Mathematics curriculum changes

Some new developments are underway in the IB Diploma Programme (DP) mathematics curriculum. We expect to be ready for educators to start teaching the new courses in 2019.

Developments in DP mathematics mean that it remains relevant and rigorous while addressing the needs of mathematics students from 2019 until 2028, at which point the next development cycle will complete and the succeeding new version of the course will be released. We believe the changes to DP mathematics offers more choice to a greater number of students as well as offering schools greater flexibility in the way they group students, schedule lessons and teach the skills and content.

Critical thinking

For employers and universities alike, critical thinking in mathematics is becoming an increasingly valued skill, especially as technology advances making some traditional skills redundant.

Critical thinking in the context of mathematical learning is the ability to recognise where the subject can be used, understand and synthesise technical documents, apply relevant mathematical approaches to familiar and unfamiliar situations, structure logical arguments, be risk aware, understand that technology and mathematics can go hand-in-hand, and interpret the meaning and relevance of solutions. These are all becoming increasingly important and sought-after skills.

How will DP mathematics address this in 2019?

DP mathematics will focus on developing the skills of analysis, abstraction and generalisation, risk awareness and statistical literacy, algorithmic thinking, modelling and inquiry. We also aim to meet the diverse needs, interests and motivations of all our students within the DP and the Career-related Programme (CP).

We have designed two mathematics subjects/routes that will each be offered at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL):

    1. Mathematics: Analysis and approaches course will be offered at both SL and HL. It is designed for students who enjoy developing their mathematics to become fluent in the construction of mathematical arguments and develop strong skills in mathematical thinking. They will explore real and abstract applications, sometimes with technology, and will enjoy the thrill of mathematical problem solving and generalization.
    2. Mathematics: Applications and interpretation course will be offered at both SL and HL for students who are interested in developing their mathematics for describing our world, modelling and solving practical problems using the power of technology. Students who take Mathematics: Applications and interpretation will be those who enjoy mathematics best when seen in a practical context.

Behind the scenes of the DP mathematics curriculum review

To learn more about these developments, and to find out what the IB community is saying about these changes, you can download our FAQ, and read our community blog post.

Recognition Updates

Africa, Europe, Middle East

From a country perspective, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Georgia, Germany, Switzerland and the UK have recognised both courses and will be advising their respective universities.

Germany recognizes both mathematics HL courses to contribute to a general university admission qualification (Allgemeine Hochschulzugangsberechtigung) and recognizes both mathematics SL courses to contribute to a subject specific university admission qualification (FachgebundeneHochschulzugangsberechtigung). Both new mathematics subjects at SL will allow access to universities and tertiary educational institutions for all subjects, except those related to mathematics, technical studies and natural sciences. You can view the updated recognition statement here under Germany.

In the UK, prestigious institutions such as Imperial College, London have published acceptance of both courses for the majority of their bachelor's degrees.

The Americas

In general, universities in this region have high confidence in the rigor of IB courses. The reaction from our colleagues in admissions is positive and they look forward to obtaining full materials to begin the work of evaluating content and setting policy.


In the Asia-Pacific region, a growing list of universities are starting to update their recognition policies. At the University of Hong Kong, admission to their engineering department will accept either new course. Meanwhile, at the University of Sydney and National University of Singapore, applicants will still be evaluated on their overall IB diploma results, regardless of math course. Additionally, subject mapping of the new courses to each state’s mathematics curriculum in Australia is currently ongoing.

View individual country recognition statements here.

Useful Resources

Download these PDF resources that will help you navigate updates and changes to the new curriculum. The documents give more information on how the changes align with current classes, scheduling, course selection guidance and more. 

Overview & Best Fit Guide (Global): An overview of the new courses, the topic breakdown by teaching hours for each subject, and how the new courses could correspond to your current mathematics classes 

Download pdf

Overview & Best Fit Guide (USA specific): An overview of the new courses, the topic breakdown by teaching hours for each subject, and how the new courses could correspond to USA-specific mathematics classes

Download pdf

Models for Structuring: How to schedule the new courses based on available resources

Download pdf

Recognition Guide: Information for counselors working with students to determine which courses best suits their needs

Download pdf