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Understanding IB Internal Assessment: A Key Aspect of Academic Evaluation

Understanding IB Internal Assessment: A Key Aspect of Academic Evaluation

What is the IB Internal Assessment?

The IB diploma program has several components that result in a more holistic approach to the academic evaluation of a student’s performance. The IB Internal Assessment is one such component, which is used to evaluate a student’s performance in each subject and considered simultaneously with external assessments like the final examinations. The internal assessment is graded internally by your teachers, but moderated by external IB examiners. It varies from subject to subject and takes different forms

  • Oral work in languages
  • Fieldwork in geography
  • Laboratory work in the sciences
  • Investigation in mathematics
  • Artistic performances

How are the Internal Assessments graded?

The internal assessments (IAs) by definition are graded by the teachers of your school. However, to standardise the grading and make it more fair, the IAs are externally moderated.  The IB examiners take a sample of IAs from each school and moderate them to check if they have been fairly graded by the teachers and whether the grading has adhered to the IB guidelines. If your teacher has graded you too harshly or too leniently, the examiner will adjust the scores of the whole class (not just the sample) to make the grading more fair and accurate. 

Subject-wise IA contribution to final grade

The contribution of the IB Internal Assessment to your final grade in the subject (which is out of 7 points for each of the 6 subjects you choose) depends on two things the subject type and group, the level you are studying the subject in (SL/HL). Here are the weightages for each subject group (as defined by the IB) and type on a level basis. There are 6 main subject groups

DP Language and Literature Subject Group 

This is usually your first language (which is typically English). For this subject group, there is an individual oral (IO) usually, except for literature and performance which has a transformative performance and IO both that are internally assessed. The IO is usually 10 minutes in which the student has to analyse their chosen works and then there are 5 minutes of the teacher asking the student questions about their analysis.

Language A Literature (SL/HL)

If you opt for this option, then the IO weightage for SL is 30% of the final grade and for HL, it is 20% of the final grade. The reason the IA contribution to the final grade is less for HL is because HL students have the additional component of an HL essay. For instance, I took IB English Literature HL and so my IO was of lesser importance than my friend who took SL as I also had to do the HL which took up some of the weightage in the final grade. In the IO, the student has to prepare an oral response to a work originally written in the language studied and a translated work. The texts have to be from any 2 works the student studied in the 2-year DP course. The IO is a total of 40 marks, 10 marks for each of the 4 criteria assessed. 

Language A Language and Literature (SL/HL)

The division for this is the same as that for Literature. However, if you opt for this option, the IO requires the student to prepare an oral response to one literary work and one non-literary body of work from the works studied in the 2-year DP course

Language A Literature and Performance (SL)

This is only available at standard level and the internal assessment here is worth 40% of your final grade. The internal assessment comprises a transformative performance that requires a student to transform an extract from a non-dramatic work into a piece of theatre performed in front of a live audience. In the individual oral (15 minutes), students are required to explain their process of transforming the extract into a performance. 

DP Language Acquisition Subject Group 

This is usually your second language. The internal assessment is an individual oral, unless you opt for the classical language option in which case it’s a research dossier.

Classical Language (SL/HL)

This is designed for students that have already been introduced to Latin or Classical Greek. The Internal Assessment is a research dossier consisting of an annotated collection of 7-9 primary source materials that answers a question on a topic related to classical language, literature or culture. The weightage is 30% for SL and 20% for HL

Language B (SL/HL)  

This course is designed for those who already have some competence in the language chosen. The individual oral here is worth 25% for both HL and Sl and is out of 30 marks. The oral is based on a visual stimulus related to any of the 5 themes defined by the IB.

Language ab initio (SL)

This course is designed for beginners in the language who have never studied the language before. The individual oral weightage here is also 25% and is of the same format. 

DP Individuals and Societies Subject Group

There are several subjects that fall under this subject group. I have included only the most popular

Economics (SL/HL)

The weightage of the internal assessment for economics is 30% for SL and 20% for HL as HL has an additional paper 3. The internal assessment is 3 commentaries based on different units of the syllabus and publish extracts from the news, media, etc

History (SL/HL)  

The weightage of the history internal assessment is 25% for SL and 20% for HL as HL as the additional component – Paper 3. The internal assessment is an historical investigation into a topic of your choice from those defined by the IB. The investigation is written and submitted in the form of an essay/paper in answer to a research question (that is formulated by the student). 


