The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum consists of six subject groups. Group five, mathematics, is made up of four different math courses. To earn an IB diploma, a person must pass at least one of the following three math courses: Mathematical Studies Standard Level, Mathematics Standard Level or Mathematics Higher Level. The fourth course, which is not required, is Further Mathematics Higher Level.
Mathematical Studies Standard Level is designed to build confidence in students and encourage them to appreciate math. This course is for students who do not expect math to play a major part in their university studies. Its curriculum includes numbers and algebra, geometry and trigonometry, statistics and financial math, as well as a few other topics.
Mathematics Standard Level, on the other hand, is intended mainly for students who are preparing for future studies in chemistry, economics and business. Similarly to Mathematical Studies Standard Level, students will study algebra, trigonometry and statistics. These and a few other areas of study form the common “Core curriculum” for both Mathematics Standard and Higher Level with the Standard Level curriculum being a subset of the Higher Level curriculum.
Mathematics Higher Level is for students who already have a good background in math and who have proven to have a range of analytical and technical skills. These students, like those in Mathematics Standard Level, are most often preparing for university studies in physics, engineering and technology. Mathematics Higher Level requires a minimum of 190 instructional hours. Also, students are required to study at least one optional topic (called “options”) for a minimum of 40 additional instructional hours.
The Further Mathematics Higher Level course (Standard Level before 2014) is designed for students who are both competent and interested in math and more specifically, for those who intend to continue studying math while at university. Students who take this course often also take Mathematics Higher Level. In fact, knowledge of all material from the Core curriculum of Mathematics Higher Level is necessary for this course.