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Should I go for 4 HLs?

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The course selection process for my school is starting in a month, so recently I've been thinking about the IB courses I want to take. I'm eligible to take 4 HLs (based on school GPA requirement), but I'm still not 100% sure on whether or not I want to go for that kind of rigor. I'm planning on studying medicine after high school (I'm genuinely interested in this career, it's not because of my Asian parents lol), in case that makes a difference. I've been considering choosing these courses:

- English A Lang/Lit HL (native speaker, English teachers agree that my writing and literary analysis skills are very strong, and it's one of the classes I enjoy more; I don't read as often as I once did, though)

- Math HL (Math is one of my strongest subjects and is also my favorite, so I don't plan on dropping this to SL even if it's difficult)

- Chemistry HL (again, one of my stronger subjects, but I'm not super experienced and have not yet delved into too many complex topics at school yet)

- Biology HL (Ecology is the only branch of biology I have studied at school thus far, and I did extremely well in the course, but I'm not sure if this is a reliable predictor for success in IB bio. I'm interested in the subject, though)

- Chinese A Lang/Lit SL (this one is kind of complicated, I've explained it below. I live in China btw)

- Psychology SL (I've always been interested in human behavior and neuroscience, so I think I'll enjoy this subject)


I'd say I have a pretty good work ethic, but I do occasionally find myself procrastinating lol. I'm working on getting rid of that issue, though. I hold myself to very high standards, so I'm always determined to make sure all the work that I produce is as good as it can be, but that does sort of add unnecessary pressure on me as a student.

My main worry for IB is Chinese A. I don't know how or why I'm still studying Chinese at the level I am, it just kind of happened. It has definitely been a challenge to keep my grades in the A-range these last two years. Chinese is the class I'm putting the most time and effort into, but I'm not particularly enjoying it too much. I'm not absolutely terrible at Chinese. I'm definitely fluent when it comes to speaking and listening. I can read and write alright, but nowhere near the level of my English reading/writing. My Chinese class consists of kids who have studied Mandarin at local Chinese schools for most of their lives, whereas I have only ever been to American public schools and international schools. All the Mandarin I know has basically come from my parents (native Chinese) and a few years' worth of Chinese classes at my international school. The problem is that I started learning high-level Chinese without having laid a strong enough foundation. Therefore, there are gaps in my basic knowledge (there are probably a few elementary-level words that I still don't know how to read or write), but I'm still forced to read and analyze complex texts and more despite this. My teacher knows about my background, so she goes easier on me in class and holds me to slightly lower standards compared to the rest of my classmates, but I know that the IB program and exams aren't gonna go easy on me. Nevertheless, I don't really have the option to drop to Chinese B (it does indeed seem too easy for me based on past papers, I'm kind of in a weird spot between B and A in terms of skill level), and my teacher thinks I could get the bilingual diploma with enough effort. I know I could get my Chinese up to par over the summer and during the school year, especially with constant familial support, but I don't know if that's comfortably manageable if I were to take 4 HLs, which I'm seriously considering.

Sorry for the tangent, I'll come back to my main question: based on my background, do you think taking 4 HLs is a good idea? I want to maximize rigor and also earn as many college credits as I can, but I wanna remain sane too lol. Sorry for the long post, I'm new to this whole forum thing. Forgive me if I'm doing anything stupid.

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If you have very good work ethic, study habits, and self-discipline, 4HLs should be no problem as medical school will be way tougher than IB. However, I do not think Chinese A is right for you. You are expected to write about ~1000-1200 characters for each of the two 1.5-hour exam. These are well-organized argumentative essays drawing evidence from your texts. Many language B HL students speak the language at home but do not go to a day school taught in this language. As such, getting a 6-7 in Language B HL is to score 80s-90s on the exams. For most language A, this is high 70-80% on the exams. For comparison, an average language A essay without significant grammatical errors is somewhere in the high 60%s. 

I suggest Chinese B HL and bring English Lang/Lit to SL or take English Literature SL (or English self-taught literature SL).

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 Personally I am more inclined to spend time on my extracurriculars rather than taking 4 HLs, but that's only my choice. I would suggest that it depends on yourself. If you can handle the workload and maintain a good GPA, then you can try. 4 HLs would look very impressive on college admissions, showcasing that you have a good work ethic and academic determination. 

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i did 4 hls for about eight weeks at the start of IB (my school wouldn't let anyone continue with four past that), which were chem, bio, maths and history (the one I ended up dropping was maths). I know it was only the beginning of the year, when you do the easiest content, but it was definitely manageable, and i quite enjoyed the chem/bio/maths combo. i was kinda disappointed to have to drop maths but on the other hand it did just free up a lot of time which meant i could work harder for and therefore do better on my other subjects - which I think is important for you if you have to do Chinese A. If it's something you anticipate having to spend extra time on, I wouldn't advise having 4 HLs as well (although it definitely wouldn't be impossible).  Like you said though, it's important to remain sane, and I reckon even if it was fine in IB1 taking 4hls and chinese a would just be really stressful in ib2? also bear in mind that for med school it's important to have a high overall score (although tbh you sound like the kind of person who would manage that even with 4 hls)

good luck though! sure you'll do well whatever you decide to do :)

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