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IB Physics or Biology? (help >.<)

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So recently, I've been having some doubts about my IB options (I'm beginning IB later this year in August), and I'd just like some advice from anyone who has experience with IB or any of the subjects mentioned below. Sorry for the long post, but any help would be greatly appreciated!! (Current choices are: HL - Chemistry, Maths, Economics // SL - English Literature A, Chinese A, and Music) I really messed my IGCSE options up, so when it comes to choosing the right subjects for IB, I become pretty paranoid.

Here's my situation: I don't really know what I want to do in uni/the future, but am currently considering Pharmacy or Chem Engineering in uni, but I'm not sure. (Econ is a backup, in case I don't make it to Pharmacy, etc., I can still apply for something in the finance/econ/business field, esp. with HL Maths). Here are the subjects that I am very unsure about taking: HL Maths and (mainly) SL Music.

Basically, I really want to take a second natural science (probably at SL to replace Music). I took SL Music as sort of a 'safety net' as I'm experienced in music and have been actively involved with it from a young age, but I know that I don't want to go into the music field in the future, so taking music would be rather useless in terms of career/uni prospects. I do rather well for both Biology and Physics (at IGCSE, currently), though I think I'm a bit better at biology - I will partially blame that on my current physics teacher, who isn't very good. At this point, you'd probably think that taking SL Biology would be the obvious way to go, but the problem is that I find Biology incredibly tedious, and the fact that I'm not terribly great at memorising large chunks of information doesn't help either. One persuasive factor for taking SL Bio is that the bio teachers at my school are all good at teaching. It also seems to be relatively easy to understand the comcepts/topics. I know that if I want to do Pharmacy, taking Biology would be the more logical choice, but then again, Biology isn't required for Pharmacy in many unis.

For physics, I am fascinated with astrophysics, but that is only a small unit of the course, unfortunately. The other parts of the physics course, I'd say isn't incredibly interesting to me, but I'd probably prefer it over Biology. However, I've heard that Physics is exhaustingly difficult even at SL, not to mention that the SL physics teachers at my school aren't very good (all the great teachers are teaching HL haha.. - one of the great HL teachers taught me for IGCSE, he explains and teaches very well, and he makes me feel like learning all about physics, I'd take SL in a heartbeat if he was teaching it *sobs*). Though I might consider taking HL Physics and drop to SL Maths or drop to SL Econ and keep HL Maths. I know that Physics is useful for Engineering, which is also something I'm considering (although Chem engineering isn't exactly the same, taking physics would probably be more helpful than bio right?).

Sorry for the long boring post, but I'm just looking for some helpful advice from the IB survival community, so if you know anything that can help, don't hesitate to reply! :)

Thanks! :D

 

Edited by chenji

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Other majors, such as biomedical engineering, biosystems, bioproducts, material science, life science, are also very related to both pharmacy and chemical engineering. Keep these options open. 

I had a very experienced SL Physics teacher. Compared to the local curriculum, SL was easier but covered more topics. IB Physics is ok once you get use to rearranging equations and apply problem solving skills. I heard that IB Biology has a lot of memorization. If it comes down to HL Physics or HL Math, I say HL Physics can make you a better chance at getting into the school, but HL Math can push you to perform better once you are admitted. 

Many students in my class took chemistry, physics, and biology at the high school level (such as night or summer classes), although not all at IB level. If such option exists in Hong Kong then that's something to consider. It's likely chemistry will be sufficient to getting into pharmacy. 
It's hard to predict how good of marks you will get on Day 1 so it's best to take subjects you like and are recognized by post-secondary schools. All of your classes are of this category. Switching SL Music for SL Physics or SL Biology may be a good idea because you can probably play music outside of class, such as in a school band. It's often true that SL Math also fulfill admission requirements but HL Math can give you a more competitive edge. After a few months into IB you should decide if your class combination is good, if for example taking HL Math meant you are getting below 30/45 then it would be a good idea to switch to SL after year 1 and hopefully score a better overall mark. 

Remember that above all, you grades and classes are not sole determinators in post-secondary admission and there may be some slight room for variations. Don't be pressured to think there is exactly one right class combination for you.

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Hey there, I am a Hong Kong student that takes similar subjects that you do, but I take double science, that makes it (HL: Chemistry, Biology, Economics, SL: Math, Chinese A, English A Lang Lit). I can tell you the benefits and struggle of taking double science, still, I will recommend it only if you are interested in the subjects completely, know how to memorize (BIOLOGY) and be confident in analyzing data. 

