Welcome to the fifth post in our series on IB grade boundaries! Please read the first post for an introduction to IB grade boundaries. This post is on Group 5 subjects: Mathematics at studies level, SL and HL.
Little Geniuses have compiled data from May 2014 to Nov 2016 to analyse trends in grade boundaries for the three group 5 subjects available. However, it’s not recommended to choose a group 5 subject based on its cut-off: instead base this choice on your mathematical ability, plans for future study and passions.
This graph illustrates the average cut-off for a band 7 in studies, SL and HL mathematics. Mathematics subjects tend to have similar cut-off marks to group 3 (humanities) and group 4 (sciences) subjects.
The cut-off is highest for Mathematics SL over the three-year period, at 82. The cut-off is lowest for HL Mathematics at 75, due to its difficulty, and the volume of content that must be learnt and understood. Note that 70 was the average cut-off for physics HL, over the same period: a much lower cut-off for a similarly difficult subject. The average cut-off for group 5 (mathematics) is similar, at 79.0, compared to the average cut-off for group 1 (English) subjects, at 80.1. However, the cut-off for mathematics tends to be higher than the cut-off for humanities and sciences subjects.
While there are some differences in the band 7 cut-offs for each of the mathematics subjects, it’s best to choose subjects based on your abilities and plans for future study.
First, consider your own mathematical abilities: HL Mathematics, equivalent to HSC 4+ unit Mathematics, is challenging, and exposes students to a variety of topics and covers them in a lot of depth. SL Mathematics is still rigorous, and students are exposed to key topics: differentiation, integration and vectors but in less depth. SL maths is equivalent to HSC 2 unit mathematics.
Finally, Mathematics Studies does not provide students with a rigorous understanding of calculus, but instead focuses more attention on geometry, statistics and logic. Mathematics studies is equivalent to HSC general mathematics. Students choosing Mathematics Studies may struggle if their future studies involve mathematics of any nature, for example, actuarial studies often require HL mathematics as a prerequisite. In other degrees, such as mathematics, science or engineering, this level of mathematics is not required, however you might be at a disadvantage compared to other students, with a stronger mathematics background.
The graph above displays the trends in the band 7 cut-off mark over time. As in the previous posts, exam number 1 is May 2014 TZ1, exam 2 is May 2014 TZ2, exam 3 is Nov 2014 TZ1 etc. Note that there are three exams every calendar year - there is only one time zone in November. It appears that the cut-off for Mathematics HL and SL is decreasing over time. However, this may just be an anomaly. Other than this, there don’t appear to any long-term trends, however, it is interesting to note the fluctuation in mathematics studies and SL cut-offs, compared to mathematics HL which is relatively stable. Overall, we can observe less variation in the cut-off for a band 7 in group 5 (mathematics) subjects compared to group 3 (humanities) and group 4 (sciences) subjects. If you’re wondering which band you would have achieved in any mathematics past paper, be sure to check out the grade boundaries for that particular session!
Please contact Little Geniuses if you need help in achieving a band 7 in your mathematics subject.