IB Subject Choices: A 2024 Guide For Subject Combinations

by Ignite Training Institute

Navigating through the myriad of options in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program can be both exciting and overwhelming. As students gear up to embark on their IB journey in 2024, selecting the right combination of subjects becomes paramount. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of IB subject choices, providing insights and recommendations to help students.

This will help students craft a well-rounded curriculum tailored to their interests, strengths, and future aspirations. Whether you’re aiming for a balanced selection or focusing on specific disciplines, this guide will serve as your roadmap to designing a fulfilling IB experience.

Moreover, Ignite Training Institute offers comprehensive tutoring support for IBDP & MYP in Dubai. Our comprehensive tutoring services cater to both aspects ensuring students receive personalized guidance and assistance to excel in their studies.

Overview Of The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is a globally recognized academic programme designed for students aged 16 to 19 years old. The programme is known for its rigorous academic standards, innovative teaching methodologies, and emphasis on developing well-rounded students. 

Apart from the 6 subject groups, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) consists of three core elements that complement and extend the six subject groups. The three core elements are the Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay (EE), and Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS).

The IB Diploma Programme is offered by a network of over 7,000 schools in more than 150 countries, making it one of the most widely recognized and respected academic programmes in the world. 

The IB Diploma Programme is designed to provide students with a comprehensive and challenging education that prepares them for success in higher education and beyond. The programme emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills, research skills, and independent learning. Students who complete the programme are well-prepared to succeed in university and beyond.

Related: IB Program Pros & Cons: 10 Facts You Must Know

IBDP Subjects List: 6 Subject Groups

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme consists of six subject groups that students must study in order to earn the IB Diploma. These six subject groups are designed to provide students with a well-rounded and comprehensive education that includes a wide range of academic disciplines.

1. Language & Literature

The first subject group is Language and Literature, which includes the study of a student’s first language and literature. Students are required to develop their language skills through the analysis of literary texts and the production of their own written and spoken work. 

  • Language A: literature
  • Language A: language and literature
  • Literature and performance

2. Language Acquisition

The second subject group is Language Acquisition, which includes the study of a second language. Students are required to develop their language skills in a practical context, such as through conversational practice and the study of literature and culture in the target language.

  • Classical languages
  • Language Ab initio
  • Language B

3. Individuals & Societies

The third subject group is Individuals and Societies, which includes the study of humanities and social sciences. This subject group includes disciplines such as history, economics, psychology, and anthropology. 

  • Business management
  • Digital society
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Global politics
  • History
  • Language and culture*
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Social and cultural anthropology
  • World religions

4. Sciences

The fourth subject group is Sciences, which includes the study of biology, chemistry, physics, and other natural sciences. Students are required to develop their analytical and experimental skills through laboratory work and data analysis.

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Design technology
  • Environmental systems and societies
  • Physics
  • Sports, exercise and health science

5. Mathematics

The fifth subject group is Mathematics, which includes the study of mathematical concepts and methods. Students are required to develop their problem-solving skills and ability to reason logically. 

  • Analysis and approaches
  • Applications and interpretation

6. Arts

The sixth and final subject group is Arts, which includes the study of music, theatre, visual arts, and other creative disciplines. Students are required to develop their creativity and critical thinking skills through the production and analysis of artistic works.

  • Dance
  • Film
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual arts

Related: 30 Engaging IB CAS Ideas For IB Diploma Students

How Many IB Subjects To Choose? 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme requires students to choose six subjects in total, with one subject from each of the six IB subject groups. This provides students with a well-rounded and balanced education that covers a wide range of academic disciplines.

In addition to the six subjects, students are also required to complete the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, which explores the nature of knowledge across different disciplines, and the Extended Essay (EE), which is a research paper on a topic of the student’s choice.

While students must choose one subject from each of the six subject groups, they can choose to study a subject at either a higher level (HL) or standard level (SL), depending on their interests and abilities. HL subjects are more in-depth and require more time and effort than SL subjects, but they also provide students with a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

When choosing their six IB subjects, students should consider their academic strengths and interests, as well as their future goals and university requirements. It’s important to choose a combination of subjects that provides a balanced education and prepares students for their desired university courses and career paths.

