IB Internal Assessment: The Most Oversimplified Guide

If you’ve decided to enroll in IB instead of Advanced Placement, you need to learn and understand everything there is to know about Internal Assessment, CAS projects, Extended Essay, and Theory of Knowledge.

This guide focuses specifically on IB Internal Assessments. Specifically, we look at the definition, why it matters, the subject groups, the base grading criteria, and everything in between.

Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Internal assessments are assignments marked by your teacher.
  • You will write 3 to 5 IAs, with the focus being on both the Standard and Higher Level. 
  • Students are free to choose a topic they find fascinating and work within the criteria of the assignment.
  • Your IA should be on one of the six areas approved by IB.

What is IB Internal Assessment?

IB Internal Assessment refers to any assignment graded by your teacher internally.

The IB diploma requires you to do 3 to 5 Internal Assessments out of the six subject groups. You’re free to select which subjects you want to work on, as well as the IA topics that you find fascinating.

Examples of subjects include Physics, Economics, Computer Science, English, and Mathematics. However, do keep in mind that your IAs should a mix of Standard and Higher Levels in IB.

IB internal assessments can be in the form of oral presentations, essays, artistic performances, lab experiments, mathematical investigations, oral presentations, or written commentaries. For example, the IB Economics IA requires you to write 3 commentaries within the 2-year period.

Because your teacher marks these internal assessments, consulting them can go a long way to help you bump up your grades. 

What’s an External Assessment?

An external assessment is any assignment that your teacher doesn’t grade. Your school will have these papers moderated internally but then send them to IB for grading.

Good examples are the extended essay and the exams submitted at the end of the completion of the IB diploma program.

Upon their completion, the exams and extended essays fall into the hands of external examiners who have never been to your school before. These professionals, hired solely by IB organization, are the ones that grade these papers.

What’s the Purpose of IB Internal Assessment?

The purpose of IB internal assessment is to enable students to master advanced academic skills that will help to shape their future. 

During grading, your teacher will look at how you analyze and present information, how you evaluate and construct arguments, as well as whether you can use creativity to solve problems.

At the end of the 2-year course, you should have a solid base on key concepts and the ability to retain knowledge and apply standard methods.

Are Internal Assessments Subject to Strict Moderation?

During the 2-year course, you may notice that some teachers are very strict when it comes to grading internal assessments.

However, a higher level of strictness should not bother you because IB has systems in place to ensure fairness in the grading process.

Specifically, IB has external examiners who will moderate some IAs from every school to ensure teachers don’t favor some students over others. This fair policy is particularly significant owing to how challenging the program is.

In practice, the examiner looks at whether your teacher graded the assignment fairly or harshly. Depending on their drawn conclusion, they will make necessary adjustments to the scores, so you end up getting the grades that you truly deserve.

IB Internal Assessment Grade Distribution

The grade distribution for IB IAs depends on the subject. For example, science subjects account for an overall 20% of the final grade and design and technology can be worth up to 40% of the final grades.

We strongly recommend that you check the assessment criteria for the subject for which you intend to write an IA before you get started.

Note that these assessment criteria come from IB, not your school. Your teacher will evaluate you based on the criteria attached to a specific subject and they’ll account for every section of the grade descriptor to award marks.

The most common criteria used across all subjects are:

  • Research
  • Data analysis
  • Personal engagement
  • Conclusion and evaluation
  • Presentation

Our Advice on Internal Assessments

Your goal is to earn good grades for the three to five internal assessments that you will write. Thus, you must put in the hard work to bump up your grades.

If you can’t score a 7, at least get a 6 or 5, which should be a good grade based on the assessment criteria. 

1. Start Early

Procrastination is perhaps the most common problem in schools these days. This idea that you’ll do an assignment tomorrow because you still have enough time is a lie.

If you’re telling yourself that you’ll do something tomorrow because the deadlines are far from approaching, you’re in the wrong course.

To be brutally honest, IB isn’t as easy. To do well in your IAs, you need to start working on them early. So begin the work as soon as your teacher issues the work to you.

2. Choose Subjects Carefully

You need to get this right before you move to the next step. So check out our guide on how to choose IB subjects.

The bottom line is that IB allows you to focus on the subjects of your choice. However, you shouldn’t choose them merely randomly. Spend enough time on subject selection to get it this right.

3. Select the Best Topics

You also need to ensure you choose then right topics before you start working on your IA. We understand that the ideation process can be so complex that it takes an entire afternoon to a few days. However, spending time on topic selection can often yield the best results.

Final Thoughts

The internal assessments are mandatory for all students who wish to graduate with IB diploma after the 2-year course.

For what it’s worth, you can even rely on the IAs and respective predicted grades for the outcome if you’re not in a good fit to take IB exams. In such a case, your IAs acts as the only evaluation source or material.

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