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The Hardest HLs

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At ISB, those taking the IB diploma program are required to take at least three HLs in order to complete the full requirement. There are many debates over which HLs are the most challenging academically. Could it be the languages, in which you have to completely switch over from a language you have known your entire life? Could it be the sciences, in which you have to learn to look at the world from a microscopic perspective? Or could it be the English classes, in which you will read and annotate countless books?

For this article, six anonymous students were interviewed to give their perspective on what they believe are the hardest HLs.

Student A states, “my hardest HL that I take this year is definitely chemistry. Learning to look at the world on a microscopic level as well as relate completely unrelated topics, all whilst memorizing dozens of pages of functional groups, equations, coloured complexes, and etc. I think it forces you to completely change your way of thinking.”

Student D agrees, saying, “I think my hardest HL would be HL chemistry because of the theory and the application needed. It is the class I spend the most time on and also it is the most time consuming class. When you are learning other classes, it is sometimes easy for you to make more connections because you can see more examples of it in real life. But in chemistry, you can not visualize things on a molecular level.”

As for the other sciences, such as sports science and psychology, student E speaks for them, saying, “My hardest HL’s would probably be sports science and psychology. Sports science throws a lot of very specific content at you very fast, and it is nothing like any other science; it really is a completely new subject matter like I have never done before. Psychology, similarly, it is one of the other completely that, prior to IB, we never learned. You also have to learn very quickly to write in an entirely new way of writing, along with memorizing tons of different specific studies and theories.”

However, both student A and D give props to the english classes. Student A states, “although I think the content for classes such as HL math, chemistry, physics, and biology is the hardest, I would say that in terms of getting a seven it would be the english and history classes; the ones which require a lot of writing, as answers are never clear cut.” Student D states, “subjects that include writing are perceptive and hard to perfect.”

It seems that they are not the only ones with this mindset, as student C wholeheartedly agrees, saying, “It really depends on how you look at challenging. If by how generally hard a class is, then probably either Math HL or physics/chem HL, as those classes have challenging content. However, if you are looking at how hard it is to get top marks or a seven in the class, then I would definitely say history. No matter how hard you work, you will rarely get a 7 as it is mostly essay writing and you would need to seriously refine your writing skills to consistently get high marks.”

As for the language classes? Although not very many people take language HL classes, student B thinks that this is probably because it is too difficult to take. “Looking at the mandarin HL class, almost no one takes it,” student B states, “Because it is basically an HL english class in mandarin. It is crazy hard, to the point where it is one of those HLs that rarely anyone will even attempt.”

Although each HL has different levels of writing, comprehension, and memorizing, it is obvious that they all require high levels of motivation and determination. Every HL is completely different and the content learned in every class will be difficult. The IB curriculum is incredibly rigorous and all those who have decided to take three HLs for the hardest school program in the world should be applauded for their efforts, regardless of how others perceive their class.

 

Darin Sumetanon

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