The weightage of the geography internal assessment is also 25% for SL and 20% for HL as HL has an additional paper 3. The internal assessment is one written report based on fieldwork question in one syllabus topic, collection of information and evaluation. 

Business Management(SL/HL)

The weightage is 30% for SL and 20% for HL as HL has Paper 3. The internal assessment for BM is a research project on a business issue of a particular organisation from a conceptual lens.

Psychology (SL/HL)

The weightage is 25% for SL and 20% for HL. The IA involves a report on an experimental study undertaken by the student. 

The other subjects in this group and their specifications can be found in the IB official website. 

Also read The Diary Entry Of An IB MYP Student

DP Sciences Subject Group

The updated 2023 syllabus for Biology, Chemistry and Physics has an internal assessment component that is worth 20% of the final grade for both SL and HL. The IA for these subjects is a scientific investigation that involves an experiment in which students collect and analyse data to produce a lab report. The investigation is usually an exploration into a scientific concept that the student is personally interested in (as personal engagement is a criteria the IA is assessed on).  The maximum word count of the report is 3000 words. There are many other science subjects under this group, some of the common ones are

Computer Science(SL/HL)

The weightage for SL is 30% and the weightage for Hl 25%. The internal assessment for SL involves the development of a computational solution and the internal assessment for HL involves a report of the development of a computational solution

Environmental Science (SL/HL)

The weightage for SL is 25% and for HL, it is 20%. The internal assessment involves an individual investigation in which students collect and analyse data to answer a research question they formulated themselves.

Other sciences under this subject include Design technology and sports,exercise and health science whose specifications you can find on the IB’s official site 

DP Mathematics Subject Group

There are only two types of mathematics usually offered

Mathematics Analysis and Approaches (SL/HL)

The internal assessment is worth 20% for both SL and HL. It is a mathematical exploration into a topic of your choice that involves a concept you have studied in the course. Usually topics involve real life applications and are specific to the personal interest of the student. For instance, for my mathematics IA, I studied the application of differential equations in romantic relationships.

Mathematics Applications and Interpretations (SL/HL)

The internal assessment is same in task and weightage as Mathematics AA. 

DP Arts Subject Group

There are several types of art that fall under this group. The common ones are

Visual Arts(Sl/HL)

The internal assessment is an exhibition that is worth both 40% for SL and HL. The exhibition includes a curatorial rationale(400 words for SL and 700 words for HL), artworks(4-7 for SL, 8-11 for HL) and an exhibition text. 

Theatre (SL/HL)

The weightage is 30% for SL and 20% for HL. The IA is a production proposal (maximum word count 4000 words and 12 page limit) of a published play text that students have not previously studied. 

Music (SL/HL)

SL has only one internal component- experimenting with music that’s worth 30%. It involves students submitting an experimentation report with evidence of their musical process. For HL, this component is worth 20%. HL has another internal component called the Contemporary Music-Maker that is worth 30% which involves a multimedia presentation showcasing their real-life project. 

Besides these subjects, the group also includes Dance and Film whose specifications you can find on the IB’s official site. 

Tips and Advice for the IAs

Now that you know what the IA is for each subject, here are some general tips and advice to keep in mind for your IAs

Do not take the IA lightly

For all subjects, it’s a significant portion of your grade and can often save your grade by compensating for any mistakes you may make in the final examination. It can make or break your IB score, so give it it’s due importance

Start IAs for the Sciences early

More than any other subject group, the sciences require a larger amount of time for their IAs because of the lab experimentation they include. As there can be several errors, miscalculations and revisits  to the lab, make sure to choose your rough IA topic by the end of 11th grade, so you can research and plan in the summer and can do the experimentation in the beginning of 12th. 

For languages, take your practice orals seriously

Most schools have students practise orals on different texts before they do the final one. Learn from your mistakes in these orals and pay attention to your teacher’s feedback as it could significantly improve your performance in the real oral. 

Pay attention to the criteria you are being assessed in

Each of the IAs have a specific criteria of assessment that you should read thoroughly in order to excel. The criteria contains crucial information about what to include in your submission. For instance, in mathematics and science, personal engagement is a criteria which is why students often create narratives in their IA that showcase why they are interested in that particular topic. 

Do not leave your IA till the last minute

While the official deadline for submitting the internal assessment to the IB is 20th April, most schools expect their students to submit their work to their teachers at least a month earlier. Make sure to have several drafts of your IA, get feedback and have everything done before the deadline. 

If you keep these pointers in mind, there is no reason for you not to succeed in your internal assessment. Best of luck!

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