The Exploration - student support material

IA for Maths SL & HL - The Exploration

Student Support Material

The following is a set of guidelines for students to support them in successfully completing their Exploration to satisfy the Internal Assessment (IA) requirement for either Mathematics SL or Mathematics HL.

The Basics

1. What is a brief description, or overview, of Internal Assessment (IA) in IB Maths SL and IB Maths HL?

IA in Maths SL & HL consists of a single internally assessed (i.e. marked by your teacher) component called a Mathematical Exploration (or just simply, the Exploration). Your Exploration will contribute 20% to your overall score for the course. Some students' Explorations will be selected to be included in a sample that will be submitted to the IB for moderation to achieve a common standard of assessment across schools.

2. In thirty words or less, what is the Exploration?

It is a short report (6-12 pages) that explores a topic chosen by you in consultation with your teacher with a particular focus on the mathematics of the topic.

3. How is the Exploration assessed?

Your Exploration is assessed according to five criteria, A to E, shown in the table below.
Use the links below to download a one-page document containing the Exploration criteria for each course:

Exploration criteria HL        Exploration criteria SL

Criterion A maximum of 4 marks Communication
Criterion B maximum of 3 marks Mathematical Presentation
Criterion C maximum of 4 marks Personal Engagement
Criterion D maximum of 3 marks Reflection
Criterion E maximum of 6 marks Use of Mathematics

Your Exploration will earn a total mark out of 20.

4. What is the difference between an Exploration and an Extended Essay in Mathematics ?

The best and most succinct answer is that the Exploration is not a Matheamatics Extended Essay. The Extended Essay is a significant research paper that will take a few months to write. The Exploration will likely require some research but much less than that for an Extended Essay.  The scope of an Exploration should be narrower and should generally not exceed 12 pages. A common error is that the scope of an Exploration is too broad - and would benefit from being more tightly focused.

5. What is the difference between an Exploration in Maths SL and an Exploration in Maths HL?

All the descriptors for each criteria are the same for HL and SL except criterion E - Use of Mathematics. The mathematics in an HL Exploration needs to be precise, sophisticated & rigouress and contains mathematics that is at an appropriate level for HL.

6. Who is the 'target audience' for an Exploration?

Your Exploration should be written so that it can be understood by the other students in your math class. It is not necessary to explain every concept and mathematical item in great detail - but also it should not be so advanced and/or complicated that your fellow students are not able to follow it.

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