Making sense of the various IB Math offerings can be confusing. Which one should you take if you hope to be an engineer, and which ones should you avoid? With so many acronyms floating around, how can you understand the differences between the four available IB Math curriculums?

In this article, we’ll help you better understand the syllabus for the IB Math Applications and Interpretations (AI) curriculum (IB Math AI syllabus 2022). We’ll also discuss the differences between the Standard and Higher Level versions of the course, as well as the differences between the IB Math AI (Applications and Interpretations) versus the IB Math AA (Analysis and Approaches). Let’s get started!

What is IB Math AI?

The IB Math Applications and Interpretations (AI) curriculum focuses on the practical application of mathematical concepts. This makes the IB Math AI course well-suited for students who are more interested in practical implementation rather than theory, and who do not plan to pursue a math-based course after high school. Students who do wish to pursue a math-based course after high school, such as engineering or economics, should opt for the IB Math Analysis and Approaches (AA) curriculum.

The IBDP Mathematics consists of two levels:

  • Higher Level (HL)
  • Standard Level (SL)

You can choose any one of the below two paths offered by IB which includes:

  • AA – Analysis and Approaches
  • AI – Applications and Interpretation

Combining all these you have to study at least one of the four IBDP Math course:

  • IB AI HL Math
  • IB AI SL Math
  • IB AA HL Math
  • IB AA SL Math

IB Math AI SL Syllabus – Updated 2022

The IB Math AI SL is similar to the old Math Studies curriculum. It is the easiest IB Math track. As such, it is best suited for students whose strengths lie in areas outside of math and who do not plan on studying a math-based course after high school.

The goal of Mathematical Studies Standard Level is to instill confidence in students and promote a practical understanding of math. Students who don’t want to get into detailed study of higher level mathematical concepts and the theory behind them can opt for this course. The curriculum covers algebra, functions and equations, geometry and trigonometry, statistics and probability, and some basic calculus.

IB Math AI HL Syllabus – Updated 2022

To complete the IB, students must pursue the Higher Level (HL) track in three of the six subjects they take. You may be wondering, what’s the difference if you choose to pursue IB Math AI Higher Level? For one thing, there are about 90 more instructional hours in the HL track. While the topics covered are the same, the HL track goes into greater depth and covers some higher level topics. Finally, there is a slight difference in how students are assessed. Whereas IB Math AI SL students are assessed using 2 Papers, HL students take 3 Papers, and each one lasts longer.

The Applications & Interpretations courses have five core topics that both SL and HL students study (for different amounts of time). The table given below has all the topics and their teaching hours:

Topic Instructional Hours (SL)Instructional Hours(HL)
Number and Algebra1629
Function and equations 3142
Geometry and trigonometry 1846
Statistics and Probability3652
Calculus 1941
Toolkit and Exploration3030
Total150 Hours240 Hours

What is the main objective of the IB Math AI course?

The main aim of this course is to develop students’ practical skills in mathematics with an emphasis on using math in the real world. As such, unlike the Analysis and Approaches Papers, the Assessment Papers for the IB Math Applications and Interpretations do not include a No Calculator section.

Which is the toughest IB Math?

IB Math AA HL is the most challenging IB course for high school students. The subject has a huge workload, difficult exam questions, and some topics of advanced difficulty levels.

Should I take IB Math AA or AI?

AA is for you if you like math and are curious about the reason behind the theories. Choose IB Maths AI if you want to understand how to apply math rather than the theory behind it. Choose Arithmetic AI HL if you are only concerned with the applications of math and have no interest in the theories.

Can I pursue engineering with IB Math AI?

While the requirements vary between different institutions of higher education, generally speaking, the IB Math AI is NOT suited for students who wish to pursue engineering. If you wish to study engineering in the future, then we highly recommend taking IB Math AA, either SL or HL. If, for whatever reason, you stick with taking IB Math AI, you should at least take the HL version of the course to display some quantitative rigor.

We hope that you now have a better sense of the IB Math AI syllabus and a more thorough understanding of whether the SL or HL version of the IB Math AI is suited for you!