My IB Choices - Should I take Eng Lit HL (and 4 HLs)? Watch

Harry Xu
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Hi guys,

I am currently at the end of Y11 and I've just finished (well 1 left) all my IGCSE tests. I've already filled in my courses, but I've read through the forums here and I was wondering if I should change them?

I want to pursue a business degree so currently I'm going for:

Maths HL
Economics HL
Chemistry HL

English Lit SL
Chinese A Lang and Lit SL
Music SL

On the forum, some users say that English Lit HL is really enjoyable, and it is not much harder than English Lit SL. A few weeks ago, I finished my World Lit IGCSE Exam and I think I'm definitely going to get an A*. However, my IGCSE First English language is not as strong (A), but I don't think that will influence Lit that much.

My question is - should I push up English Lit to HL, and try 4 HLs? Is the transition from IGCSE / GCSE Lit to IB HL Lit really big?

Also, for anyone that takes Chinese A, is it really hard (apparently it's even hard to get a 6)?

Thanks in advance
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shieldtheclouds
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Hi Harry,

Firstly, congrats on finishing your GCSE exams! I'm sure they went swimmingly

To answer your query, I've taken 4 HLs this year, and I just so happen to be waiting for my exam results later tonight. Your subjects choices really depend on what you want to do in the future, therefore, your HLs should only be the subjects that truly matter when you finally come to applying for university (assuming that is the path you're choosing in the future). As you probably know from fellow students at school and on other forums on TSR, IB is a gruelling two year course - you run out of time for different assessments and deadlines are all crammed together etc etc. My advice is that unless you REALLY want to do one of your SL choices at HL, don't put any more unecessary work on yourself.

I took 4 HLs (English Lit, History, Geography, and Chinese B) because I didn't know what course I wanted to pursue at university back in Y11, so I just chose the ones I was good at . I ended up applying for a combined course in English Lit and History, which meant that Geography HL was essentially redundant towards my final application. I don't regret my decision at all, Geography ended up being one of among my strongest HLs, but I did find myself more stressed than my fellow students when it came to submitting final assessments as I always had more work to do. I used to think that taking 4 HLs would also give me an edge above other university applicants... not really. It sounds good in person and you have more leeway when it comes to meeting your HL requirements, but you can get just as far with 3 HLs and a good personal statement, so theres not that much of an advantage.

Having done HL English Lit, here are the differences between SL and HL. Both courses are identical but at HL, you obviously has more content to learn. English Paper 1 is also an Unseen Paper at IB, only SL has guiding questions and less time like GCSE, whereas HL has no guiding questions and more time. Having no guiding questions at HL is liberating - you get to write and analyse whatever you want without being bound to the predetermined opinions that the questions provide at SL. On the flip side, having guiding questions means that half of the analysis has already been done for you, making the jump from GCSE to SL Lit even smaller. The jump between GCSE lit to HL Lit isn't very big, but like all subjects, don't expect to be doing amazingly well for all your subjects in the first test. You just can't slack off during the reading/analysis if you want to get a 6 or a 7 in the end.

SL Chinese A is hard. You're doing the SL English Lang Lit course but in Chinese. We had numerous first-language Chinese students drop to HL B in Y12 because the course was too difficult to maintain alongside other IB related workloads. In an ideal world, getting a level 7 in any subject is achievable if you spend enough time learning and preparing for it, but as I mentioned before, IB is gruelling and most people end up prioritising some subjects over others, hence the subject changes.

Overall, my advice is not to do more than the bare minimum when it comes to subject choices. I would only consider taking 4 HLs if you genuinely think that you want to study one extra subject at HL becuase you enjoy it. 3 HLs and 3 SLs is hard enough as is, so why do more? If you're still stuck, I'd say look into some potential business university courses and see what their IB requirements are; some unis don't require Maths HL! And even if you don't enjoy the courses you've picked when you have started IB, it's not too late to switch courses even then.

