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SL Chemistry vs SL Biology

  

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  1. 1. SL Chemistry or SL Biology, which is easier?



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I'm asking this question purely because I want to know which one is easier, objectively. I know that in general, if you like a subject, you will be better in it, and you should always choose the one that you enjoy more. However, in my case, I am fairly neutral towards both. While chemistry seems a bit more interesting, that only because the BOOM! and flashy-flashiness of the experiments is fun. ;)

The rest of my courses are already pretty heavy (HL Math, HL History, HL English, HL French, and SL Economics) and I have no intention of going into medicine.

So, IB Survivors! (or IB strugglers)

SL Chem vs SL Bio

Which one is easier, in your opinion? Feel free to share personal anecdotes. ;) Thanks!

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If you are doing HL math you might find Chem really easy. Math students really excel in it.

biology will be memo only really, and it will just that controlled doses of learning it.

As for labs, you will have none of the Boom ones really.

Unless you have a teacher who is willing to light chemicals on fire behind a glass protective shield (my fun time ;) )

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Thanks, that helps me a bit.

One more question -

Is there any reason why Math students tend to excel at Chem? I've always been slightly confused in Chem class, albeit fascinated. There seems to be an equal mix of logic and things that make absolutely no sense and just need to be memorized. ;)

In terms of the actual exams, is either one more difficult than the other? Since HL Chem is supposedly much more difficult than HL Bio, I was wondering if that carried over to the SL courses too?

(..okay maybe that was more than one question. haha, sorry, I tend to get carried away.)

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Both are pretty much easy. I took HL Chemistry and remember that all the more difficult topics were HL only...so SL chemistry is pretty watered down. So I would choose SL chemistry. Why not take a look at some of the past exams if you do have access to some and see which you find easier?

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Well, Chem HL and SL has bits and pieces of calculations, so if you're taking Math HL, you might prefer 'winging' this versus memorizing for Bio. I don't think Bio SL is hard though... some stuff you can make up (data response) and they give you marks. Of course, it's hit and miss so you might lose marks too. I dunno; given your course load, more memorization is probably not a good idea. ;)

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Hehe if you're neutral, then see who is teaching each class. Talk to people taking that teacher's class or students who've already graduated for advice. Bad teachers can make a good class terrible.

Thanks, that helps me a bit.

One more question -

Is there any reason why Math students tend to excel at Chem? I've always been slightly confused in Chem class, albeit fascinated. There seems to be an equal mix of logic and things that make absolutely no sense and just need to be memorized. ;)

In terms of the actual exams, is either one more difficult than the other? Since HL Chem is supposedly much more difficult than HL Bio, I was wondering if that carried over to the SL courses too?

(..okay maybe that was more than one question. haha, sorry, I tend to get carried away.)

I guess students who do well in math can go into bio and chem and do just fine. A good foundation in math actually helps out in bio too--just to a lesser degree [with pH and just conversion stuff and grasping certain concepts]. For chem, yeah you need to be able to do the math, but if you don't understand the concepts behind them, it doesn't do much good. Like the Henderson-Hasselbach equation. Just being able to plug into it won't help when you need to discriminate in when to use it.

Like Irene said, I think you'll be better off in chemistry because biology would require extensive knowledge. If you've never taken a bio course, chem is probably more your style ;) Just don't forget to find out how good a teacher you'll have.

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Yeah most of the Math Students have a good analytical process of thinking and logic is their friend.

Like Irene said, the chem stuff will have you possibly breezing through the stuff.

It's really about knowing the topics but application is the key. And the application part is math.

Organic chemistry doesn't go into depth, just make sure you do not breeze through this. do not. study it hard, because it can be hard if you dont prepare for it. especially the ending of chapters for most books. They rush through properties of different functional groups, and the naming system is really difficult if you have it all in one class time hit you. So stuff that doesnt have math, make sure you look with 2 eyes, not just one as in calculations ;) ( the other one can sleep ;) )

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All our HL maths people did worse than the SL maths people at Chemistry, SL and HL ;) Although I'm sure that's bizarre freak accident or something, as it makes sense for the mathematically gifted to be better at Chemistry.

