IA changes

As the new curriculum is rolled out, there are many things to get our heads around.  There are several changes to the internal assessment.

First, there are changes in the nature of the report.

Secondly, there are changes in the way that the internal assessment will be assessed.

Below you will see the changes to expect in the new curriculum.  Remember, this will be for the students that will submit IAs for the May 2019 session.  For your current students, it is business as usual.

Changes in the writing of the report


  1. SL and HL write the same report and are assessed the same way.  All reports have a maximum of 2200 words.
  2. The required report headings have been changed to: Introduction, Exploration, Analysis, Evaluation, References
  3. All students must replicate a study.  They are not allowed to make significant changes to a study or create their own research study.
  4. Students must work in a group.  The must be a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 group members.  Students may also choose to collaborate virtually with another student or students in other IB World Schools.
  5. Children under 12 may not be used as participants.


  1. There will no longer be a review of literature.  The study to be replicated and the theory upon which that study is based must be explained. 
  2. The importance of the study must be explained.


  1. The choice of participants must be described and explained.
  2. Students must explain how materials were developed and why those choices were made.
  3. Controls must be explained.
  4. All students must have a null & research hypothesis.


  1. All students must apply both descriptive and inferential statistics.
  2. Students no longer have to justify their choice of statistics.  It is also recognized that the t-test is a robust test and may be used to determine the significance of the data.
  3. Calculations of descriptive statistics are no longer required in the appendices. Students are still required to have the calculations of their inferential stats in the appendices of the report.
  4. A discussion of the data should appear in the analysis section.


  1. The findings must be linked to the theory in the introduction.
  2. Strengths of the student's study must be discussed.
  3. There is more clarity in the teacher support materials regarding limitations.  If a student makes a mistake, it is not a limitation - and the study should be rerun.  It is not acceptable for students to include limitations such as: we forgot to read the standardized directions in one of the groups; we did not accurately measure the time it took because of poor equipment; there was a lot of distraction because we did the study in a hallway.  These will earn no credit.

Changes in the assessment of the IA

  1. Ethics are no longer assessed.  They only need to be met. The ethical considerations must be in the organization section and there must be evidence of meeting those requirements in the appendices.  If these are lacking, the report may earn zero marks.
  2. Since all team members must use a standardized procedure which should be approved by the teacher, it is no longer assessed.  It must be included to inform the reader of how the research was carried out.  It may be in bullet form or written as a paragraph.
  3. There are no presentation marks. Students are expected to follow formatting standards, but they are not assessed on this.
  4. Citation is not assessed. However, not attributing ideas of others included in the report is academic misconduct. If there are not citations or it is clear that citation is lacking, the student may not be awarded a grade for the subject.
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Comments 15

Diane Howlett 19 June 2017 - 12:31

I am a little confused. Above you wrote 'Students must work in a group' but reading about the IA in 'A: Getting Started' it states that 'The experiment may be carried out alone or in a group of up to four students'. Which is correct? Thanks!

John Crane 20 June 2017 - 08:07

Dear Diane - the IA section A. Getting started is for the current curriculum. So, students may work alone for this final group going through the current curriculum. Once we are in the new curriculum, then that will no longer be true. There is a section on the new IA requirements in the new curriculum textbook (see tabs above). There will also be IA material available for the new curriculum by the end of the summer. Sorry for the confusion.

SREEJITH A.P 28 August 2017 - 11:53

Do we need to follow these changes for the 2016-2018 batch students? or for the new curriculum. I am little confused, because my students already submitted their IA report. I followed the IB guide 2011. Please guide me

John Crane 28 August 2017 - 11:57

The students who will sit the exams in 2018 still follow the "old" course guidelines. These new guidelines are for first exams May 2019.

SREEJITH A.P 28 August 2017 - 12:00

Sorry sir, i just read only the content i didn't read the beginning part, thank you very much.

Mary MacPherson 19 September 2017 - 14:20

Hi John,
Is the max word count 2000 or 2200? I seem to remember seeing it was a range (1800-2200).

John Crane 20 September 2017 - 12:54

Dear Mary - thanks for this. This decision was made after I posted this. I have updated the page.

Mary MacPherson 15 November 2017 - 16:10

Hi John,
A quick question. In the past, I have had students who get data supporting the inverse of their one-tailed hypothesis. In this case they have accepted the null (because it is one-tailed) and acknowledged that the inferential analysis shows the inverse. Should they be rejecting both hypotheses in this case? So far, it has been ok to accept the null but this may change with the new curriculum. Have you had this happen?

John Crane 15 November 2017 - 16:49

Dear Mary, yes. They should reject the null hypothesis because the difference is significant. However, they cannot support their hypothesis because the difference is in the opposite direction of their one tailed hypothesis. They simply need to explain this in their results. It is not a problem.

Gregory Shaw 11 January 2018 - 18:39

John, Should we still have students include an Abstract of their IA report?

John Crane 13 January 2018 - 14:12

No. The abstract is no longer part of the report. Including one will only increase the student's word count.

Mary MacPherson 6 February 2018 - 17:48

Hi John,
I have a question regarding replication again. I work at a Chinese Immersion School in the US and many of my students started in grade 1 and learned math in Chinese. Some of them are fascinated by Baddely's work with Chinese vs. English and digit span. The issue is that most of these studies are quasi (comparing Chinese and English speakers). Is it possible to replicate something like this and turn it into a true experiment by testing Chinese Immersion students for digit span in Chinese and English? It seems like a great IA but I don't want to get in trouble for changing the design from quasi to true.

John Crane 7 February 2018 - 13:41

I think that they can do this. They have to base their research on a study, but they do not need to replicate it if they are HL. SL students must replicate. In the new program, neither level must replicate.

Mary MacPherson 9 February 2018 - 14:42

Hi John,
Thanks for the response. I am a bit confused, however, because when I went to the SSS for the new curriculum I was told SL and HL must replicate.

John Crane 10 February 2018 - 09:03

The HL in the "current program" is allowed to modify the IA. They are not required to replicate. Only SL. In the new guide, it says: "The study on which the experiment is based may have several conditions for the Independent Variable. Students may choose to replicate all the conditions or choose to simplify the experiment and choose two conditions for their own experiment." In the new curriculum, there is also teacher support material. It does not say that students must replicate a study. I fear that what you heard at your SSS was incorrect.

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