 92 and 100 (out of 100) respectively. The IBC actually threatened to kill me if I didn't take Math HL. I thought I could handle it, but after lurking several IB forums and HL textbooks, I feel less certain. Here are the subjects the IBC chose with me:

HL: English Lang/Lit, Math, Economics, History (which I haven't done in two years)

SL: French B, Biology

I love French. I still don't know what I'm going to take at university – I lean towards humanities and International Studies, but I would also like to do French. (St Andrews offers Joint Honours in both)

Questions: Should I do four HLs? (Apparently American universities appreciate the challenge)

Should I drop Math to SL and replace it with French B HL, or leave the three-three arrangement?

Thank you

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Before even answering your question,

 

Can I just suggest not doing 4 HLs?

Perhaps move History from the HL to the SL. That would be what I do, before even thinking about maths.

Especially when you say that you havent done history in 2 years (which might not even affect your grade in any way because you might be learning totally new topics even if you had done history in the last 2 years).

 

However, your university aspirations seem to be in areas that I doubt require HL math! In which case, History should stay in HL and maths should move to SL.

If you have any concerns about not being able to tackle maths (though your scores are impressive and it sounds like you'll ace maths HL).

 

Do you have to lock in your HLs and SLs before actually starting IB? I know that in our school we never officially picked our HLs until year 2 of IB.  This allowed us to see how well we were doing in the subjects and what we liked better. Maths HL was the only subject where we had to pick in year 1 (as it was taught separately to Maths SL).

 

If you do get the choice, I suggest starting with maths HL as it is much easier to drop out of maths HL and move to SL as compared to starting in SL and changing to HL.

 

I hope this was of some assistance.

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The way the subject choice list was presented to me involved each subject at HL and SL, and I haven't been told yet about how classes will be arranged. It's a new school for me, which is another issue.

I told myself that taking four HLs will be my personal challenge, and will allow me to see which subject I should drop to SL (though it seems by far evident). Should I inform my IBC of this, or let it happen?

Thanks for your answer! :D

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I would agree that finishing your Diploma with 4 HL subjects is probably not a good idea - it is a lot of effort for not that much of a benefit. However, I think that starting with 4 HL subjects is a good idea, as that allows you some flexibility to decide which subjects you would prefer to do at HL more. Most schools do allow you to decide which HL subject to drop when you are part way through the program, but do confirm that at your new school. With maths it's a particularly good idea to start with it at HL because it's nearly impossible to move from SL to HL, whereas it's much easier with other subjects. 

 

In terms of which HL subjects to do, I honestly have no idea about Economics or French B at SL vs HL. In terms of History and Maths HL, I personally think that both are pretty comparably difficult subjects, though I think (at least in Australian schools) History HL may be more popular. It does depend on your own skills and preferences - both are hard work and time-consuming, but maths is largely based on applying concepts in problem solving whereas you'll be doing a lot of reading and writing in history. I personally found History HL more of a challenge, but it depends on each person. So starting off with 4 HL subjects, getting some experience in all of those subjects, and then making your choice, is probably the best idea!

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In my experience, Maths HL is not necessarily nightmare-inducing as some people would have you believe. You should defo have a love for it, for sure, but just like any mathematics course, the secret to succeeding in it is not much of a secret at all - practice! Constant, repetitive practice!

 

In my school, lots of people take 4-5 HLs for the first one or two weeks of term and then depending on whichever HLs they like most, they drop the extra 1-2 to SL accordingly.

 

Try 4 HLs out, if you can handle it, continue, if you can't, you can always drop one of them to SL.

 

Challenge yourself a little bit. You can never fully realise what your limits are if you never test them. :)

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