Refer to kw0573's post, Chemistry is sufficient to get into pharmacy for Hong Kong although the high competition here does not favor students with only one science subject, more factors will take into account for unis in Hong Kong. 

I was lost before I even go for IBDP subjects until IB2 that I realized taking double science is useless when I am going to Economics / Business field, not Medical or Pharmacy that I dreamed of. However, do not be afraid that your subject combination may be wrong or oh my god maybe I will get into a subject that is not related at all. If you have a dream uni subject to go for in the future, that's good; If you are lost, subject combinations will not be the greatest problem, as long as you show interest in your subjects, for example if I didn't take History and English HL for Law, I can still apply for Law School as long I have shown interest, applying to summer course related to it, etc. A lot of factor counts in applying to specific subjects for University. 

For now, I will recommend you to gather your idea of what you want to do in the future, then select one-two science for it, no subject is "useless". Some subjects require specific IB subjects, chemistry for pharmacy, physics for engineering (Or maybe not, I am just speaking for Hong Kong universities) Your subject combo is not the only factor that gets you into a specific subject in the university, it is the interest that matters to University. Don't get too stressed over subject combinations because you can still change after you get into IBDP, just think of like what you want to take, if not, a backup solution for it. 

If you want any more advice, send me a message <3 

Gayau :D:D 

**Some part of it may not make sense because I am exhausted revising for IB, so direct question will be better.** 

Edited by inriya
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15 hours ago, kw0573 said:

Other majors, such as biomedical engineering, biosystems, bioproducts, material science, life science, are also very related to both pharmacy and chemical engineering. Keep these options open. 

I had a very experienced SL Physics teacher. Compared to the local curriculum, SL was easier but covered more topics. IB Physics is ok once you get use to rearranging equations and apply problem solving skills. I heard that IB Biology has a lot of memorization. If it comes down to HL Physics or HL Math, I say HL Physics can make you a better chance at getting into the school, but HL Math can push you to perform better once you are admitted. 

Many students in my class took chemistry, physics, and biology at the high school level (such as night or summer classes), although not all at IB level. If such option exists in Hong Kong then that's something to consider. It's likely chemistry will be sufficient to getting into pharmacy. 
It's hard to predict how good of marks you will get on Day 1 so it's best to take subjects you like and are recognized by post-secondary schools. All of your classes are of this category. Switching SL Music for SL Physics or SL Biology may be a good idea because you can probably play music outside of class, such as in a school band. It's often true that SL Math also fulfill admission requirements but HL Math can give you a more competitive edge. After a few months into IB you should decide if your class combination is good, if for example taking HL Math meant you are getting below 30/45 then it would be a good idea to switch to SL after year 1 and hopefully score a better overall mark. 

Remember that above all, you grades and classes are not sole determinators in post-secondary admission and there may be some slight room for variations. Don't be pressured to think there is exactly one right class combination for you.

Thanks for your reply! :)

I'm jealous that you had a very good SL Physics teacher :P  The thing is, you are correct that Chemistry is the only required subject for pharmacy, but most people take two sciences anyways to make them stronger candidates for universities. This is partly why I want to take two sciences (plus the fact that I like science too ;))

If you were in my position, would you pick SL Physics or Biology? (Keeping in mind that the SL Physics teachers are not good, whilst the Bio teachers are very good).  

I also see that you took HL Eng Lit and Maths and Chem. Can I ask you how difficult each of the subjects were for you, and what advice you'd offer to people who will be taking those subjects next year? I am scared for IB English Lit (although I am only taking SL) because I'm already struggling with IGCSE English Literature haha >w<

Also, in your opinion, which do you think is more difficult: HL Maths or HL Physics? Can I also ask what you took for university? (Sorry, I have a lot of questions, I just really don't want to be stuck doing subjects I dislike for 2 years again like I did for my IGCSEs xD)

 

Edited by chenji

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2 hours ago, chenji said:

I'm jealous that you had a very good SL Physics teacher :P  The thing is, you are correct that Chemistry is the only required subject for pharmacy, but most people take two sciences anyways to make them stronger candidates for universities. This is partly why I want to take two sciences (plus the fact that I like science too ;))

Yeah so I was saying a lot people in my class took 3 of the sciences, namely biology, physics and chemistry, and two of which in IB. Some people took a fourth (or third) in computer science as well. 

2 hours ago, chenji said:

If you were in my position, would you pick SL Physics or Biology? (Keeping in mind that the SL Physics teachers are not good, whilst the Bio teachers are very good).  

