Every seven years, the IBO modifies its subjects so as to make the content more relevant for its students. This has brought a drastic change in the maths curriculum with the introduction of Mathematics AA and Mathematics AI. In this article, we will look at the similarities and differences between the two, together with the topics they cover.

IB Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (AA) recognizes the need for analytical expertise in a world where innovation is increasingly dependent on a deep understanding of mathematics. The focus is on developing important mathematical concepts in a comprehensible, coherent and rigorous way, achieved by a carefully balanced approach. Students are encouraged to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve abstract problems as well as those set in a variety of meaningful contexts.

Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches has a strong emphasis on the ability to construct, communicate and justify correct mathematical arguments. Students should expect to develop insight into mathematical form and structure and should be intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between concepts in different topic areas.

Students are also encouraged to develop the skills needed to continue their mathematical growth in other learning environments. The internally assessed exploration allows students to develop independence in mathematical learning. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to take a considered approach to various mathematical activities and to explore different mathematical ideas.

Here is a breakdown of the recommended teaching hours for Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches.

IB Math: Analysis and Approaches

IB Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation recognizes the increasing role that mathematics and technology play in a diverse range of fields in a data-rich world. It emphasizes the meaning of mathematics in context by focusing on topics that are often used as applications or in mathematical modeling.

To give this understanding a firm base, this course includes topics that are traditionally part of a pre-university mathematics course such as calculus and statistics. Students are encouraged to solve real-world problems, construct and communicate this mathematically and interpret the conclusions or generalizations. Students should expect to develop strong technical skills and will be intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between theoretical and practical concepts in mathematics. All external assessments involve the use of technology.

Students are also encouraged to develop the skills needed to continue their mathematical growth in other learning environments. The internally assessed exploration allows students to develop independence in mathematical learning. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to take a considered approach to various mathematical activities and explore different mathematical ideas.

Here is a breakdown of the recommended teaching hours for Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.

IB Math: Applications and Interpretation

At first glance, it may look like these two IB math courses cover the same content. Both courses teach numbers and algebra, functions, geometry, trigonometry, statistics and probability, and calculus, with the coverage overlapping for most of the topics. However, the courses take different approaches when teaching these math concepts.

IB Math: Analysis and Approaches will look at each topic in a much more theoretical way. In this course, students will learn the why and how of math, and they will also learn the proof behind different formulas and equations, which is ideal preparation for those who wish to pursue mathematics, physics, or engineering at university. In contrast, students in the IB Math: Applications and Interpretation course will dwell less on why certain math formulas work and will instead gain a comprehensive understanding of how these concepts can be applied to real-world problems in statistics, biology, economics, and other disciplines.

The courses also differ in the topics they emphasize. For example, students in the Applications and Interpretation course will use a substantial amount of class time to study statistics and data analysis. In contrast, those in Analysis and Approaches will spend less time on statistics and instead use that time to delve more deeply into calculus.

Once you have chosen which course to take, you must then decide whether to take it at the standard level (SL) or higher level (HL). The major difference between the two is that HL includes more topics and is generally more challenging. For both IB mathematics courses, SL requires about 150 teaching hours to cover all content whereas HL requires around 240 hours. Thus, HL has approximately 90 hours of additional content.

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