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A Complete Guide to IB Maths (HL & SL) in Singapore by Our Top IB Maths Tutors

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The Complete Guide to IB Maths (HL/SL) in Singapore

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) aims to provide students with the essential knowledge and real-world skills to prepare them for their further studies in university. As a course that encourages students to develop open-mindedness and intercultural understanding, the IB Curriculum involves the study of a wide range of subjects designed to holistically educate students. During the 2-year course, students are to study 6 subjects, one from each subject group, in addition to completing the central core elements that involve the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course and the Extended Essay (EE).

With such a rigorous course, you and your child may be rather overwhelmed. As such, our team at MindFlex has put together an Ultimate Guide to IB Maths, including some resources that will be helpful to your child as he/she goes through the IB Maths curriculum.

1. An Overview to IB Maths

IBDP students are expected to study one course from each subject group, Group 1 to Group 6. Under Group 5, there are 2 Mathematics subjects which are Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation (AI) and Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (AA), with AA being the more commonly-taken Maths subject. Doing well in IB Maths is imperative for your child to not only achieve good results in the IBDP Curriculum, but is also important for him/her to develop creative and logical thinking that is necessary to thrive in our data-rich world today.

Unlike the A Levels where students sit for one exam at the end of JC, the IBDP Curriculum involves multiple components where students are assessed throughout the curriculum via Internal and External Assessments. This means that IB Maths students have to be consistent in their learning and revision of the IB Maths syllabus throughout the duration of the curriculum. In addition, they have to pick up skills such as mathematical thinking and quantitative reasoning.

Developing such skills require immense critical thinking and are not easy to master. Here at MindFlex, we have a large pool of experienced IB Maths tutors ranging from part-time tutors to ex-MOE teachers to help your child in their IB Maths journey. Request for an IB Maths Tutor here!

2. Difference between SL (Standard Level) and HL (Higher Level) in IB Maths

Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches involves a heavy focus on constructing, communicating and justifying mathematical arguments that are logically sound. Before delving into the specifics of the IB Maths curriculum, it is important that we first understand the key differences between SL Maths and HL Maths.

Of course, the main difference between SL and HL Maths (AA) is the rigour and intensity of the course. SL Maths requires students to be comfortable manipulating algebraic expressions and recognising patterns. They are also required to demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical generalisation of patterns.

On the other hand, HL Maths is more demanding as it requires students to have a strong foundation in algebraic skills and manipulation, and have an understanding of simple proofs. On top of that, the Maths questions that they will face in examinations will be more challenging and require more higher-order thinking.

3. Objectives of IB Maths

The primary objective of the IB Maths course is to give students knowledge of Mathematical facts and concepts, and inculcate in twenty-first century problem-solving and reasoning skills.

The following Assessment Objectives are aimed towards encouraging students to hone these skills.

1. Knowledge and understanding
IB Maths Students are expected to demonstrate an ability to understand, recall and appropriately use Mathematical concepts and techniques in any context, be it familiar or unfamiliar.

2. Problem Solving
On top of knowing Mathematical facts, IB Maths students are also required to be able to select and apply their knowledge to solve various problems, in both real-world contexts as well as in abstract problems.

3. Communication and interpretation

IB Maths students are expected to translate real-world problems into Mathematics, and bring their mathematical knowledge into common real-world situations. In addition, they should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate technology and notations to be used in various different contexts.

4. Technology

IB Maths students should understand how to use technology appropriately to solve Mathematics problems and explore different ideas.

5. Reasoning

As IB Maths students, students should know how to create logically sound and precise Mathematical statements, inferences and deductions.

6. Inquiry Approaches

IB Maths students are expected to systematically and logically investigate various situations in both real-world and abstract concepts. This involves organising information and analysing it in a systematic manner, drawing logically sound conclusions and testing their validity. 

4. IB Maths Exam Format

The IB Maths (AA) assessment consists of both Internal Assessments and External Assessments. The Internal Assessment, making up 80% of the total grade, includes Paper 1 (Short-response questions), Paper 2 (Extended-response questions) and Paper 3 (Extended-response questions, for HL Maths students only). The External Assessment, which makes up 20% of the total grade, involves Mathematical Exploration. In terms of assessment components, the IB Maths assessment differs from SL to HL, as shown below.

IB Maths Infographic

Here’s a handy guide to the IB Maths SL and HL exam format!

