29 Apr 2021

The Singapore Cambridge A levels and the international Baccalaureate (IB) program are the two most widely offered pre – university programs in Singapore. As Mathematics is a prerequisite for many university courses, many A levels and IB students often study mathematics as a subject at the pre – university level.

Common questions asked by parents

- “Is there any difference between International Baccalaureate Higher Level Math (Analysis and Approaches) and JC H2 Mathematics?”
- “Is IB Math harder than JC H2 Mathematics?”

For the uninitiated, International Baccalaureate Higher Level Math (Analysis and Approaches), commonly referred to as IB Math HL AA is a subject offered by most of the local IB schools in Singapore such as ACS Independent St Joseph’s Institution and School of the Arts. Students intending to pursue a degree in Engineering, Computer Science and Economics are strongly encouraged to take this subject. A level students who like to major in medicine, dentistry, engineering, architecture and economics in university are encouraged to choose JC H2 Level Mathematics.

Both IB Math AA and H2 Math are frequently compared to each other as they are compulsory subjects for aspiring engineers and computer scientists. Students who have completed either subject qualify for most courses in universities. They will have a wide range of courses to choose from. As both subjects are content heavy in calculus, they form the prerequisite for many math and science related courses in university.

In what ways are the two subjects the same? There are some topics which are common between the two subjects, such as functions, algebra, calculus and statistics. Both subjects are cognitively demanding as the exam questions were challenging and unpredictable.

Some other similarities include, both IB Math and A level Math are 2 years programs. Students sit for an external examination at the end of the 2 years program. Students continue with university student after they complete the programs. Both programs lay excellent foundation for future university studies.

One notable difference between the subjects is IB HL AA Maths is not 100% assessed based on exams. The final exam constitutes 80% of the total grade and the remaining 20% of the grade is awarded based on a Mathematics exploration. The Math exploration is a 12 -13 pages math research project. It offers students the opportunity to apply their math knowledge to real world applications. A level H2 Mathematics is 100% exam based and students are graded depending on their exam scores in the Singapore Cambridge A level examination.

Other significant differences between them are the topics covered in both subjects. While there are some common topics between them, there are also some topics covered in IB Math and are omitted in JC H2 Mathematics. For example, trigonometry, proofs by contradiction are heavily covered in IB HL AA Mathematics while these are not included in the H2 Mathematics syllabus. Instead, trigonometry falls under presumed knowledge for H2 Mathematics.

The approved graphical calculators used for IB HL AA Math is also different from JC H2 Mathematics. The Texas Instruments ti nspire cx calculator is a popular choice of calculators for IB Math HL AA students as it a powerful calculator which is extremely versatile. However, this calculator is not approved for use in JC H2 Mathematics. Most A level students use the Texas Instruments TI-84 calculators.

The grading system in both subjects also differ. While marks are awarded for partial working in both subjects, students are not graded in the same way. IB HL Math AA is a points system, students receive points from 1 – 7, with 7 being the highest. Singapore Cambridge H2 Math grade students on a pass scale from A to E with A being the highest.

Although there are several similarities between both types of Mathematics, there are also significant differences. Both subjects prepare students well for the rigours of university study and are well accepted as pre- requisites for university courses worldwide.

To find out more about JC A Level H2 Mathematics and International Baccalaureate Higher Level Math (Analysis and Approaches), do not hesitate to contact us tel:+6598198928 or fill up the contact form.

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