How to Choose IB Subjects?

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Are you planning to enroll in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program?

If you are in the process, then you are well aware that there are lots of courses to select from to complete IB diploma requirements.

We are here to help you strategize your course load and make sure you select the right curriculum structure that works for you!

This article will help you decide on how to choose IB courses. We will briefly walk you through the IB curriculum subjects, factors to consider when selecting courses, and other resources you should consider in your decision. By the end of this article, you should have a good action plan to meet IB diploma requirements, along with your career goals.

How Many Subjects Do You Take for IB?

How Many Subjects Do You Take for IB?

How Many Subjects Do You Take for IB?

If you enroll in IB programs during high school, you will be required to complete one course from each of the six subject groups within the span of two years. Classes are offered at both the standard level and higher level; you are required to take at least three subjects at a higher level.

The IB curriculum subjects include the following:

  • Arts
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Language and Literature
  • Language Acquisition
  • Individuals & Societies

The standard level consists of 150 hours minimum, and the higher level consists of at least 240 hours of coursework. You’ll want to be selective on which subject you want to spend an increased amount of time on.

In addition to IB courses, you are required to complete an extended essay, independent research project, community service to receive the IB diploma. If you’re interested in receiving college credit for these efforts, you will also need to take the IB exam for college credit.

What Factors Should You to Consider when Choosing IB Subjects?

What Factors Should You to Consider when Choosing IB Subjects?

Here is a list of strategies that consider important factors for choosing IB courses.

Speak to your teachers and mentors

Teachers and mentors have special knowledge about you because they are very familiar with your work, your ethics, and your habits. Getting their perspective will be useful in deciding which courses would work best for your career goals and personality.

Teachers will have a better idea on how you might perform in more challenging coursework. Teachers tend to have more insight about your academic strengths and weaknesses. At times, you may be more hesitant to select a higher-level class, but if your teacher thinks this is a good next step for you, then perhaps you are doubting your capacity to succeed in these courses.

Select IB curriculum subjects that can be used for your extended essay

Have you ever heard of the saying double dipping? We use this phrase a lot in academic spaces to refer to the process of using a class paper to develop or build another project academic manuscript or grant.

We recommend using this strategy for your IB diploma requirements. Select classes that are insightful to develop content for your extended essay. For instance, it might be challenging to write an extended essay, if most of your higher-level courses were in mathematics.

You might also want to select subjects that require more writing than others. This way, you can hone in on your writing skills, get feedback, and learn how to write effectively in time for the extended essay.

Remember that the extended essay is designed to demonstrate your critical thinking skills in a 4,000-word paper. You are expected to show your work as an independent scholar. So, make sure to select subjects that broaden your insights and perspectives to fulfill this requirement.

Pick IB curriculum subjects that are relevant to your personal and professional interests

Pick IB curriculum subjects that are relevant to your personal and professional interests

It is much easier to complete a class that you know serves a purposeful outcome for your career goals than taking a class just to meet a requirement. Intentionality in your subject selection will make a world of a difference!

We strongly recommend that you select courses that cultivate skills that are required for your career or for the college you plan to apply for. For instance, writing might be a very essential skill to strengthen in high school if you plan to attend a rigorous research university.

In addition to skills, we also recommend that you select subjects that reflect your hobbies or interests. For instance, if you are passionate about the arts, then maybe taking higher level classes in this subject would be beneficial to you.

Choose courses that cultivate your interests

IB is a program that is intentionally designed to foster and broaden your skills in applying critiques and in attaining a global understanding of cultures outside of your own. You’ll never know what the turning point for your career interests without might be exploring your options!

Additionally, there may be some students who do not necessarily know what it is they’ve always wanted to learn more about. This is also a time for self-exploration, to find what interests you, and learn about where your passions lie. Better yet, this might be the best time to find what you don’t like!

We recommend that students select courses that also broaden their global understanding of the world. While it may not be a skill that impacts your professional career directly, it is intended to improve your general knowledge.

Interdisciplinary training is a coveted quality of job candidates across several disciplines and fields. This means that employers are actually looking for people who have training in a variety of topics rather than one. Some employers may even perceive someone who has taken several courses in sciences and arts with a broader scope of intellect than just taking sciences alone.

A broader set of courses can also indicate your willingness to learn new concepts and ideas. This is an important asset to your future employers; essentially, they want a candidate who is an active learner and creative thinker.

Choose courses that follow university requirements

This strategy might make your decision-making process quicker and a lot easier! If you know what major you are interested in pursuing, then you can simply look up the qualifications to complete that degree in your college of choice.

After seeing the requirements, tailor your courses to those topics. For instance, several pre-med courses require biology, chemistry and so on. Consider taking IB courses in these subjects at a higher standard level to receive college credit.

In another instance, some colleges may not require higher level courses, but instead accept standard level IB courses. You can save yourself the trouble of completing higher level IB courses if it’s not even necessary for your end goal.

Which IB Courses are Most Popular?

Which IB Courses are Most Popular?

Which IB Courses are Most Popular?

We checked out sources from former IB students on the most popular IB courses. Our list is provided below:

  • Literature A
  • LangLit A
  • History HL
  • Psychology
  • HL Chemistry and Physics
  • HL math

Who Should You Talk to About Choosing IB Subjects?

Who Should You Talk to About Choosing IB Subjects?

This question ties in with the strategies we’ve shared with you on factors that should be considered in your IB course selection. The best people you should talk to about choosing IB subjects are the following


Teachers will know your strengths and weakness, providing you with valid insight into your potential.


Similar to teachers, mentors will also know your personal characteristics. They will recognize whether you have the determination to complete a rigorous IB program or the discipline to study for the higher-level courses and IB exam.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Choose IB Subjects

At this point, we’ve provided you with a range of factors to consider when selecting your IB courses. The most important thing to remember is to strategize how coursework material benefits you, your skills, and your professional career goals. Make sure to use our strategies to help minimize the anxiety when selecting such a wide array of courses in IB curriculum subjects.

If you found this helpful, you’ll love our other high school study tips.

You may also like our other IB related content:

> 25 IB Program Pros and Cons

> The Ultimate IB Classes List

> Is IB Worth It? Your Answers Here

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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