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A Guide to selecting Subjects in IB Diploma Programme

In IB Diploma Programme (IBDP), students develop their ability to think internationally and prepare for university life. It is a pre-university programme undertaken by International Baccalaureate Organization. IBDP engages students to become knowledgeable, to think critically, to embrace inquiry, and to develop open-mindedness, empathy, and cultural appreciation, while being rigorous and academically challenging.

There are six broad categories of subjects in IBDP. These include: Language and Literature; Language Acquisition; Individuals and Societies; Sciences; Mathematics; and the Arts. There are two levels within each category: Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). By participating in SL courses, students are exposed to a variety of disciplines and are able to make connections between them. Courses at HL give students the opportunity to explore their interests in depth. The SL subjects are taught for 150 hours and the HL subjects for 240 hours.

By choosing the right combination of subjects, students can maximize their strengths and prepare for future study goals and ultimately a successful career.

Selection of appropriate subjects in the IB Diploma Programme

Choosing interesting and doable subjects is recommended - you must be prepared to study the respective subjects in depth, which will require a lot of dedication and time over the two-year programme. The students must examine and comprehend what each subject has to offer, as well as what they have to study under each subject. For more information about the subject, they can consult the IB subject guide. Developing a keen interest in the subjects chosen by a student is crucial.

During IBDP's two years, learners acquire knowledge and apply it in internal and external assessments of each subject. It is possible for students to achieve this when they are passionate about the subject they are studying.

The university requirements must be reviewed by students. They must choose their HL and SL subjects based on which career option they wish to pursue. Different universities will have specific requirements regarding subject levels and subject combinations which are available on their websites.

IBDP Subjects

Schools and universities offer a variety of IBDP subjects based on students' needs and academic goals. Students select one subject from five groups. Students will select three SL and three HL subjects in IBDP. Additionally, every student takes three core components of the IBDP: Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay, and CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service).

Group 1
Language and Literature

  • English Language and Literature HL/SL
Group 2
Language Acquisition

  • Hindi (SL/HL)
  • Spanish ab initio
  • French ab initio
Group 3
Individuals and Societies

  • Business Management (SL/HL)
  • Economics (SL/HL)
  • Psychology (SL/HL)
  • Environmental System and Societies (SL)
Group 4

  • Computer Science (SL/HL)
  • Environmental System and Societies (SL)
  • Physics (SL/HL)
  • Chemistry (SL/HL)
  • Biology (SL/HL)
Group 5

  • Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (SL/HL)
  • Mathematics Application and Interpretation (SL/HL)

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  • Extended Essay (EE)
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

Core Components

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  • Extended Essay
  • Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)

Selection of the appropriate IB Diploma Programme subjects

There is a difference between Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) of the exams. HL exams in general are more rigorous while SL exams are less rigorous. The content is same, but the expectation of a student is higher. A Higher Level exam refers to an examination at a higher level of difficulty than a Standard Level exam. Be careful in choosing your Higher Level and Standard Level subjects.

Deciding Factors:

Strong and weak subjects:

The subjects which you are strong at and those you are relatively weak at will affect not only how much time you take to study, but also the material you cover, and possibly even your final IB score.

Workload of HL and SL subjects:

The workload of HL and SL subjects varies. HL subjects cover more material than SL subjects; so you will be spending more time studying these. Your study schedule will not only dictate how much you study, but also what material you cover, and even how much time you spend studying HL subjects as opposed to their SL counterparts.

University requirements:

The subject requirements for all courses at many universities can be very specific, asking for a particular set of Higher Levels, as well as specific grades within each one, or specific grades across your HL selection. There are many different subjects that particular universities require for each of their courses. Be sure to check your course requirements beforehand.

Weight of IB scores:

In many universities, it is more important to achieve exceptional results in your high-level courses than achieving the highest possible overall grade point average. Check if the university you want to enroll in, gives greater importance to performing exceptionally well in your HLs than to achieving the highest score.

Overall, IBDP helps students build their critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills through academic projects, group projects, and other social activities.

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