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What is so different about the Ib math curriculum and how does it compare to ap and A levels?

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Multiple Pathways available

The IB Math curriculum is different in that it offers two different main paths for students to choose from.

There are two main courses Analysis and Approaches (AA) and Applications and Interpretations (AI), which they are further divided into Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL).

A simple guideline between AA and AI is like studying Pure Math and Applied Math though they do have a fair share of overlapping content.

Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (HL/SL) - This course is designed for students who enjoy solving mathematical problems and have a strong foundation in algebra, geometry, and calculus. It emphasizes mathematical reasoning, problem-solving, and the use of technology to investigate and model mathematical phenomena.

Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation (HL/SL) - This course is designed for students who want to use mathematics to solve real-world problems. It covers topics such as statistics, probability, financial mathematics, and modeling, and emphasizes the use of technology and the interpretation of mathematical results.

However, it is important for students to first check on potential universities’ entry requirements first before deciding on subject selection!


The IB is also unique in the sense that it has an Internal Assessment (IA) component comprising 20% of a student’s grade (regardless of AA/AI HL/SL). It is essentially a report (max 20 pages) using/exploring the usage of Math to solve a real-world problem or understand the presence of Math in our real world.

The content undertaken by the student should be ideally a natural expansion of the syllabus scope so there will be some reading and research element on the students’ part. The IA component is extremely important as it gives the students (who do well) a huge psychological advantage before the papers.

For tips on tackling the Math IA, you refer to my previous blog posts here:


Examination-wise, the HL students will have to sit for paper 3 (2 questions, 1 hour). The questions are like an expanded version of a section B question and the parts build upon each other in helping the students generalize or prove a Mathematical result. Such a paper is not present in the AP or A levels Math exams.

Seniors will tell you that it is quite challenging and stressful as it’s difficult to get the engine going if you do not catch the drift of the question.

We will be producing a book of practice questions for paper 3, so stay tuned on our google ebook store!

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions!

HP: (65) 9723 4217

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