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Hello, I’m a student currently in IB Diploma grade 11, and I’m writing this to come up with a good decision. I hope your advice might help.


It has been around one month from the start of grade 11, and my subject for group 4 is Chemistry SL. However, I’m thinking of switching it to Physics SL. Physics students are now at the end of Chapter 1 (Measurement and Uncertainties), and they’ve already done some test. If I move class, I think I should take those test within one week(not sure tho, just guess).

I don’t have a big problem with chemistry, but as you know, there is a lot of memorization compared to physics. So if I choose physics and understand it well, I would be able to reduce my time in memorizing and distribute some time to BM HL, which is quite a lot memorizing stuff.


My interest (in those subjects) is somehow similar. But I don’t really like building circuit (calculating electricity is ok).

For the teacher, I’m not experiencing any issues with Chem teacher, and I don’t think there’s a problem with Physics teacher as well, so that won’t be a big problem for now.

The biggest reason why I’m attracted to Physics is the grade boundary. In 2019-20, grade boundary for 7 in Chem SL is around 80, but for Physics is 65. The gap is quite large.

However, IB Physics is notorious for being difficult. That’s what makes me hesitate.


I was in IGCSE until grade 9 and moved to IB in grade 10. In IGCSE, I have done Chemistry much more than Physics. However, Physics score was slightly higher than Chemistry.

In grade 10, I didn’t have a problem understanding concept in both Chem and Physics.

In Semester 2 exam for grade 10, I get 7/8 for Chemistry and 8/8 for Physics.

But I heard the gap between grade 10 physics and IB Physics is much more significant compared to Chemistry. Is it true?


For math, I scored 6/7 in math extended class in grade 10. I’m taking MAA SL now.

Neither Chemistry nor Physics is related to my major, so this will be all about Final IB score.


Thank you for reading this unorganized text full of grammar issues.

I’ll really appreciate if you give and advice/recommendation!

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First of all, you shouldn't need to memorize over 20-30% of Chem SL. The time spent on memorizing in Chem SL would need to be spent on conceptual understanding in Physics SL. There is a clear timeline to memorization, but it is unclear how well you will fare if you have to understand a concept thoroughly. There is also a significant amount of conceptual understanding in Chemistry, in most of the units.

I wouldn't know how much the jump between grade 10 and 11 is, since that depends on your school. I took Chemistry HL and Physics SL, and frankly I do like how the physics SL course is structured compared to chemistry. The Physics SL boundary for May is around 75 rather than 80, so the difference is big but not overwhelmingly big. But physics has slightly more critical thinking questions, where Chemistry questions are in general very straightforward. 

The chance that you will score higher in physics cannot be determined from the first month of IB. You should go with whichever one is more interesting to you, so that when the class does get tough, you will have the motivation to pull through. I can tell you in 2 years of Physics SL, we spent maybe 1 or 2 classes building circuit, so don't let that be a big factor. Also consider the historical performances at your school. That is more relevant than the grade boundary. If one subject clearly outperforms the other at your school, then choose that one.

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