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What exactly is the difference between SL and HL in IB?

maggie20mtmaggie20mt Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
I know that SL stands for Standard Level and HL stands for Higher Level, so essentially HL involves more in-depth intensive classes about the subject course. But, what determines HL? Is it basically just taking certain courses during IB junior and senior year and then taking the IB HL exams for the subject? Are there any additional things that are to be done?

Replies to: What exactly is the difference between SL and HL in IB?

  • svlab112svlab112 Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    At our IB high school, there are some SL classes that are a single year (Psychology, Anthropology). Also at our school , sometimes SL and HL classes are taught during the same class period. However, the HL students will have additional research requirements and curriculum.

    Otherwise I think the IB website (ibo.org) provides a good description:

    "Both SL and HL courses are meant to span the two years of the DP. SL courses are recommended to have at least 150 hours of instructional time, and HL courses are recommended to have at least 240 instructional hours. In most cases both SL and HL courses consist of the same educational aims, core syllabus and curriculum and assessment models. HL courses typically also include a range of additional elements designed to allow students to explore areas of interest within the subject in more depth. In this sense, SL courses are not watered down versions of their HL counterparts."
  • maggie20mtmaggie20mt Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    @svlab112 Thanks for your response! My school has specific course progressions for if you choose to SL/HL in a certain subject. Then, of course, you would have to take the corresponding SL/HL IB Exam. Is this basically it?
  • nw2thisnw2this Registered User Posts: 2,307 Senior Member
    You can take an HL course and still test if SL if you want.
  • svlab112svlab112 Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    edited August 13
    @nw2this @maggie20mt

    I don't know if this is an IB policy or school specific but our students are required to take the IB exam that is related to the course as listed on their transcript.

    For many courses (at least the courses at our school) your final score in a subject is more than just the final test. For example, the test is a portion of the final (1-7) score. However this final score often includes other written or oral components that teachers have already submitted to the IBO prior to your taking the tests. For example some courses have an internal assessments (IA) which are research projects that are sent to the IBO. In English there is an essay and oral component also part of your final score.

    Those components plus your final test make up your final 1-7 score. Unlike AP which is a one test, one score situation. That is why one cannot self study and take the IB tests. In addition the IB tests are often taken over 2 or 3 days.
  • maggie20mtmaggie20mt Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    Are there IAs and/or oral assessments for IB Math HL?
  • maggie20mtmaggie20mt Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
  • svlab112svlab112 Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    @maggie20mt

    My kids had to do an IA (also called it a portfolio paper) for HL math. They did one junior year and one senior year. Their teacher submited the one to IBO that scored higher according to the IB rubric. I'm not sure if IBO actually receives he IA or the teacher reports the IA score. IA worth 20% of final score. Then three exams over 3 days. Exam 1 and 2 each worth 20%. Exam 3 worth 40%. I just checked the schedule from last year. Looks like HL and SL tested at same time and both took Exam 1 and 2. so perhaps the same exam. SL did not take exam 3. Testing dates are set by IBO. You'll also see the exam referred to as "Paper 1", "Paper 2" etc. so it seems, if allowed, conceivably that one could take HL class and test SL. For SL final score, IA worth 20%, exam 1&2 each worth 40%.
  • nw2thisnw2this Registered User Posts: 2,307 Senior Member
    I agree that several components make up your IB score, but HL is usually everything from SL plus other things. So students who decide to test SL from an HL class just do less. I don't think you can do the reverse and take an HL test from an SL course.
  • maggie20mtmaggie20mt Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    @nw2this Wouldn't I just be doing unnecessary extra work if I were to take HL classes, but then test SL?
  • nw2thisnw2this Registered User Posts: 2,307 Senior Member
    edited August 15
    Some IB kids enjoy and desire the extra work.
    My kid took 5 HLclasses because she was at the HL level, but could test only HL in 4,
    For HL math, I've heard of some cases in which the instructor didn't feel the student would pass the HL exam so advised the student to take the SL exam.
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