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

IB Math: AA or AI


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.

Also Read: What Is Middle Years Program (MYP) In International Baccalaureate (IB)?


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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