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Overview and Tips: Mathematics AA

Understanding the IB Mathematics curriculum was simple when Math was offered at HL and SL only. The recent changes, for which the first examinations were held in May 2021 have been challenging for many prospective students. Instead of math SL or HL, IB students are now required to take Math AA (Analysis and Approaches) or Math AI (Applications and Interpretations). This article will provide you with information regarding Math AA specifically and the differences between HL and SL of the subject.

Syllabus Overview

Past overviews have already determined that the Math AI course is skewed towards statistics and financial mathematics. At the same time, the Math AA course is theory-based, the most prevalent topics being functions and calculus.

There is 60 hours worth of similar topics between AA SL and AA HL, however, there are still significant content differences which can be viewed from the table below provided in the Math AA subject brief.

Number and Algebra1939
Geometry and Trigonometry2551
Statistics and Probability2733
  • Calculators

Calculators are an essential part of IB Mathematics courses. One thing to remember is that AI courses allow calculators in all examinations while AA courses do not. For paper 1, HL, and SL, calculators are not allowed. While for paper 2, both HL and SL, calculators are allowed to be used. Regarding paper 3, which is only for HL, calculators can be used.

The IBO has an exam calculator policy that highlights the allowed calculators. It is helpful to pick one and learn how to use it in class as you study the content because graphical calculators play a major role in examinations. The list of allowed calculators can be found here. The IBO recommends the TI-84 Plus and TI-83 Plus, models.

  • Examinations and IAs

Examinations for both Analysis and Approaches HL and SL have around 5-7 questions which are the same for both levels. However there are differences in terms of the marks and the time for each examination.

Paper 180 Marks
90 Minutes
110 Marks
120 Minutes
Paper 280 Marks
90 Minutes
110 Marks
120 Minutes
Paper 3
55 Marks
60 Minutes

IA weightage is the same at both levels, at is 20%.In the IAs there are two favored topics. These are functions and calculus as they require the assistance of complex mathematical reasoning and procedures. Calculus is also the topic that is studied in most detail which is why students may opt for it.

Quick Tips

The Math AA courses are rigorous and require a great deal of practice and attention. Remember to:

  • Self-study, I’ve found that giving at least one hour to revising and practicing every day has helped me improve a lot.
  • Practice concepts you find difficult, do not abandon a topic just because it’s hard, group studying helps a lot because when you explain things to friends you also learn them for yourself
  • Ask your teacher for help whenever you need it, teachers will always accommodate you, I usually sit with my teacher in free classes to study the harder concepts.
  • The IA for Math AA may seem daunting, but remember you will understand better how to employ mathematical concepts in your work once you have studied some of the syllabi.


  • Formula Booklet

One thing that has helped me a lot in class has been the Mathematics: analysis and approaches formula booklet SL/HL. This booklet contains all of the essential formulae required for each topic. Whenever I come across a formula that is not available in the booklet, I’ve written it in the space under its topic to ensure I can memorize it before an exam.

  •   RevisionVillage

Revision Village is a great resource for IB Math, that helped me the most in

 practicing math questions. It contains a breakdown of each math course available in the IB from AI SL to AA HL, along with exam-style questions and practice papers. Topic 1: Numbers and Algebra is completely free. However if you want the other topics you must pay. You can ask your school to purchase the resource for everyone or buy a shared membership with your entire class!

Most importantly, remember that even though the subject may be challenging at times, giving it enough time and attention will yield great results, and taking this course can be fun too!

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