A Comprehensive Guide to IBDP Mathematics: What You Need to Know


The IB (International Baccalaureate) offers a continuum of international education through four challenging, high-quality, demanding, rigorous education programs to students aged 3 to 19 years

IB DP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program) is one of the four IB (International Baccalaureate) programs for students in the age group 16 -19 years and was first offered in 1968.

The IB curriculum does not have any formal examinations. Certificates are issued to students who fulfill their standards at different levels. Also, there are no prescribed textbooks nor is there a curriculum. Hence present is the flexibility for the teachers to personalize it and make the teachings for each concept as per the requirements of the students. The advantage lies in increasing creativity and imaginative skills to maximize the learning outcomes. After completing the diploma programs, the students can look forward to getting admission to universities and completing their graduation.

The IB DP course is a rigorous pre-university course of study designed for students in the 16-19 age range. It is a broad-based two-year course that not only enhances the student’s knowledge and inquiry skills but also makes them caring and compassionate. The course is packaged as six academic areas including a central core. Students study two languages, humanities, or a social science subject, an experimental science, mathematics, and one of the creative arts. Further, instead of an arts subject, students can opt for two subjects in another area. Because of this comprehensive range of subjects, the DP is considered to be a demanding course of study curated to prepare students effectively for university entrance.

For each possible subject a student can take, there are two versions available – Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL). The difference between the two versions ultimately boils down to the difficulty levels. But that does not mean that the HL version is very intimidating and unapproachable. It’s just that the HL versions delve deeper than the SL versions, providing more realistic applications of what is learned. In simple terms, SL versions cover the ‘what’ of the subject and the HL versions cover the ‘how and ‘why’ of the subject.

In addition, for the six subject areas, three mandatory core elements of the DP need to be successfully completed by the students – Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE), and Creative, Activity, Service (CAS).


Mathematics – One of the Academic Areas

Different students have different needs, aspirations, interests, and abilities. For this reason, there are two different DP subjects in the mathematics area.

  • Mathematics – Analysis and Approaches
  • Mathematics – Applications and Interpretations


Aims of the IBDP Mathematics Courses

The main objectives are to help the students:

  • Develop your interest in and enjoyment in maths.
  • Recognize the nature, ideas, and guiding principles of mathematics.
  • Express mathematics in a variety of situations with clarity, concision, and assurance.
  • Develop creative and logical thinking, patience, and perseverance in solving a problem
  • Appreciate how developments in technology and mathematics influence each other
  • Appreciate the contribution of mathematics to other disciplines
  • Develop the ability to reflect on their own work and on the others’ work
  • Independently and collaboratively extend their understating of mathematics

There has been a change from the earlier Mathematics syllabus. The previous course included three models and two levels based on the students’ skill levels.

Mathematics at Standard Level (Math SL)
Mathematics at High Level (Math HL)
Math Studies


Changes in the IB Mathematics Syllabus

Students have four options to pick from in the newly launched course—two from each of the previous courses, SL and HL. The students should think about a few factors before choosing one of these four options.

  1. Their abilities and the type of mathematics they are comfortable with
  2. Their own interest in mathematics and the areas that may be interesting for them
  3. Their choices in the Diploma program or Career-related program
  4. Whether they want to opt for a math-based stream later
  5. Their choice of career

The new IB board mathematics curriculum fully corresponds with the numerous combinations of the factors mentioned above and gives students the freedom to select what they want.

Applications and Interpretation (AI) Analysis and Approaches (AA)
Standard Level High-Level Standard Level High-Level
Like Old Math studies, Unlike Old Courses Like Old Math SL Like Old Math HL
Who should opt for this?
Mathematically weak students who do not desire to pursue a math-based field after high school Students who are strong in math and enjoy doing it but do not plan on a math-based stream after high school Students who have average arithmetic skills but do not want to pursue a math-based field after high school Students who are very strong in math and want to opt for the math-based course after high school

Simply said, the IB Mathematics– Applications and Interpretation course is for students who like developing their mathematical abilities via addressing real-world issues and when seen in the context of everyday life. It is built on a basis of distribution and statistics. The course’s students learn how to use complex formulae in real-world situations.

IB Mathematics-Analysis and Approaches syllabus are for students who would enjoy developing their mathematics to become an expert in mathematical arguments and become skillful in mathematical thinking while exploring practical and theoretical applications. So it develops analytic expertise and a deep understanding of mathematics in students.


Changes in the Assessments

There are two types of- Internal and External assessments.

External Assessments: IB board Mathematics AA and AI – SL and HL both have two final assessments in written format. Each of the courses have an additional, hour-long evaluation for the HL.

Internal Assessments: IB board Mathematics AA and AI- There is no change. The student is required to complete an independent project for this assessment, which is judged both internally by the faculty and externally by the IB board. This internal assessment contributes 20 percent to the overall marks.

To know the changes in the curriculum, please visit the IB question bank to assess the practice questions topic wise.


Curriculum Model

The distribution for the teaching hours for both the subjects – AA and AI.

The topics covered are

  • Number and Algebra
  • Functions
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Calculus


Assessment Objectives

The assessment objectives are the same for both the AA and AI subjects. The objectives aim at enhancing the students’ skills to

  • Recall, select and use their knowledge of mathematical facts, concepts and techniques and use them in a variety of familiar and non-familiar contexts.
  • Remember, choose, and apply their understanding of mathematical concepts, theories, and models in both hypothetical and practical situations.
  • Translate realistic contexts into mathematics, comment on the context, draw or sketch mathematical diagrams or graphs both on paper and using technology, record solutions, methods and conclusions using standardized notations.
  • Use technology correctly, properly, and effectively to investigate new concepts and resolve issues.
  • Construct mathematical arguments using precise statement, logical deduction, and inference and by manipulation of mathematical expressions.
  • Organize and analyze information, make conjectures, and draw conclusions to investigate situations both abstract and real world.


Assessment Paper Format

Both the subjects AA and AI have two assessments – internal and external

  • External assessment requires the students to take three papers.
  • Internal assessment requires the students to complete the return paper referred to as Mathematical Exploration which is externally moderated by the IB examiner.


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What is IBDP Mathematics?

IBDP Mathematics is a course offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. It is divided into four different levels, namely Mathematical Studies, Mathematics Standard Level (SL), Mathematics Higher Level (HL), and Further Mathematics HL. Each level builds on the previous one, with Further Mathematics HL being the most advanced.

What topics are covered in IBDP Mathematics?

The topics covered in IBDP Mathematics depend on the level of the course. In general, students will study topics such as algebra, calculus, geometry, and statistics. Further Mathematics HL covers more advanced topics such as complex numbers, matrices, and differential equations.

What are some tips for succeeding in IBDP Mathematics?

Some tips for succeeding in IBDP Mathematics include practicing regularly, seeking help when needed, staying organized and keeping up with assignments, and reviewing and understanding past mistakes. Additionally, it can be helpful to form study groups with classmates and to use resources such as textbooks, online tutorials, and past papers.

What are some careers that require knowledge of IBDP Mathematics?

Careers that require knowledge of IBDP Mathematics include engineering, finance, data analysis, computer science, and scientific research. Additionally, many other careers require some level of mathematical competency, so IBDP Mathematics can be beneficial for a wide range of fields.

How is IBDP Mathematics assessed?

IBDP Mathematics is assessed through a combination of internal and external assessments. Internal assessments are conducted by the student’s own teacher, while external assessments are conducted by IB examiners. The external assessments include written exams and may also include oral exams, depending on the level of the course.

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