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IB Assessments

Each subject within the International Baccalaureate Program has its own set of assessments, but each subject follows a basic structure. The Internal Assessment, or IA, is one that is marked by the teacher and then a sample set is submitted to IB for moderation. In additional to the IA, Standard Level (SL) subjects require two externally assessed examinations, referred to in IB lingo as "Papers" (e.g. "Paper 1," "Paper 2"). Higher Level Subjects require three external  exams. All external exams are completed in May of a student's Senior year (with the exception of SL Foreign Language) . 

History IA

The IB History Internal Assessment

 In History, the IA is sometimes called the "H.I." which stands for Historical Investigation. The Historical Investigation is a 2,200-word paper divided into three parts with the research paper component usually ending around 1200 words. Students may choose their own topic, but it must be a topic before the year 2000. Topics must be very specific in order to limit the number of sources to a manageable number. Students should do extensive background reading before committing to a topic. One thing to think about when choosing a topic for a historical investigation are the types of primary sources that the students wishes to spend many hours utilizing. Well-used primary sources along with academic secondary sources that a student has critically examined are key components of historical investigations. 

Preparation for the History IA during the Junior Year

During the Junior year, students are assigned a specific topic such as  "Islamic Women during the Medieval Abbasid Period"  in which they are required to develop a research question that fits within that very narrow topic and allows for a 1200-1500 word research paper. They then find appropriate sources, develop an annotated bibliography, write a paper proposal that includes a tentative thesis, then develop a detailed outline. Students then complete a first draft, followed by a second draft about one month later, and then a then a third and final draft due at the end of April. The purpose of this assignment is to walk students through the process of research in order to allow them to see the importance of each step. In doing this process, students learn that even a topic such as "Islamic Women during the Medieval Abbasid Period" have a number of options when it comes to research. Hopefully students will use this knowledge to develop a specific research question for their Historical Investigation that allows for a 1200-word paper without being too large that the sources are too extensive. One of the biggest problems that students in the past tend to show on thier first research projects is that they choose a topic such as "World War II," "The Civil Right Movement," or "Galileo." Each of these topics are so large it would would take thousands and thousands of pages, and would even then barely scratch the surface. [The number of books written on Abraham Lincoln, for example, can fill several stories of a building]. 

During the 2020 coronavirus Digital Learning period, students had an opportunity to really explore the research process. Since first drafts were due just before the coronavirus lockdown, student had already completed their drafts, and the digital learning provided an opportunity to work more closely with me via online comments and corrections to see areas for improvement. Many student agreed that they are now much  more prepared to start a new project and "fix the mistakes" that they made regarding choosing their topics/questions through extensive background reading. Hopefully, they will start earlier and devote more time to the background reading necessary to develop strong analytical research questions and find appropriate sources over the Summer in order to ease the work that they need to complete their senior year for the History IA. 

Timeline of History IA Research Project:


Summer between Junior Year and Senior Year:  (1) Develop specific research question based on extensive background reading and the finding of sources. (2) Develop a list of primary and secondary sources for this project. The number of Primary sources depends on the nature of the topic, but should be a large part of any research project. Students should have about 6-10 secondary sources consisting of books and journal articles (not websites nor encyclopedias nor textbooks) each of which is specific to the topic and are not simply one of many possible sources, but rather the sources that are essential to one's specific question. 


Each checkpoint is designed to force students to make specific progress on an element of their overall project. Each checkpoint may be a completion grade or an assessed grade or no grade. The same level of attention should be given. 


August 10: Turn in source list and research question

September 4: Paper proposal and annotated bibliography (only paper proposal is required to be submitted on Sept 4)

October 5: Detailed outline for paper

October 16: Completed first draft of research paper (Part B)

October 30: First draft of source evaluation (Part A)        Source evaluation videos

December 4: Completed second draft of source evaluation and second draft of research paper

December 18: Complete Final Draft of research paper and final draft of source evaluation; complete First draft of reflection paper (part C). Completed IA submitted to

January 11: Final draft of reflection (Part C).

January 15: Completed IA digitized and uploaded on managebac. 

