6 Important Questions For Choosing IB Subjects

This Article Help IB Students Decide Their HLs and SLs In The IB Program By Giving Them 6 Important Questions. Read This Article To Choose The Best Subject Combination For Yourself To Do The IB Program

13 OCT 2021
choosing ib subjects

So you have decided to do the IB Diploma. I am assuming that you must be familiar with all the benefits that the IB Program offers its students. By now, you must be convinced that IBDP is going to be worth the effort and you must be excited to choose your subjects. How to choose IB subjects? That is a question asked by every IB students who is about to embark on his IB journey. This article gives you 7 questions that walk you through the process of narrowing down the six subjects you should take.

Mind you that these pointers are not just some wishy-washy suggestions but a proven method of identifying the subjects which will help you reap the best out of IB Diploma:


  1. What Is The Most Crucial Decision That You Have Made For Yourself

  2. What Is The Feeling You Hate The Most

  3. What Is Something That You Have Found Rewarding

  4. What Is It That You Like Studying

  5. What Is Your Study Style

  6. What Does Your Teacher Say

  7. How To Choose IB Subjects Afterall?


Oh! Before you go on reading this article, make sure to check out this video to avoid the mistakes that people make while choosing their IB subjects.

What Is The Most Crucial Decision That You Have Made For Yourself

It is often best to look at your past experiences when deciding for the future. The same principle can be applied as you choose your IB subjects. This question is perhaps the most important one and will help you put on your thinking hat. Reflect upon the most crucial decision that you have made academically. Did you decide to attend a rigorous course for your middle school (like IGCSE) or did you not bother too much with the curriculum? While neither of the two has any hierarchal value attached, evaluating the most crucial academic decision of your recent past helps you understand your natural inclination and the ideal pathway for the future.


Having said that, one also needs to consider that priorities change as time goes by. Your past decision should be a mere aspect while factoring in your decision to choose your subjects. It is only to give you a hint about the academic endeavours in which you want to embark. Asking this question will also help you highlight if you are biased towards becoming an athlete, forging a  creative career, or conquering the corporate world? Look for clues where you have given priority to one thing over the other. For instance, look in your past and see if you were willing to skip multiple classes to attend sports meet or were you more excited about debate night than your homecoming? 

What Is The Feeling You Hate The Most

This one is rather straight forward. Ask yourself the feeling that you dread the most. This could include the likes of attending a math lecture or perhaps analysing a poem by Willian Fancywords. Think about the lectures in middle school that you absolutely did not look forward to. This will help you identify the subjects to drop or at least opt as for your Standard Levels (SL). Trust me, the last thing you want to do is specialising in a subject you hate studying! However, you should be aware of the origin of this feeling of resentment. Did you despise the subject itself or was it something to do with the lecturer. It is not uncommon for middle school students to not be fond of a particular subject simply because they do not vibe with the professor teaching that subject.

What Is Something That You Have Found Rewarding

Following up after the question mentioned above, if you indeed did not like attending a lecture because of its professor, then you would want to consider how rewarding it was for you to do well in that subject. This will help you analyse your affinity towards that subject. Let us take the example of Mathematics. Most people find it challenging to wrap their heads around the complex mathematical concepts. Yet some find it rewarding when they can crack the code and understand that which took them a lot of time, effort and brainstorming. The subject then becomes a challenge. It might be ideal to choose your challenging subjects for your Higher Levels (HL), provide you have the right motivation for the challenges that they will pose. 

What Is It That You Like Studying

Ah. This question is an easy one. Every student has one subject that they find interesting. It is the one that they enjoy studying the most. Even in their free time, they do not mind reading more about it. They might often find themselves ruminating about what they learned in that particular subject. Identifying your subject in such a manner will also help you narrow down your HLs. For example, if your favourite subject happens to be Economics, then only should you take Economics as one of your HLs but you can also take Business Management HL to complement your interest. Similarly, if your are interested in Visual Art and would also want to opt for another HL that enhances your craftsmanship and creative knowledge, then you may also want to take Design Technology as one of your other HLs.


Your favourite subject should be the one in which you should write your Extended Essay (EE). Doing your EE in your favourite subject will not only allow you to do in-depth research in that subject but will also let you pick up a major related to that subject for your university. On the flip side, studying that subject intensively for two years will help you judge if you genuinely like it. Maybe after doing in-depth research in your ‘ favourite subject’ you conclude that it is not something that holds your interest. It will save you from pursuing it in the future! Either way, it will give you a good insight about your academic self.

What Is Your Study Style

This is a particularly important one. You need to notice if your brain is inclined toward theoretical learning or logical reasoning. For instance, do you prefer understanding and memorising the concepts of whatever it is that you are studying or are you more interested in deducing the essence of a specific topic and reaching the gist of it logically? This nuanced difference will make you familiar with your studying practices. It will also help you decide upon the subjects which you are most likely to enjoy. For instance, if you are the type of student who likes to understand and memorise then perhaps opting for History HL and Mathematics SL will be the way for you. However, if you are enjoying deducing the essence of what you are studying, then you may want to consider taking Physics and Maths as yours HLs. 

What Does Your Teacher Say

This is an infamous point and thus, the last one to be addressed. Although the decision of narrowing down your IB subjects should be a decision of yours alone, it would be nice to take the suggestions from the teachers who have taught you before. Doing so will help you evade your delusional self. Often it happens that students do not understand what the course structure of IB is like and assume that their skillset is fit for a specific IB subject combination when, in fact, it is not. Consulting with a teacher who has taught you before will help you avoid making this mistake. Ideally, that teacher should be familiar with the IB curriculum. If not, even then sitting down with someone who knows your academic strengths and weaknesses will put you on track for choosing the right IB subjects! 

How To Choose IB Subjects Afterall?

Stuff like 'go with your guts' or 'take-up subjects that you like studying' are vague suggestions which don't really help. Let's face it, one doesn't even have the slightest clue how a subject will turn out to be before actually start studying it. Many students end up resenting the subjects they initially thought they would love. Choosing IB subject should be a subtle combination of what piques your interests but also challenges you in the right way. An ideal subject would be the one about which you have some fair knowledge and would like to learn more about it. The subject should also be tough enough to make you work for it instead of being a breeze in which case you will totally lose interest and only study a week prior to the exams.


One fun trick in narrowing down the subject list and understanding how to choose IB subjects is to close your eyes, take a deep breath and speak out the first subject which crosses your mind. Do this until your list has at least 12 subjects. This will be one of the initial steps in your journey of answering how to choose IB subjects. Once you have your list prepared you must confide in your trusted ones who know you inside out and would better guide you in choosing your IB subjects. Do note that to do the above-mentioned activity you must have a fair idea of what to expect from various IB subjects. 

As you go through the IB Diploma, you will need to do mandatory projects like writing your Extended Essay and doing your ToK Presentation. To ace all your IB projects, Nail IB provides you with the best resources. Here’s to hoping that you will make Nail IB your virtual hustle partner and sail through the IB Program. Good Luck in choosing your IB Subjects!



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