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Know the difference between IB Maths AA and IB Maths AI

The International Baccalaureate examines its subjects every seven years and continues to make changes to keep the syllabus up-to-date. The subject is divided into two courses: - IB Maths AA (Analysis and Approaches) and IB Maths AI (Applications and Interpretations), devising it in an easy way for students to pick the one that is suitable for them.

IB Maths AA

The IB Maths Analysis and Approaches are quite identical to the Mathematics Standard Level Syllabus. With some sections removed and others added to the syllabus, it is an apt subject for students who are keen on studying subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Economics.

At the High Level, the subject is suitable for those students who want to pursue Engineering or Mathematics in college. AA focuses on the greater abstract and theoretical understanding of mathematical concepts.

IB Maths AI

The IB Maths (Application and Interpretation) is taught in SL and HL and is ideal for those students who want to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in college. It focuses on the greater abstract and theoretical understanding of mathematical concepts such as statistics, distributions, and matrices with a practical approach.

Maths AA Vs Maths AI: The Differences

1. Focus

AI and AA have some common topics covered in the first sixty hours of the course. Here, the focus is on the theoretical elements of the subjects and the objective is to teach students to analyse abstract theories that form the basis of all the calculations.

2. SL and HL modules

The students can choose IA and AA at the High Level or Standard Level. The former requires the students to study for a minimum of 240 hours after which they will write three exams for each module. On the other hand, the Standard Level requires them to put in about 150 hours into learning, after which they will take two written exams.

The topics in common to both AI and AA are: -

  • Number and Algebra
  • Function
  • Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Calculus

However, the approach varies based on the course that a student chooses. The concepts are approached theoretically if a student is studying it as an AA topic. It is taught with an ‘implementation’ perspective in an AI course.

What do foreign universities prefer?

Several universities in the UK such as Cambridge and King’s College, London have designated a definite requirement for Maths AA HL for their maths courses.

At the same time, Oxford and Edinburgh have no preference for Analysis and Approaches or the Application and Interpretation course. Hence, it is a good idea to reach out to the office of admissions at the university of a student’s choice for further clarification, unless stated on their website.

Overall, if a student is keen to pursue a moderately maths-linked course like economics or sciences, most universities would prefer having maths AA, either at SL or HL. On the other hand, a student interested in courses like law, language, or social sciences would be comfortable taking up maths AL SL.

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