1. What Exactly Is a Science IA?

1.1 About the Science IA

The Science IA is an internal assessment that makes up 20% of your final grade. Students are expected to create a 6-12 page research paper with a topic of their choice and the criteria is the same for all the science subjects ( Biology, Chemistry, and Physics ).

There are several ways to conduct your investigation for your science IA. Most of the IAs utilise the Laboratory Investigation where students will write their IA after conducting an experiment themselves.

1.2 Distribution of Marks

The distribution of marks is the same for both SL and HL students. The criteria includes the following five components: Personal Engagement, Exploration, Analysis, Evaluation, and Communication.

Personal EngagementExplorationAnalysisEvaluationCommunication

As you can see, the IA puts a lot of focus on Exploration, Analysis and Evaluation as each of them makes up 25% of your IA. So don’t forget the importance of these components!

1.3 The Process

Here is the process of crafting your IA:

  1. Deciding the topic
  2. Research
  3. Conducting the experiment
  4. Analysing the results
  5. Constructing the IA

After deciding your topic, you should conduct some research on what you need to know and think about how you are going to conduct your experiment. You can then conduct your experiment and analyse the results from the data.

Finally, you should ask your teacher for feedback while completing your IA.

The process of deciding the topic, conducting the experiment and constructing the IA are the most important components when it comes to boosting your score. Don’t worry, this article is here to help you with these!

2. How Should You Write Your Science IA?

2.1 3 Things That You Should Be Careful Of

  • Make a plan and don’t wonder off

Because the IA requires dedication and time, there is a need for you to make a solid plan before starting. Sometimes, it might take longer than you think depending on the experiment as things that you don’t expect might happen. Be sure to give yourself some time for the experiment when planning your schedule. That way, you can have enough time for writing your IA!

  • Use your teachers’ feedback

Your science teacher is going to be your IA examiner so the IB limits the amount of time your teacher help you in order to protect your originality. For science, this time is limited to 10 hours.

As a result, your feedback time is limited to only once or twice. Use this time wisely and give your best shot. Your draft should be a completed IA so that your teacher can give you advice on how to bring it to a higher level.

2.2 Understanding the Components

<Personal Engagement>

The personal engagement component is where you should show your personal interest in the topic as well as originality.

Things that you should consider

  • Talk about your personal experience and explain why you chose to research on the topic
  1. If your experiment is very simple, you will have to come up with ways that can make it more complicated.
  2. If you can’t change your experiment, you should consider increasing the uniqueness of your variables in order to show originality.
  3. Use first person pronouns when explaining your thoughts and personal experiences.


This component evaluates the student’s scientific inquiry, whether the research question is clear and focused, and whether the appropriate concepts and methods are used in the IA. Safety, environmental and moral considerations will also be evaluated.

Things that you should consider

  • The Research Question, Introduction, Background, Hypothesis, and Methodology components will be evaluated in this section.
  • Make sure your research question is clear enough.

(ex. Use the phrase “How does ______ affect _____ ?” in order to make the dependent variables and the independent variables clear.)

  • Make sure that you have thoroughly explained the relevant information and knowledge needed for your experiment.
  • Check whether the methodology is the best one out of all the possible methodologies.


This component evaluates whether you can draw a conclusion from the data that you have recorded during your experiment.

Things that you should consider

  • In order to have the perfect analysis for the IA, you should explain how the experimental results are related to the research question.
  • Talk about the variations in measurements and analyse your data.
  • The accuracy of your data is very important in this section. Talk about why errors and uncertainties occurred during the experiment when there are outliers.
  • Make sure you repeat your experiment for at least 3-5 times in order to improve accuracy.


This section evaluates whether the experimental results fully supports the hypothesis. Students should explain the conclusion, the weakness, and the improvements of the experiment.

Things that you should consider

  • Explain how you would improve your experiment for the future in order to obtain a higher accuracy in the results.
  • Explain the reason for the errors and which type of error it was (systematic error or random error).
  • Explain ways that can reduce outliers such as changing the methodology or increasing the number of trials.
  • State what didn’t go well during the experiment and what you did to make it work in the end


This component looks at whether the student has effectively presented the contents of the experiment and the results. This is evaluated through the presentation of the data and the entire IA.

Things that you should consider

  • Use colours for your graphs and figures so that it is visually pleasant.
  • Number your figures so that it is easy to refer to them throughout the IA.
  • Don’t go over the page count.
  • Let other people who don’t know anything about science read your IA, such as parents and siblings, and see whether they can understand it.

3. What You Should Remember

3.1 Advice for Choosing Your Topic

  • Don’t get too creative!

The personal engagement section of the IA is only a small portion of your IA mark. This means that the IB puts more value on whether you have effectively used a methodology to achieve your goals and whether your analysis of the results are detailed enough rather than your creativity.

Your creativeness might stop you from having a deep analysis of the results as the more complicated your research is, the less easy it is for you to thoroughly analyse your results.

Don’t forget that there is a page limit for your IA so use your pages wisely. Choose a simple topic so that you can have more pages for the analysis section.

  • Grab some ideas from class!

Start thinking about your IA topic way before you actually get into the writing of it. Get some ideas from your daily lessons as some of your questions in class might directly link to an idea for your IA. Depending on the teacher, they might also suggest good IA topics for you!

3.1 Advice for Your Experiment

  • Don’t Choose a Complicated Experiment!

Your experiment has to be doable. If you overcomplicate your experiment, you might not have the equipments for it and it could be very time consuming. The IA looks at your analysis skills so focus on getting a deep analysis of a simple experiment.

For Biology, some students might want to conduct an experiment that depends on the growth of plants. Again, think of how much time it will take and whether it is practical.

  • Don’t waste your class time!

As mentioned before, there is a limit of hours for you to complete your IA at school. Therefore, the time for you to conduct your experiment during class is limited. Make sure you have all your equipments before class and revise your methodology so that everything can go smoothly.