Which IB Subjects Should I Take If I Want to Go to Medical School?

Confused about which IB subjects to choose for a medical degree? We have you covered. Read on to learn what the IB board is, what courses they provide, and which IB is required for the MD degree.

IBDP, or International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, is a two-year curriculum for 11th and 12th graders. This IB board allows pupils to select six to seven subjects; three to four at the higher level (HL) and three at the standard level (SL). The students study their HL courses for 240 hours and their SL subjects for 150 hours, integrating a wide education with in-depth study.

As a result of IB’s carefully crafted curriculum for the required topic, many students register in IB courses to study medicine in higher education. When the student selects the appropriate courses,

It provides them the advantage for two reasons:

  • Depending on the level they select, they are permitted to transfer college credit from the IB course. 
  • The IB curriculum teaches them basic college-level ideas, easing the transition from high school to university.

Occasionally, university requirements regarding required courses differ. Therefore, it is advisable to conduct study prior to determining which courses will allow you to transfer college credit.

IB allows students to choose six studies from six different subject groupings.

The following are:

  • Group 1: Language and Literature Studies
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies Make Up 
  • Group 4:  The Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: Arts 

The table below shows the subject breakdowns from each of the groups: 

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6
Language A: Literature Language B Business and Management Biology Mathematical Studies Music
Language A: Literature and Language Language AB Initio Economics Chemistry Further Mathematics Theatre
Literature and Performance Classical Languages Geography Physics Mathematics (SL/HL) Visual Arts
History Computer Science Dance
Information Technology in a global Society Design Technology Film
Philosophy Environmental Systems and Societies Literature and performance
Psychology Sports, Exercise and Health Science
Social and Cultural Anthropology
World Religions
Environmental Systems and societies

Depending on your school, you may be able to choose one or more subjects from the same group. For example, if you do not wish to select a subject from Group 6, you may select a subject from Groups 1 through 5. Regarding medicine, you may be required to take a minimum of two sciences, with the remainder according to your interests.

In addition, many universities demand that you study Biology and Chemistry. Since these are two main disciplines you will continue to study in your higher education (medical), attending these IB courses/subjects would offer you a conceptual head start.

Universities may also ask you to take Mathematics and/or Physics for the alternative subject option. However, neither of these are extensively researched in medicine. Choose your IB subjects judiciously based on your strengths. Consider taking math as one of your classes if you believe you excel in this area. Similarly, for any other topics that pique your interest.

Let’s begin by delving deeper into the Group 4 topics. Sciences. The sciences are taught from both a practical and theoretical perspective. Students can develop investigations, acquire primary data using the laboratory, analyse experiment/investigation outcomes, and assess their findings in collaboration with classmates. Experiments may be conducted in a laboratory or by means of simulations and existing datasets.

Recalling the six subjects that Group 4 comprises:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Computer Science 
  • Design Technology 
  • Sports, Exercise, and Health Science

If you intend to follow medical at the university level, you must take these 2 subjects: Chemistry and Biology at the advanced level in IB. Other subjects may be taken at either a regular or advanced level.

However, Group 3 disciplines such as Psychology can be an excellent supplement to your subject selections, as they are somewhat related to biology.

However, if that is not your forte, you should avoid choosing a subject in which you may not perform well, as institutions consider your entire IB score. Regarding mathematics, it is usually preferable to choose the subject for broad understanding, even if you do not intend to study it in depth.

For this reason, and if you dislike mathematics, it is preferable to choose Math SL over HL, as the HL curriculum is far more challenging and time-consuming. Therefore, it would divert your attention from issues that require greater concentration.

Overall, you would be required to enrol in Chemistry HL, Biology HL, Mathematics SL, Psychology (optional), and English SL. The remaining subjects are entirely determined by what you find fascinating and what you enjoy studying. Ultimately, you must be able to perform well on your examination.

Therefore, be sure to carefully select your topics from the list provided by your institution.

Best wishes for the two years that lie ahead!


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