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Taking University Subjects during IB

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I have to decide whether I should take an university subject during my second year of IB soon. Therefore, I'm wondering what everyone thinks about taking uni subjects during IB. Is it very difficult? Do you have enough time to get all your work done?

Thanks guys!

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what do you mean by Uni subjects? as in HL classes which will give you credits, or actually attend a Uni?

if the latter I'd be worried about being able to take them with no qualification for entry first...

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I think they mean the fact that IB, after pre-IB, is considered a university course for many students (or thats what they are informed).

Its plenty of homework, tests and never ever enough time for everything. You really have to prioritize your time and figure out where it is you really need to score well (best advice for US students). That is, I am going into pre-med. Instead of allocating my time to scoring as many points as possible to meet a benchmark (England students), my primary focus would be my 3 HL classes which I need in order to score high on MCAT and other things. History will be given the least amount of attention, as well as math and spanish. I am aiming ofr a 7 in bio + chem, or 5 on AP. There is not enough tiem in the day to do all those academic things you will want, and therefore you will have to sacrifice. Put a social life into the equation, and you have limited your productivity again.

Stay focused and make sure you really look at what it is you need to do, and need from IB. Sometimes, it doesnt mean a fully developed and high scoring Diploma - but a specialization.

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I don't know if this is what you mean but I did an Open University module (self-study sort of thing, part of a degree if I chose to continue with more modules) alongside my IB subjects, over a period of around 8 months or so. It was meant to take up 5 hours a week in studying, but I seemed to get by reading the book the night before the online tests came up!

It was really weird studying online, and I wouldn't do it again, but doing it did help me a lot with my applications to University. It was one of the things they asked me about in every interview, particularly as it was related to the degree I intended to apply for, and I think alongside some other stuff it did help my application stand out :P

Only do it if you can A) forsee it being useful and relevant to admissions and B) are confident you can handle the workload. I was lucky in that mine wasn't as all-consuming as the Open University advised me it would be, but nevertheless it did take me some time on nights when I was really tired and battling the evil IAs. Definitely if it intersects with any of your actual exams or intended revision period, it's not worth it. The diploma is more valuable! Only take it on if you can see actual gain coming from it and are sure you'll have the time (I could have just about managed 5 hours... with a moderate amount of mental suffering!! :blum:)

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In my state we have this program called "University Extension Study"; year 12s can choose to take a subject at universities. We can get credit from doing that and if we do well in it, we might be able to raise our ENTER score, which determines our entries into unis. Also, as I am applying to colleges in USA, taking an university subject might enhance my application.

I'm currently thinking of either taking chemistry, biology or Earth Sciences. Since I'll be doing HL Chemistry and HL Biology I figured it could be useful.

Biochem, wouldn't the colleges/universities you apply to consider your grades in other subjects though?

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I'm currently thinking of either taking chemistry, biology or Earth Sciences. Since I'll be doing HL Chemistry and HL Biology I figured it could be useful.

Okay it sounds like an identical sort of project to what I did at the Open Uni. My tips would be A) do something related to what you want to study at University, not something related to your IB subjects unless they happen to coincide and B) do something easy!!

Universities will think you're amazing for doing something extra virtually regardless of what it is. If you do Chemistry or a big heavy course, you'll seriously struggle with your actual IB diploma. Trust me :blum: Do something extra but not too much extra, and definitely not too intense.

The only thing which will be useful to help you with HL Chem and Bio is revision, time, practice and the IB syllabus only. Start confusing yourself by adding in extra topics, extra workload, new words and non-IB ways of phrasing things (not to mention seriously reducing the amount of time you have) and you are very likely to be damaging your IB subjects, not helping them. At the end of the day, the people who get 7s are the people who can jump through all the IB hoops, not the people who holistically know the most about Chem and Bio.

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If you are applying to US universities you need to just remember that we work on a whole different agenda for IB.

