In each one of your IB classes, you will do an essay called the Internal Assessment in addition to either an External Assessment or Individual Oral (for language classes). For this article, we'll be focusing on the Internal Assessment. Though these do not count toward your final IB Diploma Grade (we'll release more information on this in a coming article), the International Baccalaureate Organization and your IB teacher will be looking at them and grading them.
So, what is this assessment? It will be a 12-20 page research paper on a research topic of your choice. Don't worry: the 12-20 pages will be easier to fill than you think! Below are some examples and templates of Internal Assessment research questions that you can use to create your own:
IB Math: Are favorite movie genre and age group independent of one another?
IB Philosophy: How does [insert song title here] reflect the growth of the human identity?
IB Math: What is the correlation between hours spent studying and GPA?
IB Biology: Is there a notable difference in the reproductive rate of [insert organism here] in the ungrazed area of Yellowstone National Park versus the grazed area of the park?
IB Chemistry: What is the effect of changing the concentration of [insert element name here] on the [insert variable here] when [insert element here] is added?
It's important to note that you should be getting a few months of preparation to write your IA, especially if it's in biology, chemistry, or physics where you need to conduct an investigative experiment. In my IB Math Applications and Interpretations class, our teacher introduced the concept of the IA to our class back in November, and we turned it in this past March. Here is a quick outline of what the paper and process should look like:
Your title page should include only your research question and page count of your essay. The IB Organization explicitly states that students should not include personal information such as their name or IB candidate number, so please don't worry about including that information!
Table of Contents
After your title page, you should have a Table of Contents to show that your IA is organized efficiently. Please note that this more applies to math, biology, chemistry, and physics IAs since those will require an experimental or statistical investigation. For Philosophy IAs, you'll just have your title page as explained above and a summary of the book, movie scene, or song you're using if it's over 200 words (if it's less than 200 words you can just put your stimulus in the essay) before starting your analysis of the stimulus. Though every IB class has its own unique IA rubric (we'll be publishing more on subject-specific IA information, but please seek out the rubric from your teacher if they have not shown it to you already), all IAs will be graded on how organized they are, how well the paper answers the research question, and how well you show your work/understanding (show the equations you're using, graph information, and reflect on the results of your investigation). The table of contents can be very simple: just the subheading such as Introduction, Plan of Investigation, and scientific/mathematical test you're using across the page from the page number you'll be explaining each one on.
The introduction is where you should explain why you chose to write on the topic and what you hope to learn from this investigation/experiment. In your introduction, it is a good idea to include a citation from an article so that you can show your interest in the topic (the graders of your IAs will consider your personal engagement, or how important the topic truly is to you-so please choose a topic you'd truly be interested in writing about!). For example, my friend wrote about the correlation between the heights of college basketball players and number of blocks per season because she's the captain of the varsity basketball team and plays on a club team outside of school. Ultimately, in your introduction, you want to explain why you chose your topic, what you hope to gain, and the scientific or mathematical investigation you're going to perform to reach your answer (for example, Chi-Square Test for Independence or a titration).
Plan of Investigation
For your Plan of Investigation section, you'll want to state exactly what you're going to do to answer your question. If you're doing a Chi-Square Test, for example, you'll want to set your Level of Confidence, Null and Alternate Hypotheses, and how you're going to gather your data (Google Form Survey, for example). If you're doing an IA for Biology or Chemistry, think of this section as your materials and procedures.
Experiment/Data and Statistical Test
After your Plan of Investigation, you'll actually write about the process you're doing to answer your question. For a statistical test, you'll want to explain how you got your data and put it all in a table. For other scientific experiments, you'll want to explain the steps you went through and what you learned after each step. Throughout your writing, please make sure that you're writing all the equations/formulas you're using and one example of you plugging a value into each formula. You should also include graphs such as histograms, line graphs, or scatter plots if it helps to demonstrate your results and adds to your paper. After each one of these graphs after every data table, however, you'll want to reflect on what your results tell you thus far.
In your conclusion, you'll want to explain what your results tell you about your research question and how your results will impact the world. For example, you can write about how it might lead business owners to reach a new target audience, how it might lead chemists to look at a new element or test, or how your results might lead to greater conservation efforts. It would also be good to include what the process of writing the IA taught you as a mode of reflection.
Hopefully this article helped you better understand what the IA is and how to succeed on it! As the due dates for IAs is coming up quickly at the time of this article's publication, good luck everyone!
By Canon Pham
Canon Pham is an IB Diploma Candidate and Junior at Glen A. Wilson High School who is passionate about using her voice to raise awareness of important issues and build community among like-minded people. After her first semester of Junior year, she started the IB Student Chronicle to help provide more information about the IB experience for prospective and first-year IB Diploma Candidates. She also writes for The Teen Magazine, tutors with Reading Partners, holds several leadership positions at school, and plays varsity tennis. Canon enjoys spending time with her two younger siblings, her adorable puppy dog, and her incredible group of friends.