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Tips from college and university admissions officers for DP mathematics choices

How can you provide the best guidance to high school students who are choosing their Diploma Programme (DP) mathematics courses and help them understand how their choice can relate to their pathway to college and university?

Universities are starting to talk publicly about the decisions they are making around their recognition for the new DP mathematics courses. You can check their websites for specifics but here are some of the recommendations they are starting to share.

1. It’s important that students pursue the classes and activities that align with their interests and what they intend to study in their higher education. A student who wants to pursue a career in a STEM field would be advised to take either of the higher level (HL) DP mathematics courses: Mathematics: applications and interpretation or Mathematics: analysis and approaches.

2. At highly selective universities, admissions departments are looking for students to take mathematics courses that support their intended field(s) of study. For example, students interested in engineering, physical sciences, and economics should take either of the higher level (HL) DP mathematics course. Students interested specifically in pure mathematics should take the DP Mathematics: analysis and approaches course. Alternatively, students interested in social sciences, natural sciences, business, psychology and design should take the Mathematics: applications and interpretation course.

3. A student with strong performance in either of the higher level (HL) DP mathematics courses and who wants to study a subject that does not traditionally include mathematics such as music or linguistics, is going to demonstrate transferable skills and have an impressive transcript demonstrating a breadth of capabilities.

4. For students who are unsure of what they want to study during their post-secondary education, it’s best to take the mathematics course that interests them, is both the most challenging to them personally and in which they can perform well, whether that’s a standard level (SL) course or a higher level (HL) course. Students want to be challenged and perform well while also being comfortable and confident with the level of mathematics they are learning. As a compulsory element of the DP, it’s important that all students feel confident in the type of mathematics and level they choose and that all achievements are celebrated.

Read this post for a reminder of the changes to the new course, we’ve updated the post with a chart of topics and associated hours.

The points above are taken from feedback from universities. From a recent webinar organized by the IB and the International Association for College Admission Counseling, hear from representatives from US universities Brown and UCLA, UK universities King’s College London, and the University of Sussex, and from the University of Toronto in Canada.