In my opinion, there is virtually no debate. Biology is easier than Chemistry at SL. Frankly, they probably have roughly the same level of memorisation because the SL Bio syllabus isn't actually that long (Bio possibly slightly more, but not actually all that much) and Biology is both common-sense and literally just reeling stuff off. Chemistry asks you questions in challenging and difficult ways, Biology is much more like a set response. The amswers to the questions are staring you in the face, more or less, provided you read the textbook, there's no real section of creative thinking or problem solving. If you're fine at some point to put in half a week or so of memorising the syllabus, it's actually very straight forward, in my opinion. Biology wins ;) Then again I'm not very mathematical either, so perhaps I'm not the least biased judge.

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i agree with the post above

i do hl bio and chem. i think that if you have a grounding in chemistry already (pre-IB perhaps), either should be okay. I find there are a lot chemistry concepts applicable in the biology sl course (not just the biochemistry chapter)- but it can help you understand concepts such as diffusion/osmosis (concentration gradient, solute, solvent)

I think a raw student would find biology a subject where he/she just needs to memorise facts and explanations. But still, I would advise a "raw" science student to do biology; chemistry is more conceptual [perhaps harder for the majority of people, but there are exceptions out there], and i believe there's less content in the SL biology course (and it can be learnt quicker than SL chemistry)

If anyone else reading this: if you have a solid understand of chemistry (not necessarily HL), i would recommend you do HL biology as well if you can. Sure, HL biology is a lot of work, but which HL isn't? But I'd admit, the difference between SL and HL for biology is greater than some other subjects. I found with my knowledge of chemistry, I easily grasped HL concepts: redox, cell respiration, photosynthesis, nerve impulses, functioning of the kidney (especially loop of Henle)

the only benefits i can think of at the moment for chemistry with a biology background would be: the biochemistry option, a bit of organic chemistry, medicines and drugs option

if you absolute hate/struggle with maths - rearranging equations, converting units - you'll probably have some difficulty with chemistry. Chemistry involves some sort of number crunching. I would say 25% of Paper 1 multi choice questions. Around 40-60% when it comes to Paper 2.

Edited by Henza
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In Chemistry SL only 2 or 3 units have any true math involved - so a better way to describe Chemistry SL is concept-based rather than math-heavy. Once you grasp a concept you're pretty much set for the uni, so this would require a lot less memorization than in Biology SL. Chemistry questions are pretty straightforward and are not anymore "challenging" than Biology SL. Biology SL (like physics SL) always begins with a data response question which is more like applying your knowledge, so it can be a bit tricky (but I think chemistry is trying to slowly include these types of questions). Questions in Section B of biology paper 2 can be worth up to 8 marks - which obviously require a lot of 'spilling out' of information, but Chemistry SL rarely has these types of questions.

This is just my opinion to sortof balance out the viewpoint on Biology provided in the above posts.

At the end of the day it really comes down to:

- Are you better with memorization or grasping concepts (which sometimes include mathematics)?

- Compare the syllabi for both courses and see which you are more comfortable with.

- Check past papers if you have access or can purchase them.

- If possible also talk to upper years to see which course has a better teacher and a higher sucess rate in the past years in your school (coordinators can help with this).

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Well, in my class most people choosing Biology SL do it just because they don't want to have ESS and have no real interest in the sciences. SL chemistry is easy, and it makes more sense than biology, I would argue. It's not as many things to memorize, mostly rules and laws.

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I find SL Chemistry extremely easy, and I really enjoy it. Everyone who does bio complains about is being hard, and it just seems boring to me. At first I didn't get chemistry, but now it's just very simple to me. If you can understand quantitative chemistry really well, then it makes the rest of the course a lot easier IMO. Also, take a look at the syllabus; you need to know hardly anything. e.g in Acids and Bases you only need the most basic formula of calculating pH, you don't need to know Kw or poH or anything like that.

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I took SL bio and HL chem and the bio was farrrrrr easier, even if the chem was at SL.

I'm naturally good at memorizing though and bio is just pure memorization from the syllabus so I found it super easy. But if you're bad at memorization and are more of a logical/rational person then you may be better off with chem SL.

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