In the US, I will give you a perspective.

the Ivys as you have seen maybe some of the posts here suggest you have 7 in all your HLs, but that is not a requirement and if you are accepted they would not drop you as a student because you got a 6 in HL instead of 7. Even with a 5. IB will not admit you to these schools, other things will. So it is not even that important, because they wont review your scores in order to say anything on the grounds of you attending. IB exams will be used as Placement Only.

If you are applying to universities, it is understood you will get the Diploma. They dont care about the scores for the most part, as long as you are in the rigorous course. It is up to you to score high to get the higher level credits. They wont be impressed if you write something along the lines of I have a predicted score of 40. that means nothing to them. More so, a 40 on IB will transfer to maybe top in your class, so this is something they will actually look at.

I am applying to UF and several other universities, and they all have said points are not important, especially since predictions are always off from their experience. They have plenty of students who report a 42 and dont get their diploma, so its useless to say what you will score.

The schools were more happy with my choice to take the HL courses, along with physics as a elective. This impressed them, simply going through these courses.

IB is very sensitive topic in the US. We have a thing of our own. In fact a score of 6-7 is Not equivalent to a 5 on AP. So much that 5 on AP will let you skip 2 intro courses to something like biology, while a 6-7 is only for one of the classes.

My friends have recently found out, along with me, that the polices in the schools of our interest state that failure to get the IB Diploma simply results in gaining credit to classes where you have 5 or higher on your HL courses only. So that means you like failed everything else. And since then, my friends have literary said good-bye to other coursework and just went along to do things they need in college like HL math and physics, ignoring history and English. I have somewhat adopted that, not so much concerned with history. I do chemistry and biology in the back of the class. study for those tests only night before and squeeze by.

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Just to add my two cents, doing the uni class [following the guidelines that Sandwich mentioned] would help you stand out as a domestic and international applicant. I know exez took a few advanced math courses at a local university, and he said that helped him stand out in the MIT applicant pool for international students. Take advantage of the program. If there was a specific program at my school like that, and I didn't take it, then when my counselors filled out part of my college applications, they wouldn't say I've taken the most rigorous classes I can. So it depends on what you're wanting to do with your credits. If you can easily get into your dream university, then it's not worth it. If it can catapult you from "deferred" to "waitlisted" or "accepted" in the admissions process, I say it's worth it! =)

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Sandwich, I just checked out Open University. Unfortunately it doesn't offer the courses I want to take in Australia. =(

We don't really get to choose how intense we want the courses to be. I think they all have around three to four hours of class-time per week. I get your point about confusing terms... I get confused by my two textbooks because one is British and the other is American. Perhaps I'll take up earth science, because it interests me and doesn't intersect with my subjects too much.

Biochem, I noticed that colleges in the states look at your rank a lot, wouldn't it suffer if you ignore history and English because they still form a part of your grades?

This is a little out of topic, but I need to pick my HLs soon and I'm quite confused. I was browsing through IB survival and many people are saying that HL Bio is very difficult. Since HL maths is daunting as well, would HL Bio, HL Chem and HL History be a better combination than HL Bio, HL Chem and HL maths?

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Biochem, I noticed that colleges in the states look at your rank a lot, wouldn't it suffer if you ignore history and English because they still form a part of your grades?

I will still be with an A in the class, just probably not a an 7 on the exam. That is for sure, so I am still in high ranks regarding grades. But I wouldn't venture out and do a lot of self-study that's for sure. I am 99% for class, or top 3 student. Not sure which position yet. So all is good.

HL Math is for sure a big jump from the math level. History not so much, just an extra paper.

HL bio + chem are a lot of work. If you want to do somethnig with science, give them more attention than trying to do math. I find math HL should be for kids who want engineering, physics heavy and anything with heavy and obvious mathematics.

If you are doing pre-med track, then choose SL math and HL history. This will help you concentrate on the sciences.

it depends on what you need for career. History or math, which one is more important for your future career.?

Edited by biochem

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Sandwich, I just checked out Open University. Unfortunately it doesn't offer the courses I want to take in Australia. =(

We don't really get to choose how intense we want the courses to be. I think they all have around three to four hours of class-time per week. I get your point about confusing terms... I get confused by my two textbooks because one is British and the other is American. Perhaps I'll take up earth science, because it interests me and doesn't intersect with my subjects too much.

