How to Ace your IB Maths Exams – 3 Principles for Success

IB Maths student acing Maths exam

In this blog series, we focus on quick help to ace your IB Maths exams.

…but I hear you say, “there are no shortcuts to ace your IB Maths exams!”

…and of course, on one side you are right…

…however, there are some quick exam strategies that EVERY IB Maths student can use to help you increase your score in your final exams.

In the first of the series, Vineet our top IB tutor and IB examiner will focus on an exam strategy that he calls “knowing.” And it is based on his experience of over 10 years as an IB Math HL/ SL teacher and an IB Maths Examiner,

This is part of a series of 3 companion blog posts 3 principles of success. In fact, they are applicable to all aspects of life, all situations, and professions. Moreover, the approach to ace IB Maths exams is no different. So here they are:

  1. Knowing
  2. Understanding
  3. Consistent effort

Let’s see how we can use these first of these principles to ace the IB Maths exams that are just around the corner.

First and foremost you need to KNOW what to expect in your IB Maths exams papers.

Here, I am going to take you through a tactic that 100% of students can use to increase their chances to ace their IB Maths exams.

So, you need to get to know the exam papers. But what does this really mean?

Well, it is all about making sure that you prepare well. Above all, this means you need to know the style of questions that will come up in each paper.

Moreover, students need to be familiar with the structure of the IB Maths exam paper itself. As this is an important step to plan and develop a strategy to make sure you get at least 4 in your IB math exam.

This is something really very basic.

Hopefully, it is information that you already know. However, as it is the foundation to success in your final IB Maths exams, I will explain it here.

So, here is the structure of IB Math exam paper:

For both Maths AA SL and AI SL every student completes Paper 1. As you will know, this is the “no calculator paper”. Then there is Paper 2 – where students can use calculators. Finally, there is, of course, the much loved IA, or the Internal assessment.

Both Paper 1 and Paper 2 have two sections:

Section A which is approximately 50 % of the total mark has really very simple short response questions that test the basic concepts and skills that you have learned in mathematics. Most questions are worth a maximum of 7 or 8 marks and section A questions basically require you to use the correct formula, substitution, and find the right answer of course.

Section B questions are more challenging. In fact, IB Maths examiners expect detailed responses to the questions in this paper. More importantly, they expect you to combine skills and key concepts of different topics.

If your mock results are around 50%, then with most grade boundaries in the Maths IB exams (since I am an examiner) you are likely to get 4 points. That’s a promising start.

You can get those 4 points from Section A if the Maths IB exam as the questions are not as challenging.

If you can’t get Section A right, we can’t hope much from Section B, as it is harder. So, it is important that the first step is always to get confident on Section A first.

So focus on getting 100% in Section A and you are assured of 4 points. Of course, it depends on IA as well. This, in my view, is an important tip for you to ensure that you have at least 4 points.

Many students are so worried about Section B that they end up losing easy marks they can get from section A. This is why you really have to maximise points in section A.

In my next blog, I will be talking about understanding the mark scheme. In addition to getting an understanding of the Maths IB exam paper structure, you need to have a good knowledge of the mark scheme so that you can optimise the marks for each question.

Till then happy learning.


Finally, if you are still feeling lost or confused why not work with one of our IB Maths tutors to help revise?

Here is some more information about our specialist Maths tutors who are IB teachers and examiners and know how to help you.

Either one-to-one or by joining one of our online group courses you needn’t feel at a loss. Vineet is an IB Maths Examiner, and certified teacher. He has taught in international schools in New Zealand, Russia, and also China. At the same time, he specialises in teaching Maths IAs.

Vineet is a highly experienced maths teacher and IB examiner. If you would like tuition with Vineet, get in touch at

For more details on the IB Diploma Maths course visit the IBO page.

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