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Tuesday Top Tips - spotlight on Criterion E for the IA (HL & SL)

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Tuesday Top Tips - spotlight on Criterion E for the IA (HL & SL)

By Vivien Jack

Here are my favourite tips for Criterion E.

HL IA Criterion E - Conclusions (written report) (Top mark band 3 marks)

Most students can manage to get 2 out of 3 marks. Often there are silly and avoidable errors that prevent students reaching the highest markband. Students should be guided to:

  1. Adhere to the word count limit - Moderators and examiners strictly abide by the word limit. Any text beyond the 2,000th word in the written report will not be marked. Unfortunately, this often means the conclusion is not marked, causing the student to get zero for Criterion E. Also, putting text in tables to circumvent the word count limit instead of a valid use of tables will not be viewed upon kindly by moderators and examiners.

  2. Answer the commentary question - Sometimes, students present an inconclusive answer to the commentary question. An example of an inconclusive answer would be “In conclusion, there are pros and cons for Company XYZ to expand into Country A.” I tell students to pick a side and make a strong argument for that side so that when they reach the conclusion. A definitive answer to their commentary question makes it clear and explicit for the moderator or examiner to award the top markband.

  3. Have separate sections for Conclusions and Recommendations - Moderators and examiners have stated that some students confuse conclusions for recommendations and vice versa. The easiest workaround for this is to make conclusions and recommendations distinct from each other in the written report so it is very clear to the moderator and examiner what was concluded, and therefore to reward Criterion E appropriately.

SL IA Criterion E - Evaluation (written report) (Top mark band 4 marks)

This is a challenging criterion for the SL IA. The following advice can help students elevate their success in this criterion:

  • Evaluate throughout the commentary - The top markband requires “thorough evidence of evaluation”. Therefore, evaluation should be conducted after the analysis of each tool/technique/theory used in the main body of the written commentary.

  • Useful evaluation sentence starters* include:

  1.     On balance, given the above findings, …
  2.     The significance (or implications) from these findings suggest …
  3.     Based on these findings, it can be argued that ...

* Otago Polytechnic has a good list of useful sentence starters and transitional words that can be found here.

  • Substantiate evaluations from the supporting documents (SDs) - A well substantiated evaluation uses evidence from the three to five SDs to justify all points of view. This is indirectly influenced by the quality of the SDs. Therefore, SDs should be chosen wisely to present depth and breadth of views on the issue.

Also take a look here for further guidance on all assessment criteria for the HL IA:

SL students can use this link for advice on understanding the SL IA assessment criteria:

If you have any other useful evaluation sentence starters, I would love to hear them in the comments.

All the best!

Tags: Top tips, Internal Assessment, HL IA, SL IA


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