Biochem, I noticed that colleges in the states look at your rank a lot, wouldn't it suffer if you ignore history and English because they still form a part of your grades?

This is a little out of topic, but I need to pick my HLs soon and I'm quite confused. I was browsing through IB survival and many people are saying that HL Bio is very difficult. Since HL maths is daunting as well, would HL Bio, HL Chem and HL History be a better combination than HL Bio, HL Chem and HL maths?

I think Earth Sciences definitely sounds like the best option out of those - although if you're going to be interviewed for the subject you wish to take, they'll probably ask you to explain why you picked it, so I'd have some sort of response ready. Broadening your horizons? Further challenging yourself? That kind of thing :blum: May I ask what you intend to study at University?

Unless you want to do Maths, Computer Science, Engineering or Physics at uni you can more or less get away with SL maths for absolutely everything. HL Biology isn't actually very difficult, it's just very BIG! There's a lot of stuff to memorise, but at the end of the day, it's just churning it back out, unlike HL Chem which requires a lot more thinking and a deeper understanding to use concepts practically. Unless you really struggle with content-heavy subjects, Biology is the easiest of the three sciences (in my opinion), because once you know the content, you basically have your 6/7 already. There's no real "luck of the draw" involved, and you can generally march into the exam confident that the outcome will match the effort you put into your revision.

In my opinion, I agree with Biochem, the option with History would be a much better combination, unless you're very secure in your Mathematics and wobbly on essays! :P

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Biochem, I'm really amazed at the fact that you managed to be ranked top three even though you are ignoring almost half of your subjects!

The thing is, I'm already doing HL Maths so I kind of have an idea of what it is like. (In my school we have to pick HL or SL maths before IB1, but we are allowed to drop down to SL during IB2 if we want to)I'm getting around a 5 or a 6 this year in HL Maths, but much of the marks I lose during tests and exams were due to careless errors. I have heard from a friend who recently dropped down to SL that SL was very easy compared to HL.

To be honest, I think both HL maths and HL history are irrelevant to the career I have in mind. Although I haven't exactly decided the specific majors yet, the ones I currently have in mind are: Anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, paleontology and perhaps chemistry.

The reason I'm a little hesitant from picking HL History is I'm not too sure about the amount of extra effort I need to put in to memorize the materials in Paper 3. I'm not exactly a fan of memorizing dates and quotes. I'm getting around a 6 or a 7 this year in SL history, but sometimes I think my teacher is marking too soft and on top of that, most of the assessments we've had were open book.

I'm not very secure in maths and I'm quite wobbly on essays :( By the way, personally I find chemistry easier and requires less effort compared to biology because not as much memorizing are involved. =)

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To be honest, I think both HL maths and HL history are irrelevant to the career I have in mind. Although I haven't exactly decided the specific majors yet, the ones I currently have in mind are: Anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, paleontology and perhaps chemistry.

The majors that you have picked out, are increasingly going into mathematics. While you may not be doing a direct calculus course with them in your Major department, you might be asked to consider statistics. So in this case, between history and Math, I say go for math. Genetics, neuroscience and chemistry are of course ever complex in mathematics, and the rest will and are using logarithms to analyze data. So keep up with HL math cause it will prove important in your career.

And even class ranking does nothing for me. I have a university in mind now, but I dont have the extraordinary extracurriculars to apply :(

Will give Yale a shot, but I doubt it. Though my parents make less than 60 grand a year, so it would be free!

You have a very competitive lineup for international student! just keep up your awesome work, and always have extracurriculars. Impressive ones!

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Actually Biochem, I'm not technically an international student. I'm an U.S citizen who've never been to America =) That should make the application process a little easier.

I found out not long ago that my history teacher has been pressuring us into choosing HL history by teaching us HL topics during IB1; I will feel like I've wasted a whole year if I don't choose HL history now. I'll be seeing the school career counsellor later this week so I guess I'll make up my mind after that.

Thank you for your help and good luck for Yale!

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