IB Math AA vs IB Math AI: Here’s How the Subjects Compare

April 5, 2023

math aa vs math ai

In this guide, we look at the differences and similarities between IB Math AA and IB Math IA. By understanding how they compare, you won’t have to struggle choosing one subject over the other.

Key Takeaways

  • The International Baccalaureate makes changes to IB subjects every seven years to ensure course timeliness and program relevance.
  • IB split the Math subject into two. Now you can choose Analysis and Approaches or study Application and Interpretation.
  • The initial stages of IB Math AA and AI are similar in Standard and Higher Levels. Check with your school to determine if they allow you to change modules, so you can switch up accordingly if you ever have to. 

What is IB Math AA?

Math AA is the subject that focuses on Analysis and Approaches and it’s similar to the current Math syllabus taught at the standard level.

IB removed some sections from the syllabus. It equally added a few parts to make the subject more comprehensive and relevant to the course material, making the subject suitable for students who wish to study subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, and Economics.

The Math AA at Higher Level (HL) is ideal for students who wish to study Mathematics or Engineering at college or university. While it’s similar to the IB SL, it also has a few additions and subtraction for comprehensiveness and relevance.

What is IB Math AI?

Taught both at SL and HL, IB Math AI is subject suitable for students who would like to pursue Bachelors of Arts degree.

Note that the subject is similar to the Math taught at SL level.

While the IB Math IA taught at Higher Level is an extension of the SL subject, the primary focus of the subject is on depth rather than breadth. 

IB Math AA vs IB Math IA: Making Your Choice between the Subjects

As to whether you should choose IB Math AA or IB Math AI, it depends on the career path of your choice.

If you wish to become a mathematician, data scientist, machine learner, or an engineer, Math Analysis & Approaches will give you the knowledge and tools necessary to excel in your career.

If you intend to pursue a career in areas such Management and Economics, you should choose the Math Application & Interpretation because the focus is on mathematical application

At Help for Assessment, we understand that not every IB student can figure out his or her career path soon. 

If this is anything like you, we strongly suggest that you evaluate your attitude towards Mathematics. Doing so will not only help you to decide what career best suits you but also what module to pursue.

The bottom line is this:

If you find yourself fascinated by the “why” behind mathematical theories, choose IB Math Analysis and Approaches. However, if you’re only interested in applying Math, you should consider IB Math Application and Interpretation.

Also, IB states clearly that the AA subject is a viable option for students who would like to consider STEM-intensive subjects. And the AI is a good option for those who would like to study human sciences. 

What’s the Difference Between IB Math AA and IB Math AI?

The following is a summary of the difference between IB Math Analysis & Approaches and IB Math Application & Interpretation:

1. Focus

While IB Math AA and AI have common topic that teachers must cover in the first 60 hours of the course, the core focus of the two subjects vary.

  • Math Analysis and Approaches: The subject focuses on the theory, with an objective of teaching students how to analyze abstract theories that form the basis of all calculations.
  • Math Application and Interpretation: Teachers guide students on how to apply mathematical concepts in the real world, with distribution and statistics being the major component of the subject.

2. IB Math AA and AI in SL and HL Modules

You may choose to study IA and AA in Standard or Higher Level in IB.

  • Standard Level: You must put in about 150 hours of learning and you take two written exams. If you do not have a strong foundation in mathematics, it’s best to study IB Math AA or AI at the standard level to avoid the frustrations and difficulty of the IB program.
  • Higher Level: You must study for 240 hours, after which you will write three exams for each module. HL option is ideal for you if you’re good in Math.

3. Examinations and Calculator

Your teacher will allow you to use a calculator for Math AI examinations, as doing the calculations manually can take a long time.

Unfortunately, the use of calculator is limited to only to two exams in the Math Analysis and Approaches.

So you must be ready for some manual calculations – and be very good at mathematics to get this done right. 

4. Subject Ease

The IB Math Application and Interpretation is easier than the Analysis and Approaches because, at the very least, you can use the help of a calculator to write all your exams.

Analysis and Approaches can be somewhat challenging, as you have to do more calculus. Also, you have to do most of your calculations without the help of a calculator.

One important thing to keep in mind is that college and university requirements vary as far as these two subjects are concerned.

Some may require you to take the AA to meet their requirements. Also, the course you wish to purse may determine what module to take.  

What’s the Similarity between IB Math AA and Math AI?

Both subjects cover the core fields of Mathematics, which include algebra, calculus, number theory, and statistics. 

The Analysis and Approaches focuses on calculus as the core for all the STEM fields while the Application and Interpretation emphasizes more on statistics as the foundation for all the human sciences.

We strongly believe that it’s important to have a strong grasps and foundation in calculus, even if you don’t intend to focus field. The knowledge will make it easy for you to understand the concepts taught in the subject at Standard and Higher Levels.

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About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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