Good luck!
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Harry Xu
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(Original post by shieldtheclouds)
Hi Harry,

Firstly, congrats on finishing your GCSE exams! I'm sure they went swimmingly

To answer your query, I've taken 4 HLs this year, and I just so happen to be waiting for my exam results later tonight. Your subjects choices really depend on what you want to do in the future, therefore, your HLs should only be the subjects that truly matter when you finally come to applying for university (assuming that is the path you're choosing in the future). As you probably know from fellow students at school and on other forums on TSR, IB is a gruelling two year course - you run out of time for different assessments and deadlines are all crammed together etc etc. My advice is that unless you REALLY want to do one of your SL choices at HL, don't put any more unecessary work on yourself.

I took 4 HLs (English Lit, History, Geography, and Chinese B) because I didn't know what course I wanted to pursue at university back in Y11, so I just chose the ones I was good at . I ended up applying for a combined course in English Lit and History, which meant that Geography HL was essentially redundant towards my final application. I don't regret my decision at all, Geography ended up being one of among my strongest HLs, but I did find myself more stressed than my fellow students when it came to submitting final assessments as I always had more work to do. I used to think that taking 4 HLs would also give me an edge above other university applicants... not really. It sounds good in person and you have more leeway when it comes to meeting your HL requirements, but you can get just as far with 3 HLs and a good personal statement, so theres not that much of an advantage.

Having done HL English Lit, here are the differences between SL and HL. Both courses are identical but at HL, you obviously has more content to learn. English Paper 1 is also an Unseen Paper at IB, only SL has guiding questions and less time like GCSE, whereas HL has no guiding questions and more time. Having no guiding questions at HL is liberating - you get to write and analyse whatever you want without being bound to the predetermined opinions that the questions provide at SL. On the flip side, having guiding questions means that half of the analysis has already been done for you, making the jump from GCSE to SL Lit even smaller. The jump between GCSE lit to HL Lit isn't very big, but like all subjects, don't expect to be doing amazingly well for all your subjects in the first test. You just can't slack off during the reading/analysis if you want to get a 6 or a 7 in the end.

SL Chinese A is hard. You're doing the SL English Lang Lit course but in Chinese. We had numerous first-language Chinese students drop to HL B in Y12 because the course was too difficult to maintain alongside other IB related workloads. In an ideal world, getting a level 7 in any subject is achievable if you spend enough time learning and preparing for it, but as I mentioned before, IB is gruelling and most people end up prioritising some subjects over others, hence the subject changes.

Overall, my advice is not to do more than the bare minimum when it comes to subject choices. I would only consider taking 4 HLs if you genuinely think that you want to study one extra subject at HL becuase you enjoy it. 3 HLs and 3 SLs is hard enough as is, so why do more? If you're still stuck, I'd say look into some potential business university courses and see what their IB requirements are; some unis don't require Maths HL! And even if you don't enjoy the courses you've picked when you have started IB, it's not too late to switch courses even then.

Good luck!
Hello,

Thanks so much for your detailed response! I'm probably sticking with Eng Lit SL I don't want to add any extra workload to myself

I hope you did as well as you hoped! I know IB is hard, but my teachers told me I'm fine (at least for my HLs).

I'm not allowed to take Chinese B (school regulations) because apparently "I'm too good" despite me being at the bottom of the class in Chinese First Language at IGCSE, and I'm still predicted an A*... Our results are out in 1 month, although they don't really matter.

I'm definitely doing Maths HL because SL is a waste of time for me, and I like maths. Chinese B HL though... Apparently it's really easy.

Thanks again for your insight! Hope you got a good score

Harry
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shieldtheclouds
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Just got them. I'm going to my first choice uni!

Same here with the Chinese thing. I couldn't drop to SL Chinese B because I was "too good" for it. I wouldn't say that HL B is easy though unless you're a very confident first language speaker. The grade boundaries are fairly high :P

Thanks!

Bonnie
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Harry Xu
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(Original post by shieldtheclouds)
Just got them. I'm going to my first choice uni!

Same here with the Chinese thing. I couldn't drop to SL Chinese B because I was "too good" for it. I wouldn't say that HL B is easy though unless you're a very confident first language speaker. The grade boundaries are fairly high :P

Thanks!

Bonnie
Great to hear! Kudos to you
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