There can be a lot of pressure that is put on choosing what combination of subjects to take in IB because they are important in putting students on the right path to their future university and eventually, career. These 5 tips that I used personally will hopefully help you in relieving some of that pressure and enjoy learning throughout your IB journey. 

 

1. What are you genuinely interested in?

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This tip may seem obvious, but is actually extremely important. You will be studying the same subjects for the next two years and investing a large amount of time into – why take something that you are not passionate about or feel disconnected from? 

If you are not enjoying any of the subjects you are taking, not only will it make you unmotivated, it will show when it comes to class tests, coursework like internal assessments (IAs) and final exams. Choosing courses that you really enjoy will translate into all the work that you do and will pay off in the end. 

For example, If you are interested in being an entrepreneur or working in the corporate sector, take Economics or Business Management (if available at your school). 

When choosing my IB subjects, I knew I was very interested in the sciences so I took Biology and Chemistry. I was really drawn to Psychology as it was a new subject and was intrigued to learn more about it.

 

2. Do your research

Taken from the SMU Admissions website for Law

If you are already certain of the major you want to take up in university, check what institutions require for your desired major. For example, if you want to take Economics, Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL) Math may be required, but IB Economics is not required. If you want to take business/commerce in the future, SL Math may be required, but IB Business usually is not required.

Furthermore, look at the grades the universities are looking for, e.g. to do engineering in a Canadian university you need at least a 5 in HL Math. Prerequisites vary from school to school so researching before you decide your subject combination is really important. 

 

3. Know your strengths and weaknesses

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You know yourself the best and know where your strengths and weaknesses lie which can play a big role in choosing your subjects. This tip is not saying to choose the ‘easiest’ subjects, because there are no ‘easy’ subjects and all the IB subjects are going to push you intellectually.

Instead, choose subjects that you have strong skills in: for example, if you are strong at applying knowledge to real life situations and learning new terminology, choosing Business Management would be a great idea. If you enjoy learning about business and are strong at maths and understanding graphs, Economics would be a good choice. 

In my experience, I knew that I was fairly strong at critical thinking and writing, on top of enjoying reading, so I took Higher Level English Literature. 

 

4. Communicate with your teachers

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The next person that knows you the best in school after yourself is your teachers; they are there to help and drive you to achieve the best for yourself. Discussing with my teachers about what I was considering was very helpful for me because they had a lot of advice on what to expect and whether the subject was a good fit for me or not. This was the case when I was deciding between taking HL or SL Biology and my teacher advised that it was what I scored the strongest in my tests, compared to the other 2 sciences, so I should take HL. 

5. Don’t let others decide for you

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This may be again quite obvious but can be very difficult. One example of other people having influence over your decisions is seeing all your friends have similar subject choices while you have completely different ones; many people would feel FOMO and feel as if they should choose the same subjects so that they can be with their friends. Another instance is where your parents are coaxing you to take a certain combination of subjects because they think it would be better for you.

In this process, you should be focusing on yourself and what you want to do. It is okay if your friends are in different classes to you as there are opportunities to make many new friends in your classes as you share the same interests and can meet with your friends outside of class. 

With family, while they want the best for you, communication is extremely important if you feel any doubts. Assure them that you are making the right decisions for yourself and tell them how confident you feel in those classes since you will be the one taking the class.

Remember that your subjects do not define who you are; it is not the end all be all. So with these 5 tips of advice, I wish you all the best for your decisions! 


This article is brought to you by Samantha Sayson. Samantha is a rising senior at United World College SEA East Campus and is currently interning with SNCF. In her free time, she enjoys fencing and spending time with her dog named Ginger. 

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