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HL vs SL: how different are they?

AljubailAljubail Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
I heard that for some subjects the difference between the HL and SL course was huge (where the HL course was much much more demanding and the test was more difficult), while for other subjects the difference between the HL and SL level course was small (so students are better off taking the HL course since they are almost similar).

Which courses have big difference between HL/SL and which courses don't?
Post edited by Aljubail on

Replies to: HL vs SL: how different are they?

  • PhilovitistPhilovitist Registered User Posts: 2,739 Senior Member
    They all do, though some have easier HL versions than they ought to.

    But HL is generally significantly harder.
  • KSAMomKSAMom Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    This is somewhat true, but HL will always have something more - more exam papers, more labs, more chapters/options, more depth, harder rubrics, etc. It really varies by subject & person (in terms of what you find "hard"). The best thing to do is look at the syllabus for the course you are interested in.
  • DeblergDeblerg Registered User Posts: 458 Member
    It depends on the subject, I think.
    In history, for example, the HL kids seem to always have a lot more work.
    Math and the sciences have huge differences in material and exam difficulty.
    In others, the difference is less marked. In my economics class, the HL and SL kids are combined, and the only significant difference is the math, which is pretty easy stuff. In English, the only difference at my school is that HL kids read one extra book. All the assignments are the same, but the rubric differs slightly for HL kids.
  • PhilovitistPhilovitist Registered User Posts: 2,739 Senior Member
    The final exam for HL courses is usually a bit longer and often a bit harder.
  • 2PathsMom2PathsMom Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    HL Biology is very challenging at my child's school. So is French and German. But I think in those last two programs the difficulty is with the teacher being a harsh grader. HL and SL English are both hard. Spanish is easy ,both SL and HL. History is sane. It all depends on the teacher. The teachers who are European are more challenging than the American teachers. I think it is due to a different understanding of US college admissions. One of the non-US teachers thought that a C was a good grade!
  • KSAMomKSAMom Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    We are running into a problem with this at my daughter's school. The teachers are now doing a first round of IB predicted grades. Some teachers think she should be "lucky" to get a 4-5, when she's been consistently getting 6-7 on internal assessments (primarily based on IB past papers). They are reluctant to predict higher because "the IB exams are tough." The school is fairly new to IB (3 diploma classes have graduated) and the teachers come from a variety of backgrounds. A lot of this is individualized to the teacher.

    When reporting predicted grades now to university, it looks really bad to have an outstanding transcript & high GPA but with low-balled predicted grades. I imagine it looks to an admissions officer that either the school is not rigorous, or that the student is slacking off.
  • 2kidsnoanswers2kidsnoanswers Registered User Posts: 555 Member
    KSAMom, it did sound that your school is new to the IB and being cautious. Have you brought your concerns to the school?
  • KSAMomKSAMom Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    Thanks - yes... The principal is more familiar with IB (from past experience at other schools) and she is reviewing the predicted grades. But she also told me that universities understand that schools' predictions are to be taken with a grain of salt. I hope that's true - but then what's the point?
This discussion has been closed.