History IA Guidelines and Tips 

Research Flow Chart to develop a good research focus

research flow chart.png

IB History Topics if you are interested in choosing a topic that relates to the course work

Research Guide Path (Detailed)

Additional resources can be found here on the writing and research page

Helpful Website with a lot of material including a great page on 

Sample History IAs with Moderator Marks from IB

Some of these samples are not double spaced or place the citations in a sentence rather than at the end of the sentence. Additionally, not all of them follow Chicago/Turabian citation style and include phrenetical citations. Just because an example is listed here and scored well, does not mean that a student should follow the formatting exactly. History papers for this class should follow Chicago/Turabian citation style (quick reference found here), and should be double spaced. 

Student work with a score of 22/25 according to the moderator marks

*This example is the strongest of the three. However, the student does not correctly use Chicago./Turabian citation. Additionally, he could have used more primary sources, Yet, the argument is based on the limited primary sources as the base because it uses statistics as a key component of the argument. The key for this investigation is that is it not about the impact of WWII on female employment; it is about a long-term consequence. I would argue that the student is assuming that the post war years from 1947-1950 constituted the beginning of  a long-term trend. The IB moderator agreed with the student. But remember, that history and grading is subject to bias. Therefore, anytime a reader suggests that your argument is making an assumption, you should take it seriously and not just rely on a "formula" that you think may be illustrated in any of these examples.   

Student work with a score of 20/25 according to the moderator marks

*This example has a weak question, but the student is not really analyzing the extent of Hitler developing totalitarianism, rather, he is analyzing the historiographical arguments about it over the years. The IB moderator recognized this, and scored him well, but does seem a little generous in his marks.

*However, this is a good example of doing an IA using secondary sources rather than building strongly on primary sources.  

Student work with a score of 13/25 according to the moderator marks

*This example is an average IA fitting in the middle markbands. In most years, the IB markbands list a "13/25" as a "4." There are a lot of areas that can be improved. Note what the student did do well, but take care to find the areas where problems could have been easily avoided. The IB moderator appears to be a bit generous in both part A giving 4 marks as well as in part B awarding 7. In both cases an argument could be made for the lower markband. However, the student does build the argument on primary source evaluation and incorporates secondary sources with his analysis. The thesis is stated in the end rather than the beginning causing problems of structure. The IB grader awarded points for an argument that began with source evaluation of a primary source synthesized with secondary sources. It is more than a summary of events but is lacking perspective-driven critiques that can be seen in the other examples. 

History Extenal Assessment

The IB History External Assessments

Paper 1: Source-based Exam

Paper 2: World History Comparison Two-essay Exam

                  for May 2020: One-essay Exam

Paper 3: History of Europe Three-essay Exam

                 for May 2020: Two-essay Exam (each from a different topic)

Econ IA

The IB Economics Internal Assessment

 In Economics,  the IA is a portfolio consisting of three economic commentaries. Each commentary is a 750-analysis of a current event. Students are required to find an article and identify the economic concepts then evaluate the implications. Each commentary must deal with a different part of the IB syllabus: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and international economics. 

Timeline of Economics IA Portfolio:


Summer between Junior Year and Senior Year:  Students should be gathering a number of articles that deal with economics. It is not necessary that the articles are long, and it is not necessary that the articles are overtly economic in nature. In fact, it is often better to utilize shorter articles and articles of general interest rather than ones that have the economic work already completed for you.  


Each checkpoint is designed to force students to make specific progress on an element of their overall project. Each checkpoint may be a completion grade or an assessed grade or no grade. The same level of attention should be given. 


August 10: Have at least 5 articles available about micro and macro economics

September 15: Microeconomics practice commentary completed

October 15: Microeconomics commentary completed

November 15: Macroeconomics commentary completed

December 15: International economics commentary 

January 15: Digital portfolio including coversheets submitted.  


Econ External Assessment

The IB Economics External Assessments

Paper 1: Micro / Macro Exam

Paper 2: International / Developmental Source-based Exam

Paper 3: Math-based HL Exam

Helpful Information 

Writing Essays fo Economics

Writing Essays for Economics

Just as in any other argumentative essay, an Economics essay must have a thesis, a point that one wishes to prove. Theses are normative statements, that is, that are not something that can be fact checked, but rather are arguments. However, these arguments are made from positive statements, that is to say, statements that may be correct or incorrect but are fact-checkable.


