Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics


What’s your subject combination? Why did you choose it?

My subject combination is PCM and it’s pretty much a mainstream combination for those interested to go into engineering! However, if you plan to do medicine overseas, I know seniors who have taken PCM and still got admitted into an undergraduate medicine course overseas. As I want to go into engineering, taking PCM was a pretty obvious choice because I would need the Physics and Mathematics in probably any branch of engineering while Chemistry opens up a few more doors should I change my mind about aerospace engineering!

What’s the best thing about your subject combi?

The best thing about PCM is that you end internal exams and the actual IB earlier than the Biology students haha! Jokes aside, I think for those who hate to mug, PCM is a pretty good combination because it doesn’t involve a lot of rote memorizing. It is much less time consuming compared to notes-heavy subjects such as History or Biology but instead relies on practice and a good understanding of the subject matter.

Physics and Chemistry IAs are pretty manageable and much less demanding than the mini-EE-like Biology IAs. They certainly take up much less time and effort.

What’s the biggest challenge in managing your subjects?

The challenges are slightly different between the subjects so I shall try to address each one individually.

Physics: Physics papers contain many application questions and this can get tough sometimes because you have to apply familiar knowledge to unfamiliar situations. The calculation aspect of the paper is not too difficult but significant figures and error propagation are the only minor problems that can cause you to lose a couple marks here and there. Physics IAs themselves in Year 5 are very simple and straightforward with simple 2 or 3 page reports. In Year 6, design IAs could prove to be a bit tougher! Physics IAs are thought to be the most slack IAs amongst the three science subjects!

Chemistry: Chemistry is a paper that is quite possible to do well in and at the same time very possible to do badly in. It involves slightly more memorizing than Physics but come Year 6, organic chemistry could involve a whole lot of memory work (I’m not too sure about this yet though! We shall see and maybe I can update you all in one year’s time ;)) IAs are a bit more demanding than Physics IAs but ask any Bio student and they’ll say that Chemistry IAs are chicken feet.

Mathematics: Perhaps the most challenging subject among the three, sometimes it feels like no amount of practice will allow you to do well but fret not! With continuous practice and perseverance, you’ll get there. It can get pretty frustrating at times and it’s very easy to get stuck at questions during the exams but the trick is to just move on and pick up as many points as you can without being careless!

Mathematics HL has one IA and it is a huge pain for many. Finding a topic for your Mathematics Exploration can be a long, painful and stressful journey that, fortunately, the whole cohort has to endure (you won’t be alone). If possible, think about it as early as possible and hopefully you’ll get yourself a good topic!

Any advice for juniors considering a similar subject combination?

PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS. I cannot stress how important this is. Some of the things you simply cannot study on your own and if you don’t have tuition (which I feel is unnecessary because our school teachers are great and always open for consultations), paying attention in class is the best way to save yourself from last minute mugging. Listen to the way teachers explain things and feel free to ask them anything or CLARIFY ANY DOUBTS either during or after class if they’re rushing. Paying attention has saved me hours of self studying and helped me do better in exams because teachers will teach you HOW to answer questions effectively!

For Math, there is literally no shortcut but to practice a lot. I’m not even kidding, unless your IQ and mathematical ability is far above average, sit your ass down and practice if you want to get that 7!

All the best PCMers!

Nishan (6.02) is from the graduating batch of 2015.

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