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Studying | Mateusz Kostrz | 04-07-2024


IB Mathematics IA Guide (2024)

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Writing your internal assessments, commonly known as IAs, can be a very stressful time, especially as most students do not possess much experience with scientific writing. On top of that, we must admit that teachers do not always make the best job in explaining the exact requirements, grading criteria or potential topics, which makes the whole assignment far from easy. Don’t worry though! That’s why we are here!

 

In this article we will share everything you need to know about your Internal Assessment from Mathematics for the year 2024/2025. Starting from the grading criteria to the essay outline, and potential topics, we will cover it all!

 

Before we go any deeper, let us give you a quick table of contents for this blog so you can easily move through sections! We have divided our work into 3 main spheres of an Internal Assessment:

 

 

So be free to skip to any part you like… but before you do that, make sure to read why Internal Assessments are so important!

 

Importance of Internal Assessments

Well, the best answer to “Why IAs are so important?” is that they simply take up around 20% of your grade. So, if you do some basic math (and you should know some, since we are talking about Math IAs), there is 42 points you can score from your 6 IB subjects, with 3 coming from TOK and EE. Therefore, if on average for each subject an internal assessment is worth 20%, then you can score more than 8 points just from your IAs alone (20% of 42 is 8.4 to be exact). A detailed description of the distribution of grade percentages for Mathematics (both AA and AI) is as follows:

 

For SL:

Assignment Paper 1 Paper 2 Internal Assessment
Weight 40% 40% 20%

 

For HL:

Assignment Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3 Internal Assessment
Weight 30% 30% 20% 20%

 

Now, that we have established that it is definitely worth it to spend some time on your IA, we can learn more about the assignment itself. Let’s start by analyzing the grading criteria.

 

Criterion Analysis

 

Criterion A – Presentation (0-4 points)

The "presentation" criterion evaluates the organization and coherence of the exploration. It emphasizes a clear and logical structure with well-integrated sections - introduction, body, and conclusion (more on that later) - while ensuring the inclusion of relevant visuals within the main text rather than as appendices. The criterion also promotes conciseness by discouraging unnecessary repetitions and irrelevant details (very important too!). Basically, show what you have to, and only that.

How to score well?

 

Criterion B – Mathematical Communication (0-4 points)

Criterion B evaluates how well students use appropriate mathematical language, notation, and multiple forms of representation such as graphs and tables. It emphasizes clarity and logical presentation, allowing for software-generated notation but encouraging diverse mathematical expressions where suitable.

How to score well?

 

Criterion C – Personal Engagement (0-3 points)

This criterion grades your choice of the topic, and how well it fits in your interests. It is important to show the examiners that you are deeply interested in the topic of your choice, and you decided to use your IA to even further deepen your knowledge on the topic.

How to score well?

 

Criterion D – Reflection (0-3 points)

This criterion assesses how well students reflect on their mathematical findings obtained in the IA, including their approach to problem-solving, the validity of their results, their conclusions, limitations, and implications.

How to score well?

 

Criterion E – Use of Mathematics (0-6 points)

Criterion E is the most important part of your IA grading. In summary, Criterion E assesses the mathematical precision of the IA. It evaluates the complexity, accuracy, and appropriateness of the mathematical techniques and concepts used in the exploration.

How to score well?

 

Step-by-step writing guide

 

Alright, now onto the juicy part, which is: how to actually write it? After brainstorming it with our team in which 5 members received 7 in their Maths IA during their time in IB, we came-up with a juicy 4-stage plan on how to approach, and write your IA.

 

Step 1: Go through IAs from previous years to see what your essay should look like

It is crucial to not get scared by the essay itself before knowing what it even is about. Read a couple of papers from the previous years, analyze what they did right and wrong, and learn how such essays should be structured and written. A good place to look for some IAs is here.

Remember to never plagiarize from others work! Have a look to see how things are done but do not copy the work of past students!

