Academic Group 4 Subjects

Overview: Sports, Exercise & Health Science (SEHS)

Sports, Exercise and Health Science (SEHS) is a group 4 subject first established in 2014 which, as its name suggests, involves the study of the science that underpins physical performance. SEHS provides an opportunity for students to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to apply scientific principles and critically analyse human performance. Here, I hope to help you have a better understanding of this course and whether it’s the best one for you!

Course outline

SEHS explores different topics that are mainly based on biology and physics. SEHS is offered at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL), with 6 topics and 7 topics respectively.

There are 4 optional topics in SEHS, providing students opportunities to further explore varied knowledge from different aspects of sports. Optional topics are mandatory for both SL and HL students.

SLHLOptional topics
AnatomyFurther anatomyOptimising physiological performance
Exercise physiologyThe endocrine systemPsychology of sports
Energy systemsFatiguePhysical activity
Movement analysisFriction and dragHealth, and nutrition for sports, exercise and health
Skills in sportsSkill acquisition and analysis
Measurement and evaluation of human performanceGenetics and athletic performance
Exercise and immunity

Assessment outline

Both SL and HL students have to complete their final exam and internal assessment in order to receive their final grade in SEHS, which ranges from 1-7 like the other IB subjects. The following table sums up all assessment details of SEHS:

AssessmentFormatWeight
Paper 1Multiple choice on core and AHL topics20%
Paper 2Short questions and extended response on core and AHL topics35%
Paper 3Short questions and extended response on option topics. Students choose to answer in each of the two option topics studied.25%
Internal assessmentA written report that demonstrates student’s individual investigation on their area of interest in SEHS.20%

Should you choose SEHS?

  1. Curious about mechanics and theories behind sports performance

If you are someone who thinks about how to optimise your sports performance or investigates the reasons behind the success of elite athletes, SEHS is the perfect course for you to develop a stronger understanding of scientific knowledge behind sports and exercise! You can learn about a variety of sports theories, for example, the complex mechanisms of how the brain perceives signals to the theory of production of muscle movement.

  1. Pursuing a career related to sports

If you aim to pursue sports-related courses in university or a career in sport industries (such as sports management, sports therapy, and physiotherapy), SEHS may be the subject that you are looking for! SEHS is a “recognised academic qualification for admission to higher education institutions and will be advantageous for some courses”, putting students in a better place compared to those who don’t do SEHS. 

  1. Interested in Biology

SEHS is a subject that is predominantly based on Biology as the subject mainly explores the scientific concept behind sports performance. Therefore, if you are passionate about Biology, SEHS may also be a subject that you find comfortable. However, if you are someone who struggles with Biology, you may have to reconsider your choice of SEHS.

Personal experience

As a SEHS student, I found most topics fascinating to learn especially Topic 5 (Skills in Sports). This topic explains how human interprets information and processes information until the execution of movements and what I really like is that the topic really delves into exploring how the human body reacts and is impacted during sports performance. However, a few topics are quite challenging to me, especially Topic 1 (Anatomy). I think the main reason is that most of the syllabus points are facts that require pure memorisation. Topic 1 is all about anatomical position, which means I spend extra time learning the names of the muscles and bones, as well as their anatomical placement.

Easy or difficult?

SEHS is a subject that requires less analytical skills compared to Physics, Chemistry or Biology. Most of the syllabus points are straightforward and can be easily understood and learnt. However, hard work and dedication are still required to get good grades in this subject as SEHS requires memorisation quite heavily. I usually revise the content through cue cards and rewriting notes to keep the syllabus fresh in my head, otherwise I forget the content easily.

Constant revision is the key to success in this subject as the final examination covers the entire two-year content. If you do not constantly revise, you will find it harder to recall the content when you are trying to revise for the final exam and it can cause stress and panic, thus negatively impacting your examination performance. So, don’t think SEHS is merely an easier option to get good grades in Group 4 – you still have to work hard and cleverly to achieve good results!


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