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DP Mathematics: Should I study Analysis and Approaches or Applications and Interpretation?

Updated: Jul 31

So you are nearing the end of your MYP journey and are making your DP choices for standard (SL) and higher level (HL). Just to make life a bit more complex you now have what feels like an additional choice within mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (AA) or Applications and Interpretation (AI).


Before diving in to the reflection questions, here is a completely personal opinion (non-IB supported) based on your current attainment in MYP maths: If you are comfortable with MYP maths (level 5-6), AASL will be the smoothest transition. If you did very well in the standard MYP maths course (7) or were comfortable in extended (6+), AAHL is a reasonable option. If you found the MYP course a challenge (<5) and would be open to a change, AISL offers that. Lastly, if you were comfortable with MYP maths at either level (6+) but want to try something new as a challenge, AIHL would be a good course.


Use these 7 questions to reflect on the best choice for you.


1. What type of mathematics do you enjoy?

If you enjoy theoretical maths, AA is for you! If you would rather use maths practically, you are probably better suited for AI.


2. What topics within mathematics do you enjoy?

Calculus is the chunkiest topic in AA while AI focuses far more on statistics and probability.


3. What career path do you see yourself taking?

In general, if you are planning to pursue further study and a career in a maths heavy field (engineering, science, maths etc.) AA is a good option, preferably at HL. For anything else, AI or AA should be sufficient.


4. What University do you want to go to?

While this is partly tied to the previous question, it is important to note that different universities have different requirements. Do your research!! If there is a high chance that you will want to study a maths subject at a reputable university, AA at HL is the safest (in terms of meeting requirements) option.


5. What does your school offer?

Maybe this is an earlier question to consider...not all schools will offer all four courses (AA and AI at two levels). For example, if AI is offered at SL and AA is offered at HL, maybe you already know that you have selected three other HL subjects so that's a decision made!


6. What type of assessments are you most comfortable with?

AA has two assessments which are both a combination of short and long response answer questions. AI has one short response paper and one long response paper. There is an additional paper for each if you choose to take HL.


7. How are your calculator skills?

AI allows you to use a calculator for all the papers whereas AA paper one is non-calculator. If you aren’t super comfortable with a GDC don’t let this scare you off of AI, you have time to learn. If you enjoy learning non-calculator mathematical methods then maybe you will sway towards AA.


Bonus - deciding between SL and HL

Both courses at HL have a large focus on Geometry & Trigonometry, secondary to the calculus for AA and statistics/probability for AI. Both courses include a further 90 hours of content.

The change in assessment is that in SL, paper one and two are each 90 minutes, in HL they are each two hours long. HL also has an additional 60 minute paper three which requires you to solve two long problems.


Hopefully that was helpful! If you have any further questions, please do leave a comment below.


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