Mathematics can be seen as a well-defined body of knowledge, as an abstract system of ideas, or as a useful tool. For many people it is probably a combination of these, but there is no doubt that mathematical knowledge provides an important key to understanding the world in which we live.  

Mathematics can enter our lives in a number of ways: we buy produce in the market, consult a timetable, read a newspaper, time a process or estimate a length. Mathematics, for most of us, also extends into our chosen profession: visual artists need to learn about perspective; musicians need to appreciate the mathematical relationships within and between different rhythms; economists need to recognise trends in financial dealings; and engineers need to take account of stress patterns in physical materials. Scientists view mathematics as a language that is central to our understanding of events that occur in the natural world. Some people enjoy the challenges offered by the logical methods of mathematics and the adventure in reason that mathematical proof has to offer. Others appreciate mathematics as an aesthetic experience or even as a cornerstone of philosophy.  

This prevalence of mathematics in our lives, with all its interdisciplinary connections, provides a clear and sufficient rationale for making the study of this subject compulsory for students studying the full diploma. 

Choosing the right course 

There are two mathematics courses on offer in the Sixth Form both at Higher and Standard Level. Sometimes students find it difficult to choose the right course for them. The guidance below is based on our experience of teaching the IB for over 10 years at Tonbridge Grammar School. If you are not sure, talk to our Mathematics Team.  

Applications and Interpretation 

Higher Level: I love the applications of Mathematics, how it is used in the real world and other subject areas, and have an 8 or 9 at GCSE (Economics, Computer Science courses at University)

Standard Level: I have no idea, but want to make sure that I get the highest point score possible (All other courses at University)

Analysis and Approaches 

Higher Level: I love algebra and abstract Mathematics and have an 8 or 9 at GCSE. (Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, some Economics courses at University)

Standard Level: I have no idea, but I am doing Physics, Chemistry, Economics or Computer Science at HL and might want to pursue that in the future (Some Chemistry courses, some Computer Science courses, some Engineering courses  at University)

University study 

It is important to look to future study when choosing your Mathematics course. The table below looks at further study in general terms – there will be variation to entry requirements between the universities. It is important that you do some research, especially if you have your heart set on a particular course. If you are not sure, talk to our Sixth Form or Mathematics Team.  

Medicine/Dentistry/Veterinary Science: 

  • Standard Level Applications and Interpretations is acceptable for most courses, but some might require Standard Level Analysis and Approaches