 

Step 2: Brainstorm your topic

The most important part is finding a good topic. If you have some topic in mind already, great! If not, don’t worry, most people don’t. The key point here is to give it some proper thought before going further, to avoid doing the same work twice.

Now, how to select a good topic? A very optimistic answer would be to choose something that interests you and write a mathematical paper about it. However, this is a lot easier said than done. So, a more realistic answer is to choose the topic for which you can get the best, reliable, and easily accessible data. Even if you have an amazing and interesting topic, but can’t find data about it, you won’t be able to make any use of it. But now you may ask, how to find the right data for your IA? Well, there are basically two options:

If you go for the first option, you simply conduct surveys, do some measurements, perform experiments, and in that way, you obtain your data. Relatively simple.

Finding data online can be a bit more tricky, because you have to know where to look, but we can help with that too. There’s a range of reliable resources online which you can easily use to gather your data, such as:

 

Of course, this is just a sample of websites from which you can get data for your analysis. If you have some of your own which you know are reliable, then it’s totally fine too.

When it comes to how old your data can be, there are no specific guidelines related to that, as your essay is supposed to simply investigate some mathematical concepts. However, it is always better to use recent data, as it makes sure your essay is still relevant.

Alright, let’s say you found some interesting data on one of the platforms listed above. Now you have to try to fit your topic ideas into one of the datasets you found. Let’s say you’re a student from France who is interested in your home country’s economic situation. Well, then potentially investigating how GDP levels of countries in the EU are related to their unemployment could be interesting.

Remember, doing backwards-reasoning like that will make sure that you have the right data to deal with your IA problem, to avoid the situation of having a great topic but no data, which is always the preferable solution!

 

3. Start by doing the analysis

Make sure to do the hard stuff first. Writing an introduction is easy once you know where your actual analysis will take you. Don’t waste time on trying to write an introduction and conclusions before doing the main analysis. After you have the analysis, it will take an hour or two to put it down into introduction and conclusions. So, gather all your data into one neat file, do the analysis you decided on doing, do a quick scan of the results, and then get to actual writing.

It could be that the data you found (even from a reliable source) is unusable, because some observations are missing, for example. Then, you have to go back to the drawing board and think of your topic again. If that happens, you will be thanking yourself that at least you didn’t waste your time on writing the introduction to the initial topic.

 

4. Finish it up

If all your analysis is done, go back to your introduction and write down conclusions. On this step make sure to follow all guidelines related to the structure of your essay (which will be outlined below too), the use of mathematics and the coherence of your essay.

 

Mathematics IA Layout

Finally, in the last part of this guide we wanted to give you a layout of exactly how your IA should look like:

 

Essay part What to include? Expected page count
Cover Page
  • Essay title
  • Your course (AA or AI)
  • Your level (SL or HL)
1
Introduction
  • A short introduction and background information to your topic
  • Your personal connection
  • Aim (explicitly stated)
  • Brief introduction to the mathematical concepts you will be using in the main body
1-2
Main Analysis
  • The most detailed and the most important part of your IA
  • Write down where you got your data from and describe your dataset
  • Include all necessary calculations and correct symbols
  • Include any graphs or figures
  • Provide sample calculations
10-20
Conclusions
  • Relate your findings back to the aim
  • Analyse the main results you found
  • Include any limitations
  • Provide possible areas for improvement
1-2
Bibliography
  • All references you used formatted in the APA style
1-2

 

 

Summary

 

In this article we gave you a realistic and up-to-date guide on how to write your Internal Assessment. Remember to always begin your work on such essays early, as they often take more time than initially expected and you don’t want to leave it until a couple days before the deadline. If this guide is not enough, no worries! Reach out to us at contact@edunade.com and we will connect you with one of our expert tutors to make sure you’re essay is of the highest standard! And if you're looking for more educational materials, make sure to check out our proprietary platform - Edunade Academy - where we share tons of IB-related resources, such as questionbanks, notes and past paper answers 💪