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Changing my subjects after IB1

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I've been considering changing one of my subjects after IB1, but I'm not really sure what's the best option for me.

My current subjects are:

  • English Lit HL
  • Spanish B SL
  • Music SL
  • Bio HL
  • Math HL
  • History HL

At my school, all IB students are usually required to take History because the only Group 3 subjects we offer are Psychology SL and History HL, and Psychology is intended (for us) to be a Group 6 replacement. My problem is that history is one of my weakest subjects. I've taken two AP history classes in the past two years and I struggled in both. I'm about to finish my first semester of History HL and I'm doing terrible in the class.

I talked to my coordinator about taking the SL exam for History, and he insisted that the HL exam is easy and everyone from my school always scores very highly in it. He thinks I should keep my subjects as is, although I don't really trust his judgement for other reasons.

I only recently found out that Psychology is a Group 3 subject (my school doesn't tell us anything) and I was considering dropping History HL for Psychology SL after finishing up this year. I can definitely get around the typical History requirement at my school, but I'm more uncertain if I should. I intend on studying English and Mathematics in college, so having the right courses in Group 3 isn't really a concern. I guess I'm asking this:

1. How difficult is the History HL exam?

2. How difficult is the Psychology SL exam?

3. Does it sound like switching is the right thing for me?

4. If you have experience with AP History courses - is there any correlation with or similarities between AP History and History HL? As in, if I struggled to write the essays for an AP History exam, will I struggle with the papers for IB?

(Sorry for the length of this post - I wanted to make sure I included as much potentially relevant information as possible to make responding to this easier)

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It's hard for most of us to comment on the difficulty of the IB History as IB changed the syllabus one year ago. I took the old exams (2016) and my gut reaction is that it is pretty difficult. I got a 5 on APUSH in a year where where most kids scored lower than normal, and I felt if you just knew a lot you were good to go. In IB, in contrast, you need to know a lot, but you also have to have some pretty compelling arguments and a pretty coherent picture of holistic situations. IB removed the historiography focus from the syllabus, which was the most difficult part of the course and what differentiated it most from AP. History HL has traditionally been one of the hardest subjects to get a 7 in, but it doesn't necessarily fail more kids (2's and 3's) than other subjects. So let's be charitable to your coordinator and just assume he mixed up his data. I actually scored lower than I expected in History SL, but I feel it was mostly because of my IA which was moderated. I felt my essay's were strong enough. One of the papers in the external is very similar to an AP question, and another one is a bit different. A lot of my classmates commented on how they thought the external was easy.

Psychology SL, I'm just going to warn you these are my personal feelings, was a nightmare for me. I didn't actually test in it but I took the class and the IA was painless as opposed to History, which is quite difficult. However, the external for psych seemed awful. There is a ton of knowledge to memorize. Come to think of it, I think IB is changing the syllabus for 2019 exams, so again, take everything with a grain of salt but I just did not like IB Psych. None of my classmates mentioned that they thought the external was easy.

I think it's fair to say you'l likely struggle in history if come with the same approach and you've struggled in your two previous classes. That being said, I think I tried to show Psych won't necessarily be a walk in the park. I think the best bet is to carefully consider it and decide what class you want to do more.

P.S. History is also a lot easier if you have a good teacher, so just something to consider.

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