New IB Mathematics Revisions

Article by: Joaquin P.

Edited by: Joaquin M.

Visual by: Manapo I. and Gabby F.

It is that time of the year again. This month, students from all over High School will choose their courses for the next school year. This course selection period is of special importance to the sophomores, as they will choose their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma courses which will last for the next two years of the program and impact their university applications. However, significant revisions to the IB Math courses, which is a required subject for the full IB Diploma, make sophomores more unsure about some of the implications of their course selection.

The old system of IB Math course offerings, ranked from what was perceived to be the most difficult to least, consist of Mathematics Higher Level (HL), Mathematics Standard Level (SL), and Mathematical Studies Standard Level. However, universities did not recognize the Mathematical Studies subject as it was seen as less challenging than other IB courses. In order to address this issue, the IB has done away with the old system and replaced the Mathematical Studies subject with two new subjects that meet the difficulty requirement of universities: Analysis and Applications. These two subjects are offered at both Higher and Standard Level. While the two courses focus on different aspects of mathematics, they are considered to be equally rigorous.

According to the IB, the Analysis course is “meant for students who enjoy the thrill of mathematical problem solving and generalization. This subject is aimed at students who will go on to study subjects with substantial mathematics content such as mathematics itself, engineering, physical sciences, or economics for example.” It is heavier on calculus and geometry and emphasizes more abstract aspects of mathematics. On the other hand, Applications is meant for “those who enjoy mathematics best when seen in a practical context. This subject is aimed at students who will go on to study subjects such as social sciences, natural sciences, statistics, business, some economics, psychology, and design.” The Applications course has an emphasis on statistics and functions and the use of technology such as graphing calculators to solve problems.

Some students have concerns with the perception of these courses by universities. A few sophomores are worried that one course may not be considered as “rigorous” or recognized as the other, similar to the older system. However, the integration of a “common mathematical core” into the curriculums of both subjects and the shared Internal Assessment have reduced the disparity between the courses and made them equal in rigor– one of the IB’s major intentions with this course change.

Sophomore Jaewon C., a mathematical enthusiast with plans to take the Analysis HL course, found the changes “interesting,” saying “it allows students to have more freedom on the kind of math they want to take since the math previously was just one option where you couldn’t deviate from the curriculum.” Best of luck to all Sophomores faced with this crossroads in their mathematical journey!