Detailed information about the IB math curriculum and how our IB math tutor can help

In this blog post, we will explain the IB math syllabus and how our IB math tutor can help. When students are enrolled into the IB Diploma, they must choose a first language, a second language, a math subject, a science subject, a humanity and an art subject.


Thus, IB math is a compulsory subject that all students have to take. There are 4 math subjects for students to pick from: Math standard Level, Math higher level, math studies, and further math. Our IB math tutor can help students on all 4 of these subjects.

As different students have different needs, abilities and interests, students should pick their IB math subject carefully. Students need to consider their ability, their interest, their academic plan and their career aspirations when picking the appropriate math subject.


IB Math SL


The focus of the IB math SL course is to introduce key mathematical concepts and techniques to students. Compared to IB math HL, the rigour of IB math SL is much less. Moreover, students will be required to solve real world problems using appropriate mathematical techniques.


The IB math course are for students who have basic understanding of mathematical concepts and have foundational mathematical skills. After completing the IB math SL course, students an have a solid ground to pursue mathematically-related subjects in university, such as chemistry, economics and business.


Some of the key objectives of the IB Math SL course are as follows:

  • Learn to appreciate mathematics and its elegance

  • Understand fundamental principles related to mathematics

  • Be able to communicate clearly in problem solving

Below are the major topics and units in IB math SL

  • Algebra

  • Functions

  • Trigonometry and Circular function

  • Vectors

  • Probability/statistics

  • Calculus

  • Internal assessment (mathematical exploration)

In all IB test and exams, to get a good mark, students are expected to demonstrate the following:

  • Understanding and the ability to recall and apply relevant concepts

  • Problem solving skills and application of concepts to solve problems

  • Ability to communicate solutions in a concise and logical manner

  • Ability to use technology to help solve problems

  • Ability to solve real-world related math problems

There are 3 major assessments for all IB math SL students:

  • Paper 1: the paper 1 is an exam that takes 1.5 hours and covers all the topics listed above. It accounts for 40% of the student’s final score. This paper involves extended response and short response questions. What distinguishes this paper from the paper 2 is that in paper 1, students are not allowed to use the graphic calculation

  • Paper 2: Similar to the paper 1, the paper 2 takes 1.5 hours and is 40% of the student’s score. In this paper, students can use the graphic calculator.

  • Mathematical exploration: This is essentially the internal assessment for IB SL students and accounts for 20% of the marks. Students need to pick their own topic in mathematics to explore.

IB Math HL


Math HL is noticeably harder than IB math SL, and are for students with good analytical skills and a strong mathematical background. The course is well suited for students who plan to pursue math-heavy subjects in university, such as engineering and physics. Students with a strong passion for mathematics are encouraged to pick IB math HL.

The core syllabus topics in IB math HL are essentially the same as the Math SL students. However, Math HL students are required to study each topic in much more depth. In other words, although the topics are the same, IB math HL covers more advanced techniques.


In addition to the core syllabus topics, IB Math HL students are required to pick one of the option topics to study. These topics include:

  • Statistics and probability

  • Sets, relations and groups

  • Calculus

  • Discrete mathematics

These option topics are more advanced and are often studied in university.

In terms of the assessment, IB math HL students need to face 4 of them:

  • Paper 1: Similar to Math SL, the paper 1 is a test on the core syllabus and students are not allowed to use the graphing calculator. However, in IB math HL, the paper 1 only accounts for 30% of the total score but is 2 hours long. This is because more advanced concepts are taught in IB Math HL

  • Paper 2: Again, the paper 2 is similar to math SL in format and is a paper where students can use their graphic calculator. The exam is 2 hours long and counts for 30% of the marks.

  • Paper 3: This paper is purely a test of the option topic that the student studies. It is only 1 hour long and counts for 20% of the marks

  • Mathematical exploration: This is essentially the same as the Math SL mathematical exploration.

IB math studies


This course is designed with a stronger emphasis on statistics and the real world application of mathematics. Typically, students who are weaker in math and are interested in pursuing social science subjects in university would benefit taking the math studies course.


The mathematic studies course have a number of unique objectives:

  • Develop research skills of students

  • Develop problem solving skills

  • Ability to formulate mathematical arguments