Recently, I’ve heard that many first year Diploma students are just beginning to start IB IAs. It’s probably all starting to feel a bit more ‘real’ now, but don’t panic! I’m here to help you make the best start possible with my simple 5-point checklist – five things to keep in mind when you start to plan and write your IAs. Remember, your IAs often contribute to a reasonable percentage (!!) of your overall grade in a subject. Therefore, it’s a great idea to try and get as many marks ‘in the bag’ before you’ve even sat any exams! If ever you need extra support with IAs or other IB essays, our amazing tutors can help you through our Online Private Tuition Assignment Package! Check it out here!

Okay, now for my checklist!

  1. Set the Question/Topic

Before you start the writing process of an IA, you want to spend plenty of time thinking about your topic and a research question/title. If you choose the wrong topic or question at this stage, it’ll only cause you more problems as you go along. So, it’s worth devoting time to coming up with the right thing. Your teachers should be able to give you some guidance on whether a topic is too broad, or too narrow etc. So don’t be scared to approach your teachers and get their advice!

  1. Structure

Again, before you start writing the bulk of an IA, think about how to structure your essay. For a lot of subjects, you’ll be expected to structure your IA in a specific format (look it up from your teacher/on the IBO website). So, it’s a good idea to check this out before you start writing. The worst thing to do is produce an excellent draft, but then have to go back and spend time rearranging paragraphs to fit the expected structure! Let’s take a look at the History IA guidelines (from the IBO) as an example:

With the History IA you are assessed on three sections: identification and evaluation of sources, investigation, and reflection. Use these three sections to structure your essay. I would even include subtitles to emphasise these three sections, just to make it clear to the examiner that you understand the IA structure, and what each section wants from you!

  1. Sources

It’s important to spend time finding a range of sources to inform your IAs. I know it can be tempting to rush the research process because you want to get straight on with actually writing the essay. But having a wide range of the right sources is crucial. So, try not to just stick to information in your textbooks. Branch out! Use a range of sources such as:

  • journal articles
  • books
  • podcasts
  • documentaries
  • adverts
  • websites
  • archive material

There is so much out there to explore that you can analyse in your arguments!

  1. Start early!

If you speak to any IB Diploma graduate I’m sure they’ll all say the same thing. Don’t leave your IAs to the last minute! It might seem so tempting to delay the process now, because your final year seems so far away at this stage, right? But I promise, if you stick to IA deadlines and get as much out of the way now, you’ll thank yourself in a year’s time! Some of your teachers might set internal deadlines, by which point your IAs must be submitted. But if not, I suggest creating your own timetable; plan to complete some of your IAs by the end of this year. Whenever I left tasks or essays until the last minute, I could never be sure that I’d always have left myself enough time…

  1. Backup your Work!

This last one might seem like an obvious point. But the amount of times I’ve seen friends in a major panic because they’ve lost a big essay document… Not fun. Make sure you back up your IAs as you go along on (on a USB stick for example, or on Google Drive). Then, if something does happen to any of your documents, hopefully you won’t have to start all over again.

And there we have it! My key takeaway from this week’s blog is that spending time to plan your IB IAs effectively, before you start writing, will save you time in the long run. Don’t forget to check out our Online Private Tuition Assignment Package. Another way to learn how to save time is by using your syllabus properly!! It’s one of the easiest ways to revise effectively … check below!

Learn to use the syllabus for your revision!