Mathematics IAs are explorations around mathematical topics. There are two broad categories: pure mathematics and applied mathematics. Pure mathematics is when you explore a theoretical topic within maths, such as a conjecture or the value of an irrational number, such as Goldbach’s conjecture or Pascal’s triangle. Applied mathematics IAs revolve around real-life applications of mathematical ideas using methods such as statistical modelling, arc length, volume, surface area, etc.
Choosing between applied or pure mathematics completely depends on the student’s interests. Neither gives an advantage over the other when it comes to the scoring of the IA, which is marked on five criterions:
Coherence, organization and conciseness of the exploration
B: Mathematical Communication
Appropriate mathematical language, the definition of terms and use of deductive reasoning
C: Personal engagement
Shows the extent to which students engage with the topic. It does not only refer to how students personally connect with the topic but also focuses on efforts to consistently explore various mathematical concepts and extensions within the topic.
A good reflective exploration consistently links all steps to the aim, considers limitations of their methods and ways to improve upon the limitations, and reflects upon their learning throughout the exploration.
E: Use of Mathematics
Mathematical concepts relevant to your level (HL/SL) should be used. Students may use concepts beyond the syllabus, but it does not always positively correlate to a higher grade.
Mathematics IAs allow students to explore their preferred areas of the subject, even if it is not part of the HL/SL syllabus. Take this chance to find out more about mathematic concepts that have always interested you!