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Tips to Get Ahead on your IAs during Summer

Summer has finally arrived and, while it is a break from the rush of academic life, it can also be a great time to get ahead on all of the projects and works that will be delivered in year 2. Even though the final year of IB may seem like enough time to work on them, starting early is always better, as it will give you more time to research, reflect, and perfect them in order to gain as many marks as possible. 

Internal Assessments (IAs) are one of the main components of the IBDP and are compulsory for both SL and HL. They are individual research subject-related works and, as their name suggests, they are internally evaluated by your teacher. One of their main benefits is that the student does not need to face the time constraints present during an exam. This article aims to provide some tips to make the most out of this summer in your IA progress.

Read the criteria 

It’s probably one of the main things we hear during the IB, but understanding the marking criteria is essential to start structuring and planning your IA. By reading it, you are more likely to comply with the qualities of good research work within the standards of the IB. You can also get a better idea of the format you should follow (formats may vary depending on the subject). Remember, examiners will use this as a framework to evaluate you, so you must have them under consideration while writing your IA. To gain a clearer understanding of the marking scheme, you can also compare highly-graded works in order to identify any patterns or strategies for success they may have in common. 

Research before writing

Use this time to immerse yourself in the topic you chose. The writing process is often a lot easier when you have fully understood the context and have evaluated different perspectives or methods to answer your research question. The research method varies with the subject, but I prefer to start with YouTube videos that explain basic information more simply and dynamically. For example, if I’m doing my Bio IA, I will first watch a video that explains any concepts or processes that I’m not familiar with or that I would like to review. Then, I will proceed to read documents or textbooks that are more focused on my topic: this is the more extensive and time-consuming step. Finally, I will create a document or a folder to create a compilation of all the sources and useful information I gathered. By doing all the research and compiling it into a “database”, the writing process will be a lot more fluent and faster. A useful tip is to start elaborating the citations from the moment you collect any information from a source. This will reduce the risk of committing plagiarism and will make the task less tedious. 

Set deadlines

You are already doing great by starting early, so it is important that you distribute your time and make a research plan in order to motivate yourself and stop procrastinating. Some teachers provide a delivery schedule, however, in some cases, you are only given the deadline to deliver the first and final draft. In this situation, I recommend making your own timetable to set deadlines for the IA sections and components. If you are doing your IAs during the summer, below is an example of a general timeline. However, it is completely up to you to decide how intense your workload will be, so try to find the deadlines that fit the most with your work pace.

  • Research – 1 week
  • Outline structure and the draft of main arguments – 2 days
  • Introduction – 2 days
  • Discussion/Body – 4 days
  • Conclusion – 1 day
  • Total time spent on the first draft – 16 days

Ask for feedback

Once you have your first draft, you can now focus on implementing suggestions and correcting them. The time you have to ask for feedback and apply it is one of the main advantages of starting early since you have more time to work on your drafts and teachers usually give deeper and more complete feedback the earlier you deliver them. I also recommend doing peer-reviewing with your classmate. This has been super helpful in my IB journey, and it can be a great alternative if your teacher only gives you a few feedback sessions. Also keep in mind small details that can elevate the quality of your work, such as the formality of your writing or the conciseness and clarity of your wording.

Overall, I think these tips can be really useful to get the most out of the time you have in summer and have a clearer perspective on where to start since a lot of the time it can be scary to start this process by yourself. I know it can sometimes be hard to spend your vacation time working on academic stuff, but getting ahead on your IAs and other larger projects will give you more room to really perfect your work as you wish and can alleviate some pressure off your second year!


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