The New IB Mathematics Curriculum

The previous syllabus structure consisting of generalised mathematics (SL or HL) and math studies (SL only) will be replaced by: Analysis and Approaches, and Applications and Interpretation. Both of these will be available at SL or HL and, in line with other Diploma Programme subjects, the SL content will be a subset of the HL content for that course. 

The new curriculum attempts to group students so that each group engages with mathematics in the manner best suited to them. For example, for students enthused by theoretical mathematics, the approach will be inquiry-based and focused on concepts rather than rules; whereas for students who are more interested in using mathematics in its applied form, the focus will be on practical problem-solving and mathematical modelling.   

Broadly speaking, the new Analysis and Approaches stream is considered more 'pure' and contains an updated version of the previous algebraic, graphical and numerical approaches. This course has been described by the IB as a suitable option for students who 'enjoy developing their mathematics to become fluent in the construction of mathematical arguments and develop strong skills in mathematical thinking'. This course is intended for students who wish to study mathematics at college, or subjects with substantial mathematics content such as engineering, economics and physical sciences.

In comparison, the Applications and Interpretation approach emphasises the applied nature of mathematics to describe the world and solve practical problems. In this course, much of the material is  relatively new and students will explore mathematical models and interpret results in context. This option is ideal, at SL or HL, for students interested in studying social sciences, natural sciences and medicine among others at college. 

For students who would previously have taken Math Studies, Ibrahim Wazir, a former Math IB Chief Examiner and member of the Curriculum Committee, recommends taking the Applications and Interpretation SL course.

The main difference in the Internal Assessment (IA) of the maths course is that the previous Project is changing to Exploration where students will spend 30 hours developing investigational, problem-solving, collaboration and modelling skills. In the external assessment, SL and HL students will take two written exam papers consisting of short and long answers. HL students will take an extra Paper 3, which will be a 1-hour problem-solving paper, possibly requiring the use of spreadsheets and graphing software.

It will take 1-2 assessment cycles (the first assessment under the new syllabus will take place in May 2021) before we can understand how this new approach translates into performance at college. 
If you would like assistance with board and subject selection, or have any specific questions, then get in touch with us.