4.1. Standard Level (SL)

External Assessment (3 hours, 80%)

Paper 1 (90 minutes):

No technology allowed. (80 marks, 40%)

Section A: 

Compulsory short-response questions based on the syllabus. 

Section B: 

Compulsory extended-response questions based on the syllabus.

Paper 2 (90 minutes): 

Technology required. (80 marks, 40%)

Section A: 

Compulsory short-response questions based on the syllabus. 

Section B: 

Compulsory extended-response questions based on the syllabus.

Internal Assessment (20%)

This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Mathematical Exploration

Students are to individually investigate an area of mathematics and write a piece on it. (20 marks)

4.2. Higher Level (HL)

External Assessment (5 hours, 80%)

Paper 1 (120 minutes):

No technology allowed. (110 marks, 30%)

Section A: 

Compulsory short-response questions based on the syllabus. 

Section B: 

Compulsory extended-response questions based on the syllabus.

Paper 2 (120 minutes): 

Technology required. (110 marks, 30%)

Section A: 

Compulsory short-response questions based on the syllabus. 

Section B: 

Compulsory extended-response questions based on the syllabus.

Paper 3 (60 minutes)

Technology required. (55 marks, 20%)

Two compulsory extended response problem-solving questions. 

Internal Assessment (20%)

This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course. 

Mathematical Exploration

Students are to individually investigate an area of mathematics and write a piece on it.

More information can be found under the IB Syllabus.

5. Challenges Faced in IB Maths

5.1. Incomplete Mastery of Content

As an IB Maths student, one has a large amount of content to learn and digest. From Calculus to Statistics and Probability, your child may feel overwhelmed from the sheer amount of knowledge and facts that he/she is expected to understand. Moreover, if students are struggling to learn the basic rules and facts, this may hinder them from answering higher-order thinking questions that build on these foundational mathematical facts.

5.2. Lack of Adequate Resources To Revise

With the IB route being less common than the A Level route here in Singapore, there are far fewer resources and assessment books available in Singapore for IB than for the A levels. In fact, there are only a few credible IB Maths assessment books that are in line with the IB syllabus, one of which being the Oxford IBDP Assessment books. Moreover, some students may feel that there are insufficient past IB Maths examination papers available for students to practise, in comparison to A Level students who have the famous Ten Year Series (TYS) to practise.As a result, students may not have enough practice to be truly confident to sit for their various Internal and External Assessments, which could prove to be detrimental to their IB Maths grades.

5.3. Insufficient Time to Complete the Paper Due to Poor Time Management

The IB External Assessments are extremely rigorous and students usually find themselves struggling to complete the paper due to poor time management or insufficient practice. Regardless of how well-versed with the syllabus content students are, without proper time management, students will still be unable to score well in the IB examinations.

Hence, MindFlex recommends that students work on their time management by setting aside time to practice their exam papers under timed conditions in order to simulate real-life exam settings. This way, students will be able to build up their time management skills as well as to familiarise themselves with the speed and accuracy required to complete their paper and do well.

6. IB Maths Tips and Resources

With the huge amount of challenges listed above, the IB Maths  curriculum definitely seems daunting. Here at MindFlex, we have compiled a short list of tips to score for IB Maths. 

6.1. IB Maths Tips

With the huge amount of challenges listed above, the IB Maths  curriculum definitely seems daunting. Here at MindFlex, we have compiled a short list of tips to score for IB Maths. 

1. Clear All Doubts

Oftentimes, many IB Maths students will let all of their doubts accumulate throughout the year as they procrastinate clearing them, and then sit for their examinations with these doubts uncleared. Moreover, these doubts could have been easily cleared with a simple question or consultation session with a teacher or tutor.

Here at MindFlex, we recommend that students clear all of their misconceptions as promptly as possible, because the sooner students’ doubts are cleared, the faster they can gain mastery in that topic before the examination.

2. Create a Study Plan

In this day and age, it is common for students to get distracted by their smartphones and social media. As such, it is necessary to bring a sense of discipline and structure into your study plan. Moreover, it is important that the study plan students create is realistic and attainable, so as not to discourage them. More importantly, it should consist of concrete plans and actions. This ensures that students will be more likely to stick to their plan, and remain on top of the IB Maths curriculum.

