Academic Group 3 Subjects

Overview: IB Business Management HL/SL (First Assessment 2024)

Note: The Business Management course changed recently. This article goes through the IB Business Management HL/SL course for the May 2024 cohort and beyond.

Do you want to investigate the relationship between people, businesses, and society while developing yourself as a creative, compassionate business leader or entrepreneur? Or are you interested in finding out how a variety of internal and external stakeholders are impacted by business decisions and how these choices are affected by internal and external factors? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then IB Business Management might be a subject for you!


IB Business Management courses focus on business operations, management procedures, and decision-making. It consists of 5 units:

  • Introduction to Business Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Finance and Accounts
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management

Most changes made to the IB Business Management curriculum are related to different subtopics. For example, subtopic 1.2 Types of Organization in the old syllabus has been renamed as 1.2 Types of Business Entities in the new syllabus. In other cases, subtopics have been moved to other units entirely. For instance, 3.2 Break Even Analysis has been moved to Unit 5.5. There are also some new additions to the syllabus. For example, topic 5.8 Management Information System to prepare students for the 21st century.

The IB also introduces the Business Management Toolkit in the syllabus, a collection of 15 tools, theories, and concepts that students can use to examine various multidisciplinary business contexts across the curriculum and in assessments (IAs and EE). You can find the official subject brief with the 2024 curriculum for SL here and HL here.

Key Concepts

Key concepts will help students to explore each unit from interdisciplinary and multiple perspectives. The new curriculum will start each unit with conceptual understanding statements that include the following four key concepts:

  • Creativity
  • Change
  • Ethics
  • Sustainability

Key concepts can be used to summarize significant concepts and fundamental methods that are at the center of the unit. For those who are studying the old syllabus (M16 – N23), you might notice only two in CUEGIS (Change, Culture, Ethics, Globalization, Innovation, and Strategy) remain – “Change” and “Ethics”. More importantly, students are required to use key concepts in their Internal Assessment when they need to solve real-world business problems. That is in addition to applying their business management tools and theories to solve the issues. More information about key concepts can be found here.

IB Business Management Assessment

Paper 1 (SL/HL)

Both SL and HL students now have approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete Paper 1. While still based on an extended case study, it will now only be partly pre-released as a 200-word introduction and a list of topics providing the theme and context. These topics will require about five hours of research from the students. It evaluates students’ understanding of business topics that were not in the syllabus to  account for the dynamic nature of business. During the exam, students will receive a booklet with an unrevealed case study to use (800 – 1,000 words). Paper 1 could be on any of the five units, except for HL only topics. Paper 1 is out of 30 marks: 20 for section A and 10 for section B. This makes up 35% of your course grade for SL and 25% for HL.

Paper 2 (SL/HL)

In Paper 2, most of the questions are quantitative and demand in-depth analysis and evaluation utilizing business theories and techniques, but they will be similar to the old syllabus format. An examination booklet will be given to students, including stimulus material, as well as charts, tables, and infographics. 

All five units of the syllabus can be assessed. Due to additional material that covers HL-only topics, section A has one additional question for HL students. One of the section B stimulus options for SL students can be focused on social enterprise (non-profit or for-profit organizations). SL students will have 1 hour 30 minutes and HL students will have 1 hour 45 minutes to complete the paper. 

For section A, SL students must respond to both sets of structured questions based on the case study (total of 20 marks) and HL students will be required to respond to three sets of structured questions (total of 30 marks). Both SL and HL students must respond to 1 out of 2 questions in section B, along with an extended response question based on the stimulus material, for a total of 20 points. For SL and HL, Paper 2 accounts for 35% and 30% of students’ course grades, respectively.

Paper 3 (HL Only)

The new Paper 3 requires students to identify and describe a human need and any potential organizational obstacles that a social entrepreneur might encounter to address this need. The paper is intended to align with the CAS program’s goals, the IB mission statement, and the goals of the new course. Stimulus material will consist of a brief introduction, followed by excerpts from emails, Twitter feeds, and newspaper articles. Students must complete a single compulsory structure set of questions based on that stimulus material provided in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Students will then suggest a plan of action as a strategic move for the social enterprise. For HL, Paper 3 accounts for 25% of students’ course grades.

Internal Assessment

For the new syllabus, the Internal Assessment will be common for both SL and HL. For SL students, the IA is relatively more important because it makes up 30% of their course grade, compared to 20% for HL students. Utilizing one of the four key concepts, students are required to conduct research on a current or existing real business issue affecting a specific organization. Their research questions can be forward or backward-looking and are based on secondary research questions. The word count limit for the Business IA is 1800 words. More information about Internal Assessment can be found here.


IB Business Management is thought to be a relatively straightforward course. The exercise is straightforward if you are familiar with the material covered in the five parts of your syllabus, the case study you get before the exam, and maximizing your mark on your IA. This course will give you insight into all principles: marketing, business organization, human resource management, finance, operations, etc. I strongly recommend that you choose IB Business Management if you plan to study a business-related major at university.

You may also like…

  1. Joseph Quek’s How to prepare for the Business Management Case Study (from an SL student)
  2. Wangari Mbuthia’s Tips for Business Management SL IA
  3. Elena Alimin’s Overview: Business Management HL IA

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