IB Overview Subjects What is IB?

What subjects should I choose?

My Criteria

I’d recommend choosing classes based on two criteria:

1) What you’re interested in. You’ll be naturally motivated to study, which is essential to succeeding in the IB (or at least making it more enjoyable).

2) Your career interests and university admissions requirements, because they will strengthen your application when you show a demonstrated interest in a particular subject.

For example, these are the subjects I selected as well as why I chose them:


  • Computer Science (CS) – I have always loved technology and programming apps, and I was applying to university as a prospective CS major.
  • Economics – Growing up in a developing country, Econ was extremely relevant in my life, and I was considering it as a double major in university.
  • Language and Literature – I wanted to take an English course with a mix of media and literature, not only literature. Although this didn’t have a direct link to my career interests or university application, I believe communication, especially in our digital age, is a vital skill that will be helpful in whatever field I pursue.


  • Chemistry – When I was researching US universities, certain colleges I applied to (such as UCLA) required a “laboratory science”. I honestly wouldn’t have taken this if not for the university requirement, which is why I encourage you to research this in advance! You don’t want to end up getting rejected from university because you missed a subject requirement. (On the plus side, I now understand chemistry pickup lines.)
  • Chinese B – I thought this was a practical language to take since it is the most spoken worldwide. Having grown up in Asia, I also felt it would be relevant!
  • Mathematics – I just took this since it was required. One thing I did consider was whether to take HL Math for engineering college requirements, but in the end I decided not to because many colleges in the US offer two different degrees for CS – a Bachelor in Arts (BA) or Bachelor in Science (BS). I did the former and ended up getting accepted to Cornell University (top 10 in engineering for undergraduates)!
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  1. As I want to be a doctor I’m taking HL Chemistry and Biology but for the third I’m torn between Economics HL or Math AA HL.
    My SLs are Language and Literature and French Ab initio

    So between Economics and Math AA which should I make the SL and which one should I make the HL?

    1. Hi Nathan! Thanks for asking a question. There’s definitely no right answer to this. We advise looking at which subjects universities would like for Med degrees, considering which you would enjoy studying more at HL, and if you want to keep the door open for studying Econ further. Good luck!

  2. Hey! I’m starting IB this September and I’m as excited as I am nervous!! I’ve always found it difficult to decide what to study in university but after a lot of restless nights, I’ve decided to study Industrial and Systems Engineering. What subjects do you recommend I take in September?

    1. Have a look at the websites of universities you’re thinking of applying to and see what subjects they recommend. There may be subjects you need to take and subjects which they prefer you to take. Good luck with IB!

  3. Hey guys! Thanks for creating this website, I really appreciate it. I want to become a Computer Science Engineer or something along the lines of CS. I took Math, Physics, and Chem HL while taking L&L, Mandarin, and Econs SL since my school doesn’t offer CS HL. Will I still be able to take CS? Is Physics beneficial to CS? Should I swap Chem with Econs?

    1. Maths is the main subject which Computer Science degrees have a a requirement for. Other than that, choose what interests you – your current HLs sound great. Do check with your school and with university information about Computer Science degrees, though. Best wishes!

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