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The International Baccalaureate had announced a huge change in their Mathematics syllabus for the Diploma Program. This was one of those times when IB assesses and evaluates their subjects to see if it needs to undergo any changes to optimize learning. It happens once every 7 years.
The group 5 subject, Mathematics, is a demanding subject for all the IB students because it aids in many different career paths and disciplines. To ensure quality learning, IB reformed their syllabus from Math Higher Level (HL), Math Standard Level (SL) and Math Studies to Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (AA) and Mathematics Applications and Interpretations (AI).
Mathematics Analysis and Approaches
This module focuses on the theoretical side of mathematics. The syllabus helps students analyze abstract math without having to apply them in real world life. As mentioned before, it concerns mathematical theories like advanced calculus and integration, idea of proof, mathematical theorems and arguments. This could be called the “Pure” form of mathematics.
Students are generally encouraged to choose this module if their interest lies beyond just using mathematics in practice. It is a keen way for them to hone and push their understanding of math. Math AA has both Higher Level and Standard Level (HL and SL).
Also Read: Demystifying Log Rules: Mastering Exponential Mathematics
Mathematics Applications and Interpretations
Do you ever sit in a class and wonder if you would use any of the complicated formulas you see in front of you in real life? Sitting in a Math AI class, you would learn how to apply the mathematical concepts and solve practical problems in any possible field be it science, finance, etc. Math AI is for students who wish to apply the math they learn in the world around them.
Like Math AA, AI too has two levels, HL and SL. In comparison to the previous Math curriculum, Math AI SL can be compared to IB Math Studies. Albeit, Math AI HL has a new syllabus with some additional topics making it unlike any other courses that were offered.
The difficulty of the math disciplines are as follows:
 Math AA HL – If you adore math and math is going to be a significant college subject, this is your choice.
 Math AA SL – Choose this if your university degree does not demand mathematics but you love math and you are interested in getting to know the why and how.
 Math AI HL – If you solely care about the implementation of math then pick this.
 Math AI SL – If you think you are not great at math and it will not be useful for your university degree, go ahead and pick this!
Syllabus:
Before we delve into the syllabus, let us brush through the teaching hours for each of the disciplines. Math AA and AI SL has 150 hours and Math AA and AI HL has an additional 90 hours thereby totalling 240 hours of class hours. One point to note is that both levels in Math AA and AI cover the following topics:
 Number and Algebra
 Functions
 Geometry and Trigonometry
 Probability and Statistics
 Calculus
The only difference is that the depth covered in each of these areas vary according to the module and the level. Accordingly, the difficulty level also differs.
 Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. – Albert Einstein
Assessment:
Paper  Analysis and Approaches  Applications and Interpretations  
HL  SL  HL  SL  
1  Duration: 120 minutes
Total Marks: 110 marks Weightage: 30% Calculator: Not allowed 
Duration: 90 minutes
Total Marks: 80 marks Weightage: 40% Calculator: Not allowed 
Duration: 120 minutes
Total Marks: 110 marks Weightage: 30% Calculator: Allowed 
Duration: 90 minutes
Total Marks: 80 marks Weightage: 40% Calculator: Allowed 
2  Duration: 120 minutes
Total Marks: 110 marks Weightage: 30% Calculator: Allowed 
Duration: 90 minutes
Total Marks: 80 marks Weightage: 40% Calculator: Allowed 
Duration: 120 minutes
Total Marks: 110 marks Weightage: 30% Calculator: Allowed 
Duration: 90 minutes
Total Marks: 80 marks Weightage: 40% Calculator: Allowed 
3  Duration: 60 minutes
Total Marks: 5 marks Weightage: 20% Calculator: Allowed 2 long questions 
Duration: 60 minutes
Total Marks: 5 marks Weightage: 20% Calculator: Allowed 2 long questions 
How do you choose what’s right for you?
 See if you are interested in the subject. Your level of love for the subject can decide which of the modules is right for you. In addition, judge your abilities to see if you are strong enough at math to pick up a module like AA HL.
 Another angle to help you pick would be your other DP subject choices. See if the math discipline that you have chosen compliments the rest of your subjects.
 Lastly, you can choose depending on what you want to pursue in university.
What university options do I have with Math AA?
 If you wish to pursue any career in the STEM field, either Math AA HL or Math AI HL would be an apt choice.
 If you’re interested in pure math and if you want to pursue a degree or a doctorate in Mathematics, Math AA HL would be beneficial to you. You can also take up Math AA HL if you’re seeking a degree in Engineering.
 Some other courses that require Math AA HL in some universities are:
 Physical Sciences
 Science programs
 Economics
 Human kinetics
 Kinesiology
 Engineering disciplines
 Computer science
 Any course with mathematics
What university options do I have with Math AI?
 Law
 History
 Design
 Business
 Medicine
 Psychology
 Some Economics
 Social Sciences
 Biology and Chemistry
Now that you have the Math sorted out, you should find it easier to know what you want to choose to study! For a final breakdown, we’ve briefly tabulated the differences between Math AA and AI for you:
AA  AI 


Also Read: Putnam Exam: A Prestigious Mathematics Competition
All the best!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: What is the difference between IB Math AA and AI?
A: IB Math AA is a traditional math course that covers topics such as calculus, statistics, and algebra indepth. IB Math AI, on the other hand, is a course that focuses on applying math concepts to realworld problems, with a particular emphasis on statistics and data analysis.
Q2: Which IB math course should I take?
A: The choice of IB math course will depend on your interests, strengths, and future goals. If you plan to pursue a degree in a mathrelated field, such as engineering or physics, then IB Math AA may be a better choice. If you are interested in social sciences or business, then IB Math AI may be more relevant.
Q3: Is IB Math AA more difficult than AI?
A: IB Math AA is generally considered to be more difficult than AI, as it covers a broader range of topics and requires a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. However, this may vary depending on the individual student’s strengths and interests.
Q4: Which IB math course is more popular?
A: The popularity of IB Math AA and AI varies depending on the school and region. In some countries, such as the United States, IB Math AA is more popular, while in others, such as the United Kingdom, IB Math AI is more commonly taken.
Q5: Will my choice of IB math course affect my college admissions?
A: Your choice of IB math course is one factor that college admissions officers may consider when evaluating your application. However, it is just one of many factors, and what is most important is that you take challenging courses that are appropriate for your interests and abilities.