Academic Subjects

Maths AA vs Maths AI: Difference Explained

Every seven years, the IBO modifies its subjects so as to make the content more relevant for its students. This has brought a drastic change in the maths curriculum beginning with M21 graduates: the introduction of Mathematics AA and Mathematics AI. This post highlights the differences between the two, and what each one aims to teach!

Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (SL/HL)

This course recognizes the need for analytical expertise in a world where innovation is increasingly dependent on a deep understanding of mathematics. It places emphasis on constructing, communicating, and justifying correct mathematical arguments. Students who choose Maths AA at SL/HL level should be comfortable with using algebraic expressions, recognizing patterns, and understanding the mathematical generalization of these patterns. You can find the course guide here.

Mathematics: Applications and Interpretations (SL/HL)

This course recognizes the increasing role that mathematics and technology play in a diverse range of fields in a data-rich world. Its extensive use of technology allows students to explore and construct mathematical models. Students who choose Maths AI at SL/HL level should enjoy using mathematics in real-world contexts and solving real-world problems. You can find the course guide here.

Differences between the subjects

Syllabus:

Analysis and ApproachesHours / TopicApplications and Interpretations
SLHLSLHL
1939Number and Algebra1629
2132Functions3142
2551Geometry and Trigonometry1846
2733Statistics and Probability3652
2855Calculus1942

Assessment:

Analysis and Approaches
Applications and Interpretations
SLHLSLHL
No-calculator allowed.
80 marks, 90 mins.
Weight – 40%
Short/long questions.
No-calculator allowed.
110 marks, 120 mins.
Weight – 30%
Short/long questions.

Paper 1
Calculator allowed.
80 marks, 90 mins.
Weight – 40%
Short questions.
Calculator allowed.
110 marks, 120 mins.
Weight – 30%
Short questions.
Calculator allowed.
80 marks, 90 mins.
Weight – 40%
Short/long questions.
Calculator allowed.
110 marks, 120 mins.
Weight – 30%
Short/long questions.

Paper 2
Calculator allowed.
80 marks, 90 mins.
Weight – 40%
Long questions.
Calculator allowed.
110 marks, 120 mins.
Weight – 30%
Long questions.
Calculator allowed
55 marks, 60 mins
Weight – 20%
2 Long questions.

Paper 3
Calculator allowed.
55 marks, 60 mins.
Weight – 20%
2 Long questions.
Mathematical exploration
A piece of written work that involves investigating an area of mathematics (20 marks).
Weight – 20%
IAMathematical exploration
A piece of written work that involves investigating an area of mathematics (20 marks).
Weight – 20%

How to choose the right course

There are 3 important things to consider when choosing the right course for you:

  • Your abilities and interests in different areas in maths;
  • Your choice of other subjects in the Diploma Program;
  • Your academic and career plans:
    • The IBO suggests:
      • Maths AA for students interested in mathematics, engineering, physical sciences, and some economics.
      • Maths AI for students interested in social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, statistics, business, engineering, some economics, psychology, and design.

Generally speaking, Maths AA provides a classical approach to mathematics. If you are eager to dive into the world of abstract theories and are keen on learning about the various types of proofs and methods we use to reach generalizations about the world around us, then AA is the course for you!

On the other hand, Maths AI provides a different perspective on similar problems and concepts that are explored in the AA syllabus. If you enjoy maths and desire a practical application, then AI is a better fit for you!


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