IB Math Content Overview

IB Math Overview

Course Overview

The IBO offers two different math courses to meet the different needs and aspirations of students.

  • Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches (AA)
  • Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation (AI)

Both courses are offered at Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). Math AA is tailored towards deeper abstract and theoretical understanding of mathematical concepts, whereas Math AI is tailored towards application of mathematical concepts to solve a wide range of practical problems. Learn about the differences here.

By studying these mathematics courses, students learn

  • how to develop mathematical concepts in a rigorous manner using a balanced approach
  • how to apply mathematical concepts in a wide variety of contexts
  • how to acquire strong technology skills to solve mathematical problems
  • how to effectively construct and communicate mathematical arguments and interpret the conclusions or generalisations
  • how to form connections between mathematical concepts in different topic areas
  • how to independently explore mathematical ideas through the internal assessment and other mathematical activities

Course Objectives

The objectives of both these mathematics courses are to prepare students to:

  • develop an inquisitive interest in mathematics and appreciate its style and power
  • develop a strong understanding of mathematical concepts, principles and procedures
  • confidently communicate mathematical ideas in a clear, brief and comprehensive manner
  • think logically and creatively and develop perseverance when solving problems using mathematics
  • apply and hone their abilities of generalisation
  • acquire technology skills to solve a wide range of mathematical problems
  • develop the ability to critically analyse their work and the work of other mathematicians
  • apply the mathematics learnt to other areas of knowledge

Curriculum Components

The following core topics are covered for students taking either of these two math courses at Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL). These topics are approached through a theoretical lens for Math AA and a practical lens for Math AI. Both Math AA and Math AI share approximately 60 hours of common SL content. The HL course gets into more detail and/ or covers more subtopics for these core topics than the SL course.

  • Number and algebra
  • Functions
  • Geometry and trigonometry
  • Statistics and probability
  • Calculus


Assessments in both math courses are to ascertain the ability of students to recollect and use appropriate mathematical concepts or techniques in both familiar and unfamiliar contexts. Problem-solving is key to learning mathematical concepts, and it requires application of a wide range of concepts and skills. Students are also required to sketch mathematical graphs or diagrams and present their arguments, reasoning and solutions clearly and logically using appropriate notations. The ability to effectively use appropriate technology to solve problems is also examined.

The internal assessment is an integral part of both math courses, and it is done by both SL and HL students. This is to assess the ability of students to independently investigate mathematics in their area of interest without the time constraints of written examinations. It enables students to analyse mathematical information, generate hypotheses, test their validity, draw conclusions and clearly communicate their findings.

The timing and weightage of assessments is the same for both courses, but the format of the papers is different. HL students take 3 papers, while SL students only take 2 papers.

TypeFormatTimeWeightage of final grade
Paper 1No technology allowed.

Section A:
Short response questions

Section B:
Extended response questions
Technology allowed.

Short response questions
1 hour 30 minutes2 hours40%30%
Paper 2Technology allowed.

Section A:
Short response questions

Section B:
Extended response questions
Technology allowed.

Extended response questions
1 hour 30 minutes2 hours40%30%
Paper 3Technology allowed.

Two Extended response problem solving questions
Technology allowed.

Two Extended response problem solving questions
-1 hour-20%
Internal Assessment (IA)Investigation and reportInvestigation and report15 hours15 hours20%20%

Suggested Program Curriculum (AA/AI)

Syllabus ComponentSL
No. of hours
No. of hours
Topic 1 — Number and algebra1629
Topic 2 — Functions3142
Topic 3 — Geometry and trigonometry1846
Topic 4 — Statistics and probability3652
Topic 5 — Calculus1941
The “toolkit” and Mathematical exploration
Investigative, problem-solving and modelling skills development leading to an individual exploration. The exploration is a piece of written work that involves investigating an area of mathematics.
Total teaching hours150240