3. Practice makes Perfect

It is no secret that learning Mathematics involves lots of practice in order to drill in the Mathematical concepts and help students to achieve complete content mastery. With a lack of practice, students will not only struggle to understand the content that they learn in lessons, but their time management will also suffer as they have insufficient exposure to the different types of examination questions. This translates into doing badly in the IB Maths examinations. 

As such, it is important that students have sufficient practice for every topic that is learnt. MindFlex recommends that students set aside time to have some topical revision and practice after every topic is taught in school, on top of keeping up with school homework and tutorials. This way, students will get sufficient practice by the time they sit for the IB Maths examinations and assessments.

Apply for a free tutor request at MindFlex today! Absolutely 0 obligations – just fill in the form and leave the rest to us! 

6.2. IB Maths Resources

Here, we have compiled our top 7 resources for your child to aid him/her in their IB Maths preparation.

1. Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches

This book is fit for IB Maths students as it is specially written to have the truest alignment to the latest IBDP Maths Syllabus. Moreover, it is student -friendly and thus is not intimidating for IB Maths students to use. This book serves as an effective guide for IB Math Students, and they can be confident that it contains the most up-to-date information for their curriculum.

IB Maths Analysis and Approaches Guidebook

This Guidebook is up-to-date with the Latest IB Maths Syllabus

2. IB Maths 4 u

As the first forum specially dedicated to IB Maths, IB Maths 4 u has been helping IB students with their Maths since 2012. Now, IB Maths 4 u produces different forms of educational resources such as Mobile Applications, websites and books to help students understand the different mathematical facts, concepts and formulas in the IB Maths curriculum. From producing video lessons and theory content, IB Maths 4 u has got you covered!

IB Maths 4 U

IB Maths 4 U is Students’ One-stop Guide for IB Maths

3. IB Resources Repository

There are not many resources and practice papers available for IB Maths students for them to gain complete mastery of the mathematical content. More pressingly, the lack of practice may lead to them falling short in terms of time management skills, as mentioned above.

The IB Resources Repository contains a pool of content including past-year IB papers and Question Banks that will help students immensely in preparing for the IB Maths  examinations and various assessments. 

IB Resources Logo

4. Quizlet

Quizlet is an online learning flashcard tool which aims to help make learning more engaging and interactive. Apart from utilising flashcard sets already on the app, users can create their own sets – allowing it to be more personalised and catered to the user’s needs. With Quizlet, parents can help to make flashcard sets for their child, who can then go through the flashcards at their own pace and convenience.

Quizlet is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Quizlet logo

5. StudyBlue

Studyblue is an online learning tool made specially for students. Available both in website and mobile app form, it allows students to upload class study materials, create flashcards and study materials to share with users of the app. By promoting co-learning, students will be able to greatly benefit from other users of the app. 

Studyblue is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

StudyBlue Logo

6. IB Maths Tuition

If your child needs additional support in his/her IB Maths journey, you may consider enrolling him/her in IB Maths Tuition. With over 20 different choices, MindFlex has collated a list of IB Maths  Tuition Centres that can help your child achieve their desired grades. 

View our 20 Top Tuition Options for IB Students (HL & SL) here!

7. MindFlex IB Maths Home Tutors

If tuition centres are not for you, why not give MindFlex’s Home Tutors a try? With over 5,000 experienced tutors, MindFlex holds one of the largest selections of IB Maths Home Tutors who are able to guide your child in their IB Maths preparation. Enjoy quality education at the comforts of your own home with MindFlex, and watch your grades improve!

Request for a MindFlex IB Maths Tutor here.

7. Conclusion

Here at MindFlex, we know how challenging the IB Maths curriculum can be. From the amount of content mastery of Mathematical concepts required of students to the higher-order Application-style questions in the examinations, the IB Maths curriculum is definitely tough.

This is why at MindFlex, our Top IB Maths Tutors are available to help you ease your burden as you take the IB Maths course. Our IB Maths Tutors can help you to regularly clear your doubts and misconceptions, as well as guide you on the various Mathematical and analytical skills that are needed for you to score well in IB Maths.

Kickstart your IB Maths journey with MindFlex today!

Do also check out our other IB Related resources at these links:
IB Tuition in Singapore: 20 Top Tuition Options for IB Students (HL & SL)
IB English – The Complete Guide to IB English (SL/HL) in Singapore
The Best IB Chemistry Tuition in Singapore

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