Objectively speaking, you wouldn't need as much notes in SL Physics. I think I can fit rewritten notes in 10-15 sides of a page, for biology you need maybe 50 or more. But in your case, I would probably take SL biology, which actually uses much more memorization. Mainly that is ok if you can take physics outside of IB. If you can't, I am not sure what to recommend because you say you don't like memorizing and the SL teacher is bad. 

3 hours ago, chenji said:

I also see that you took HL Eng Lit and Maths and Chem. Can I ask you how difficult each of the subjects were for you, and what advice you'd offer to people who will be taking those subjects next year? I am scared for IB English Lit (although I am only taking SL) because I'm already struggling with IGCSE English Literature haha >w<

I wasn't aiming for a 7 in Eng lit and I didn't really know how to thrive in that class. I know people who jumped from 4 to 7 in two years. There was more memorization that I'd anticipated, especially for us we chose to learn poetry for Paper 2, and I memorized 10 short (<30 lines) poems out of a pool of about 40 that my school chose. For IOC (one of the IA, easier but similar at SL), I had to study another 40 poems out of which one will be drawn in an impromptu oral commentary, though to be fair some schools don't tell students what the possible poems are. For literature each IB assignment is just based on 2-3 works so once you read the work, get assessed on it by IB, then you don't have to worry about it. Many other IB classes are culminating, meaning what you learned throughout two years will be tested on the finals. Difficult course, but I got the score I was hoping for. 

We had 60 out of 70 IB students in my year taking HL Math. We had good teachers and questions from a variety of textbooks. We don't use an textbook specifically for IB, because I think teachers think they are too focused on the markschemes but we were more interested in lots of practice problems. We covered about 10-15% of material shallowly before IB, which is expected, so for example we covered much of algebra and functions topics. Definitely there will be times where you have to spend an hour or more on a homework problem but they are mostly worth it. Difficult, but if you work consistently throughout two years final revision will not take too much time. This goes for most subjects.

I think I really underestimated HL Chemistry's difficulty in year 1. We learned about 75% of content in year 2 and the course emphasize both in problem solving skills and grasp of concepts. Math on the other hand you could just be on automode and not really realizing what you are doing; IB doesn't allocate too many marks to test you conceptually, maybe 5-6 marks out of a 120 mark exam. Read your textbook before coming to class. Revise regularly. Probably my and objectively most difficult HL but then I didn't work as consistently throughout year 2 on chemistry as I had done in math.

3 hours ago, chenji said:

Also, in your opinion, which do you think is more difficult: HL Maths or HL Physics? 

I would say HL Math you need to spend more time on it, but HL Physics is conceptually more difficult. Math exams are about speed (often times there can be a 20-mark question that I have no idea why I am doing what I do, but I just follow the prompts and get through most of the problem). Physics exams are really about knowing concepts on point and being able to use them. So math it would be you know largely what to do but maybe you can't finish in time. In (HL) physics you have ample amount of time, but it's either you get the question or you sit there half an hour trying to remember. As a result it's much easier to predict exam scores on math exams than physics ones. 

3 hours ago, chenji said:

Can I also ask what you took for university?

What do you mean? You should be able to see my classes from my signature. I am in an engineering program right now. 
 

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18 hours ago, kw0573 said:

What do you mean? You should be able to see my classes from my signature. I am in an engineering program right now. 

Oops, I should have deduced. :P

Anyways, thank you so much for your helpful advice! I really appreciate it :)  

One last thing: I don't understand what you mean when you say lots of people in your class took 3 sciences and 2 in IB - they took 3 sciences for what?? (I understand taking 2 sciences in IB)

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5 hours ago, chenji said:

Oops, I should have deduced. :P

Anyways, thank you so much for your helpful advice! I really appreciate it :)  

One last thing: I don't understand what you mean when you say lots of people in your class took 3 sciences and 2 in IB - they took 3 sciences for what?? (I understand taking 2 sciences in IB)

I think most of them are in a science or engineering program or hoping to get to med school. Often times they (we) weren't fully deciding what major to pursue and the third science may meet admission requirements. They took the third science in either night or summer school.

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13 hours ago, kw0573 said:

I think most of them are in a science or engineering program or hoping to get to med school. Often times they (we) weren't fully deciding what major to pursue and the third science may meet admission requirements. They took the third science in either night or summer school.

Ahh I get it now. I don't think I'll be able to do that hahah, but thanks for the advice anyways! ^_^ 

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