Jump to content

Recommended Posts


I'm might entering the IB curriculum starting this week, so I would appreciate some response regarding my IB subjects;

English Lang & Lit HL

Economics HL 

Physics HL

Math SL

Biology SL

Swedish Lang & Lit SL

After thorough consideration, I personally figured out that this may be a reasonably challenging combination with a balance of essay writing and problem solving. However, I am concerned about me being prepared for the subjects academically. 

1. English is not my first language, however throughout the years I've always attained a good grade in as it's been one of my stronger subjects. Being nearly fluent in writing and oral communication, is it possible to get a good grade in it even though I'm not a native?

2. Is Physics HL mathematically too hard if I take Math SL? From what I understand, physics is more about learning new concepts and applying them to problems using math as "support". Am I wrong/ is it solely based on math at a higher level?

3. Is Bio SL an easy/hard subject? I've decided on Bio SL though elimination of the remaining subjects I don't enjoy. I also believe that it'll maintain the rigour of my combination (as it's respected by colleges), but in a "less challenging" manner. I've also had quite some experience with the subject, hence why I believe parts of it will be more of a repetition. 

4. Is it too hard to juggle two language A courses? Swedish is my first language and I've always been pretty good at in school so taking it isn't really a question for me- (But if you guys have had this subject, please share some insight on it's difficulty, content etc). Also, I'm assuming that the two Lang & Lit subjects go in line with each other since they're the same in terms of structure. Won't that make it easier, considering that I can do similar work in both subjects, only in different languages? 

To sum it up, I would be very thankful if you can answer as many above mentioned questions as possible + give me some general tips and insight on the subjects I'm taking (like how you find the subject etc). 






Edited by goingtoib

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there!

I took English Lang & Lit HL, Maths SL and Biology (but at HL), so hopefully I'll be able to give something of help for a couple of your questions.

1. If you are fluent in writing and oral communication, I don't think it'd be much of an issue. There are two papers for this subject: Paper 1, where you will need to analyse by comparing and contrasting a pair of texts; and Paper 2, where you will need to answer a question pertaining to at least 2 literary texts, while relating your answers back to the context of production. (If this sounds daunting, don't worry, as your teacher will teach you the stuff before the exams). Essentially, I feel that the most important bit of this subject is to be able to analyse the texts to answer the questions- the same goes for all the FOAs, IOCs and Written Tasks.

Of course, you'll still need to have a good command of English (i.e. grammar), but if you're fluent in writing and oral communication then it should be fine- after all, you still have two years to brush up on such skills if need be. For the FOAs and IOCs, you'll need to be able to present orally, but if you're confident in that, then it should be fine :)

2. I didn't take Physics, so I'm not really sure about how rigorous the maths is in Physics. However, if I recall correctly, there was an IBS user here who did her examinations a few years ago, and she took Physics HL with Maths Studies.

3. Bio is a subject of mixed reactions (at least from my circle of friends). Those who love Biology would love the subject, and memorising all the content wouldn't feel as difficult. This is especially the case for a friend of mine who wants to pursue a medical career, and she loved the human physiology bit in Bio. On the other hand, those who didn't really enjoy Bio as much but took it only because Bio was stereotyped to be the "easiest" science between chem, bio and physics had a bit more trouble.

Bio is a subject of memorising- lots of it. If you're doing SL, then the content is significantly less than that of Bio HL; nevertheless, if you're not a fan of memorising, then I'll say be careful of Bio.


General overview from my personal experience:

I loved English Lang&Lit- I found the topics covered really interesting, especially when you learn about stereotypes, sex in advertising, use of power in language, the techniques companies use to advertise etc. The literature bit was okay, and I guess choosing a literary text you're interested in helps. Of course, I guess I enjoyed the subject as well because I had an amazing teacher who knew what he was doing, so he wasn't making us do unnecessary stuff.

Maths SL was fine for me; I was never extraordinarily good in Maths, so I decided against taking Maths HL despite taking Additional Mathematics in iGCSE (in my school, those who take Add maths usually take HL Maths). The content of Maths SL is similar to that of Add Maths in iGCSE, so if you took that exam, it might give you some indication of how Maths SL is like :) (Note: iGCSE under the CIE board, I heard the other examination boards are different in terms of difficulty).

However, always practice for maths! I made a mistake of being overconfident about maths since I took Add maths, so I assumed that it would be an easy 7, and I was so, so wrong. It's fine if you feel that you need to prioritise other subjects, but I think it's really important to practice maths- perhaps at least once a week, for at least an hour or two. I remember being in my final year of IB realising that getting a 7 was no easy feat, especially when the exam papers seemed to get harder from 2015 onwards.

Biology- As I said earlier, Bio has loads of stuff to memorise. It'd definitely help if you have interest in the topics, but if you don't, be prepared for lots of rote learning. (Note: Since I took Bio HL, I'm not entirely sure how much content is covered in Bio SL- as such, maybe there isn't that much of memorising involved, so don't get put off by what I'm saying! :) )

If you can, make notes at the end of every chapter for bio- there's so much content to cover, and the textbook sometimes has information all over the place. What I did was make notes after every chapter and used them for revision during my mocks/final exam, so I have most of the information contained within a stack of paper.

Sorry for the lengthy post, and hope I managed to help! If you need any other information regarding English Lang&Lit, Maths SL and Bio, just ask! :)

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since previous poster didn't take physics, I would like to say that (IB) physics has more algebraic manipulation than both biology and chemistry. You would be expected to solve algebraic equations and rearrange the variables rather efficiently. Solving systems of equations are common in physics. So you have to have necessary math skills, but you don't have to know much higher level math. 

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Being a native english speaker rarely correlates to strong english skills nowadays. Some people struggle in it like me, others like a lot of people I know find it easy.

2. No. A lot of my seniors taking Physics HL also took Maths SL. You have to have a strong conceptual understanding with a degree of problem-solving skills, but not so much that you need to be a Maths HL student to even do well in it.

3. Bio SL is really easy, don't know what else to add. The content at SL overall is pretty small.

4. Yes, it would be easier, no it wouldn't be too hard to juggle them both provided that you're decent at both languages. At the end of the day, it would only mean more workload, but there's a bilingual diploma in it once you've graduated.

Hope that helped. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.