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What Is The Difference Between AI And AA In IB Math?


  • Every 7 years IB evaluates its subjects and course content and makes changes to keep the topic relevant.
  • IB Math is one of the most difficult of subjects, but the break up into Pure Math (Analysis & Approaches) and Applied Math (Applications & Interpretations) makes it easier to find the Math course that is right for you.


  • Analysis & Approaches (AA) Math focuses on the theory. The aim is to give students the ability to analyze abstract math theories that are the basis of all calculations.
  • Applications & Interpretations (AI) Math is about the practical use of mathematical concepts in the real world – statistics and distribution are important components of the course.


  • There are some common topics for AA and AI which are covered in the first 60 hours of the course.
  • The difference is in the teaching approach – A student of Math AA will receive teaching focused on the theory and a student of Math AI will be taught with a focus on implementation.


  • Within both AI and AA there are 2 levels from which a student may choose.
  • The Standard Level (SL) demands 150 hours of learning and the Higher Level (HL) requires 240 hours.


  • The SL for both modules has 2 written examinations and the HL for both modules has 3 written papers.
  • AI examinations require the use of a calculator so you need to comfortable with using one and not doing calculations manually -it will take too long.
  • For AA there is one examination where the use of a calculator is not permitted.


  • If Math is one of your strong subjects, HL may be right for you.
  • If you are not comfortable with higher-level Math, then SL will be the right option.


  • If you are uncertain about which module to choose, and if your school permits a module change, consider opting for HL.
  • Because the initial stages of HL and SL are similar, dropping down to SL if HL is too much will not be a problem.


  • It is essential to know your future academic and career path to be able to choose the right module.
  • Those wanting to enter mathematics oriented professions like engineering, machine learning, data science, etc. will find AA will give them the tools they need.
  • Those looking at professions where the application of math is more important than the theory like economics, management and so on will find that AI is right for them.


  • If your future career path is still uncertain, then you need to look at your attitude toward mathematics to help you decide.
  • If you enjoy math and are fascinated by the “why” behind the theories, then AA is for you.
  • If you want to learn how to use math, not the theory behind it, then opt for AI.


  • The learning support and coaching you receive from an expert online tuition for IB will help you make the right choice.
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