Choosing your subject combination for the IB has far-reaching consequences for your path to university and beyond. When universities around the world assess applicants, the admissions committees review the grades achieved for the individual Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) subjects, as well as the suitability of the subject combination for the course being applied to.
Before diving into advice on IB subject choices, this is a quick breakdown of the requirements for earning an IB Diploma Programme.
Students must choose one subject from each of the five groups (1-5) below:
Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
· Language A: literature
· Language A: language and literature
· Literature and performance (also Group 6)
Group 2: Language acquisition
· Language B
· Language ab initio
· Classical languages
Group 3: Individuals and societies
· Business and management
· Information technology in a global society
· Social and cultural anthropology
· World religions (SL only)
· Environmental systems and societies (also Group 4)
Group 4: Sciences
· Design & Technology
· Environmental systems and societies (also Group 3)
· Computer science
· Sports, exercise, and health science (SL only)
Group 5: Mathematics
· Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches
· Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation
Group 6: The Arts
· Visual arts
· Literature and performance (also Group 1)
If students do not want to take an arts subject from Group 6, then they must choose a second subject from Groups 1 to 5.
Out of a total of six subjects, students must take three subjects at Higher Level (HL), while the rest should be taken at Standard Level (SL).
On top of the six subjects, students must complete three mandatory, core elements, which cannot be chosen:
· The extended essay
· Theory of knowledge
· Creativity, activity, service (CAS)
For students who have already chosen their university course, it is important to check the subject requirements for their chosen field. Each subject or department will publish minimum entry requirements and ideal subject combinations on the university website or undergraduate prospectus.
For those who are planning to study medicine at university, the minimum requirement is Higher Level Chemistry and at least one Higher Level subject from Biology, Mathematics, and Physics.
If you are thinking of pursuing engineering at university, then you should take Mathematics and Physics at Higher Level.
If you are planning to take physical sciences at university, then it is often mandatory to take Higher Level Mathematics and Physics, while Chemistry is also highly recommended.
If you are considering the arts and social sciences at university, then the route through Higher Level options is less rigid than the sciences and maths courses. Choosing one or more of these few subjects to study at Higher Level will help with your academic pursuit in this field:
· Language A Literature
· A Language B option
Those who are planning to study economics at university should take Higher Level Mathematics and clearly, Economics will also be desirable.
Always keep in mind what your long-term academic plans and goals are. You should know why you want to take a subject. Besides being interesting or fun, you should ensure that the choice of a particular subject will add value to your goal of studying at university. If you are not sure what you want to study yet, consider whether your subject choices show a balance that reflects your abilities, strengths, and interests.
If you would like more information, please contact Genius Development. We are the largest and most systematic STEM educational institution in Asia with the most comprehensive STEAM learning system for children and teenagers, and a world-class curriculum in science, computing, finance, mathematics, languages, and music. In addition, we offer education consultancy and planning services to those who aspire to study in prestigious American high schools and Ivy League schools, with the professional expertise to ensure that they successfully gain entry to these institutions.