For example:

a positive statement - "the unemployment rate in China has gone up 5% since last year." This may be correct or incorrect, but it is something that we can check, therefore it is a positive economic statement."   

A normative statement - "The rising unemployment in China is due to bad policy decisions by the government." This is a normative economic statement because it is not something that we can check, but rather, it is something that one must prove using logical analysis of positive statements. 

When structuring an economics essay, it is imperative that a student build from a normative thesis, and show logical structure that consists of analysis of positive statements and economic concepts. 

The use of graphs: 

Graphs (sometimes referred to as economic diagrams) are essential for economics essays. 

Graphs show a visual representation of the concepts being discussed.

Students must walk the reader step by step through the graphs. 

An example of a graph and the way it should be explained is as follows: 

PED graph.001.jpeg






"In the graph titled "Good A," the demand curve (D1) illustrates quantity demanded at at each and every price. According to the law of demand, as price decreases the quantity demanded increases and vice vera, ceteris paribus. This can be seen with movement from point W to Z. At point W the price of Good A is $10 and the quantity demanded of Good A is 1 unit. As the price decreases to $1 the the quantity demanded increases from 1 unit to 11 units, illustrated by movement along the demand curve D1 from point W to point Z."

Here is another example that might come later in this same essay

"While the demand curve D1 on the graph labeled "Good A" has a constant slope, the Price Elasticity of Demand (PED) becomes more inelastic as the price decreases. PED is defined as the relative response of the quantity demanded compared to a change in price. When moving from point W to point X along demand curve D1, the price decreased $1 from $10 to $9 and the quantity demanded increased from 1 unit to 2 units. The increase in the QD was a 100% increase since the QD of Good A doubled from 1 to 2 units. This doubling in the QD was a result of the change in price; however, the price decreased by only 10%. Thus, when operating at point W and decreasing the price by 10% the response was a 100% increase in the QD. Therefore, when moving from point W to point X on D1, the demand was very price elastic. However, when moving from point Y to point Z, Good A is price inelastic. At point Y the price of Good A is $2 and the QD is 10 units. A 50% decrease in price leads to only a 10% increase in QD as seen from movement along D1 from point Y to point Z. Therefore, the slope of the demand curve may be constant, but all straight line demands curves have decreasing price elasticities as we move from the perfectly elastic point where D1 crosses the Price axis to the perfectly inelastic point where D1 crosses the Quantity axis."

Notice how often the graph and the individual points are referenced in these examples. The graphs are very helpful in allowing the reader to follow along with the example

Analysis and Evaluation

Economic analysis is when one takes a real world situation (on the ground) and applies the abstract economic concepts (in the clouds) to the situation in order to test whether or not the real world situation matches the economic prediction. 

Evaluation is when one creates an argument as to why the real world situation perfectly matches, or does not match the economic prediction in the abstract economic concept. If some elements match, but others do not, then economic evaluation is an attempt to explain (make an argument) as to why there is discrepancy between the abstract concept and the actual circumstances. 

D.E.E.D.      &.     C.L.A.S.S.P

One popular strategy for analyzing in an economics essay is to make sure that in every instance you "Do the DEED."





Any time you introduce a new term or economic concept you must give a textbook definition. You must explain the definition in your own words and should give a real world example. You need to include ALL relevant diagrams and explain those diagrams as clearly (and sometimes painstakingly slowly). An analysis of a real-world situation (such as in an IA commentary)  is not completed all aspects of DEED have clearly applied the abstract economic concepts to the real world scenario. 


The argument you began with the thesis is completed when you CLASSP it together. CLASSP is an acronym that helps a student remember to cover key elements and view the economic problem(s) from different perspectives. When evaluating (which can only occur after analysis, which in turn, can only be done after one identifies and applies the appropriate economic concepts). 

Conclusion - Make sure you wrap up your argument

Long term versus short term consequences

Assumptions - What assumptions does the theory make? What assumptions are you making? 

Stakeholders - Who are the people that are affected? Are all Groups affected in the same ways?

Priorities - What are the different priorities of the different groups that might be affected, or those who are                                   making economic decisions. 

Pros and cons - What are the benefits and the costs. 

More on Structuring an Economics Essay

Click here for more on structuring as essay especially for paper 1 but beneficial for all essays in class or out of class. 

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