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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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Varun Srinivasan
5 IB Guides

IB Math SL Internal Assessment (IA) Example Topics

What’s Covered:


The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, or IBDP for short, is the most common alternative to an upper-level highschool education to an AP class. It is not only challenging, but also highly recognized for college admissions around the world, making its rigor and academic difficulty worthwhile. 


One of the best parts about the IBDP is that the program takes a holistic approach to schooling, as opposed to a system solely based on examinations. An important component of this is the internal assessment (IA). An IA is any component of IB that is internally graded (i.e not graded by IB). Usually the biggest one of these is a research-based essay, often called an investigation at most schools, that will allow students to take concepts learned in their 6 classes, and write a university-level paper to showcase their extents to learn above the required amount. In this blog, we will be talking about the IA for IB Math SL, one of IB’s most popular courses. 


What is the IB Internal Assessment (IA)?


The IA is more simple than it sounds. Any piece of work that is internally graded at your school, be it oral, a presentation, or any form for media, is considered an IA. An externally graded assessment such as the official examinations at the end of the two-year program, is an external assessment. Understanding this difference is important to better prepare for your numerous IAs. 


Most schools will require students to submit research papers for an IA on top of presentations and other mediums, with this research paper constituting a bulk of the IA portion of the total grade. This research paper is often intended to be investigative in nature, allowing the student to question a concept and use this curiosity to show higher-level thinking.


In the case of IB Math SL, most students will take concepts taught in class and find practical ways to use these concepts in real life. This allows students to prove understanding of a concept and its uses. 


You might be struggling with getting started on your IB Math IA, but don’t worry because this is very common. Most students struggle to come up with original ideas that are interesting and enjoyable to do. Hopefully the following ideas can provide some inspiration for your IAs. 


IB Math IA Examples and Ideas


IA Idea 1 – Birthday Paradox 


The idea tackles the paradoxical concept of how probability dictates that those in a room full of people are very likely to share a birthday.


This idea uses concepts from probability and data coursework in Math SL. While solving the paradox would be nothing new, perhaps taking the information and applying it into other mathematical concepts, or testing the data with a sample population of people would be an interesting direction to take. Presentation of the data is as important too – powerpoints are the go to method, so try something new! Maybe you could develop a simple application to showcase the paradox in the form of a game. The possibilities are endless, and just goes to show how creative you can be with the IA.


IA Idea 2 – Modeling Statistics


Modeling IAs can generally refer to any project where a certain change in statistics is being presented in a visual manner. One example is modeling the radioactive decay of chernobyl, and determining if conditions are suitable for living. Another example can be modeling the population of a country and determining the time left until the area is deemed overpopulated. 


Modeling is in itself an easy task but trying to make the information digestible and interesting is the hard part.


IA Idea 3 – Analyzing the Math of Monopoly


A fun IA idea could be analyzing the probability and statistics behind the game Monopoly! Is there a certain strategy to win or is the game luck-based? Try collecting data on how the game behaves based on numerous trials, conveniently collected through playing the game with friends! Maybe you find that the game isn’t so based on luck, and probability shows a consistent and reliable tactic to win? This concept can be done with almost any board game, making the application of the idea boundless!


This IA idea brings the fun into Mathematics SL, and would be as fun to write a report on!


How is the IB Math IA Scored?


The IA is internally scored, meaning the IB isn’t responsible for any grade associated with your IA assignments. Your teachers however, are heavily associated with the process of creating your IAs for all your classes. They are the ones responsible for your IA grades, so it’s always best to refer to your teacher and request any sort of rubric that you could work with! 


Each class will require a different method of grading IAs. For example, a practical science like Chemistry HL would need a more investigative approach in an IA through the scientific method as compared to an IA in Spanish SL. This means you must face each IA with a different mindset!


The IAs in Math SL make a little more than 10% of the total grade, which is a sizable chunk! You should aim to take advantage of this, because the IAs are definitely scored more leniently than the examinations and other external assessments. This 10% can be the difference between a 6 and 7 in the final grade of the class!


Final Tips


Don’t Overdo It


While the IAs are important, they are not intended to be as massive of a research project as the extended essay (EE), the most important piece of research work you’ll be doing as an IB student. If you find that an IA takes up time from working on your EE, you should change the IA topic to make it easier. The EE is worth much more than the IA, to the point where failing the EE immediately disqualifies a student from gaining the diploma!


Save a Great Idea


If you notice your IA idea is too difficult for the scope of an IA, then maybe it could make a great EE idea. Perhaps with more fleshing out, you could create a great EE topic, which would be beneficial in making it easier to get the diploma!


Make it Interesting


The IAs are a great opportunity to be more fun and creative compared to other projects that require more serious tones and formats. Create media and forms of presentations that are enjoyable and fun! 


How Does The IB Math IA Affect My Admissions Chances?


The IAs have no direct effects on your chances of admissions, but they do help you become a more holistic student, a quality that schools find attractive. Amongst holistic mindsets, there are numerous other factors admissions officers seek out when accepting students into their schools. To get a better understanding of your shots into a university, try CollegeVine’s admission calculator! This intuitive tool accounts for many factors, from GPA to extracurriculars, and tells you your shots of getting into your dream school!

Short Bio
Varun is a recent graduate from Arizona State University, Tempe, with a degree in Computer Science. He aims to share his knowledge of computer science, the IB Diploma Program, and all things college-related with high school students. In his free time, he can be found performing DJ sets or cooking!