Related: 10 IB Learner Profile Attributes Shaping Your Future

How To Choose IB Subjects?

Choosing IB subjects can be a daunting task for students, as it requires careful consideration of their academic interests, future goals, and strengths. Here are some steps that can help students choose IB subjects that are best suited to their individual needs:

1. Identify Your Academic Strengths & Interests: Start by identifying the subjects you enjoy studying and excel in. Consider your past academic performance and the subjects that have always intrigued you. This will help you narrow down your choices and identify the subjects that you are most passionate about.

2. Consider Your Future Goals: Think about the career path you would like to pursue after completing your IB Diploma. Research the university courses and programs that are relevant to your desired career path, and identify the IB subjects that will best prepare you for those courses.

3. Seek Guidance From Your Teachers & Counselors: Consult with your teachers and counselors for advice on choosing the right combination of subjects. They can offer valuable insights into the academic requirements of different subjects and how they relate to your future goals.

4. Be Aware Of The IB Subject Group Requirements: Keep in mind the six subject groups of the IB Diploma Programme and ensure that you have a well-rounded selection of subjects from each group. This will provide you with a balanced education that covers a wide range of academic disciplines.

6. Consider The Workload & Balance Your Choices: Choose a combination of subjects that is challenging but manageable. Consider the workload of each subject and how you can balance your workload with extracurricular activities and other commitments.

Related: 10 Tips On How To Get Good Grades In IB Curriculum Exams

IB Subject Choices: What Are The Best IB Subject Combinations?

Determining the best IB subject combinations involves considering various factors, including your academic strengths, interests, future goals, and university or career aspirations. While there isn’t a definitive list of “best” combinations, certain combinations may be advantageous for specific pathways. 

Here are some considerations to help you choose the right IB subject combination:

1. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Focus:

  • Mathematics HL: Provides a strong foundation for STEM-related fields and is often a prerequisite for university programs in engineering, mathematics, physics, and computer science.
  • Physics HL or Chemistry HL/Biology HL: These subjects complement Mathematics HL and are essential for students interested in pursuing careers in engineering, medicine, or the natural sciences.
  • A third science subject or a related course such as Computer Science HL can further strengthen your STEM-focused profile.
  • English Literature SL or Language and Literature SL: ensures a well-rounded education, fostering linguistic proficiency and cultural awareness alongside scientific expertise.

2. Humanities & Social Sciences Focus:

  • English Literature HL or Language and Literature HL: These subjects develop critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills, which are valuable in humanities and social science disciplines.
  • History HL or Economics HL: Both subjects provide insight into human behavior, societal structures, and historical events, preparing students for university programs in history, economics, political science, or international relations.
  • A language acquisition subject, such as Spanish or French SL, can enhance cultural awareness and language proficiency, which is beneficial for global careers or international studies.

3. Multidisciplinary Approach:

  • A balanced combination of subjects from different categories can provide a well-rounded education and keep your options open for various university majors or career paths.
  • For example, you might choose a combination like Mathematics HL, Biology SL, Economics HL, English Literature SL, Visual Arts HL, and a second language SL. This combination offers a blend of STEM, humanities, and arts subjects, catering to diverse interests and strengths.

4. Language Proficiency & Internationalism:

  • If you’re fluent in multiple languages or interested in language acquisition, consider taking Language A (your native language) and Language B (a second language) at HL or SL.
  • Pairing language subjects with Individuals and Societal subjects like History or Geography can deepen your understanding of cultural, historical, and geopolitical contexts, fostering a global perspective.

5. Arts & Creativity:

  • Visual Arts HL or Theatre HL: Ideal for students passionate about the arts, design, or performing arts, these subjects allow for creative expression and development of artistic skills.
  • Pairing an arts subject with complementary subjects like English Literature, History of Art, or Psychology can provide a well-rounded perspective and enrich your understanding of cultural and societal influences on the arts.

6. Business & Management Focus:

  • Opt for either Mathematics HL or Mathematics SL to build essential quantitative skills crucial for analyzing business data. Business Management HL forms the core of the curriculum, offering insights into organizational structures and management principles.
  • Choose Economics HL for a deep understanding of economic theories or Psychology HL for insights into human behavior, both essential for navigating the complexities of the business world. 
  • Language and Literature SL enhances communication skills, while Sciences SL offers a different perspective useful for problem-solving in business contexts.
  • Language Acquisition SL in a second language like Mandarin or German fosters cross-cultural communication skills, vital for success in the increasingly interconnected global marketplace. 

Ultimately, the best IB subject combinations are those that align with your interests, strengths, and long-term goals. Consider consulting with teachers, academic advisors, or IB coordinators for personalized guidance and recommendations based on your individual profile and aspirations.

Related: IB Grades Explained For Top US & UK University Admissions

What Are The Hardest IB Subjects? 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers a rigorous curriculum designed to challenge students academically and foster critical thinking skills. While the difficulty of IB subjects can vary depending on individual strengths and interests, some courses are generally considered more demanding than others due to their complexity and workload. 

Here’s a list of some of the hardest IB subjects:

  1. IB Mathematics Higher Level (HL)
  2. IB Physics Higher Level (HL)
  3. IB Chemistry Higher Level (HL)
  4. IB Biology Higher Level (HL)
  5. IB Further Mathematics Higher Level (HL)
  6. IB Economics Higher Level (HL)
  7. IB History Higher Level (HL)
  8. IB Computer Science Higher Level (HL
  9. IB Arabic B
  10. IB English Literature

Related: Step-By-Step Guide On IB Extended Essay With 10 Tips

What Are The Easiest IB Subjects?

Determining the “easiest” IB subjects can vary greatly depending on individual strengths, interests, and prior knowledge. However, some subjects are commonly perceived as more approachable or less demanding compared to others due to their content, assessment structure, or alignment with students’ aptitudes. 

Here are a few IB subjects that students often find more manageable:

  1. IB Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)
  2. IB Language Acquisition
  3. IB Business Management
  4. IB Psychology
  5. IB Mathematics Studies (SL)
  6. IB Film
  7. IB Sports, Exercise, and Health Science (SEHS)
  8. IB Visual Arts
  9. IB Philosophy
  10. IB Geography


1. Can You Choose Subjects In IB?

Yes, students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program can choose their subjects from a range of options offered within the curriculum.

2. What Is The Best Subject Combination For IB?

The best subject combination for the International Baccalaureate (IB) depends on individual interests, career aspirations, and strengths, but a balanced mix of subjects like Mathematics, Sciences (e.g., Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Humanities (e.g., History, Economics), and a Language (e.g., English, Spanish, French) is often recommended for a comprehensive education.

3. What Are The IB Options?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme requires students to choose six subjects in total, with one subject from each of the six subject groups, including Studies in Language & Literature, Language Acquisition, Sciences, Mathematics, Individuals and Societies, & the Arts.

4. What Is The Easiest Subject Combination For IB?

The easiest subject combination for the International Baccalaureate (IB) varies depending on individual strengths, but combinations like English Literature, Visual Arts, and Environmental Systems and Societies tend to be perceived as less demanding by some students.

5. What Are The IB Subjects For Medicine?

International Baccalaureate (IB) students pursuing medicine select subjects like Biology and Chemistry, often complemented by subjects like Mathematics and Physics to meet admission requirements for medical programs.


ib subject choices

As we wrap up our exploration of IB subject choices for 2024, it’s evident that the right combination can pave the way for academic success and personal growth. By considering individual interests, strengths, and future goals, students can curate a curriculum that truly resonates with them. Remember, the IB journey is not just about academic rigor but also about holistic development.

The IB curriculum is designed to challenge and engage students, encouraging them to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. By pursuing an IB Diploma, students gain a competitive edge in the university admissions process and are well-prepared for the academic rigors of higher education. 

Whether students choose to pursue a career in the sciences, humanities, arts, or beyond, the IB curriculum provides a solid foundation for success in any field.

Related: IBCP VS IBDP: 5 Differences To Make An Informed Choice