1. Characteristics of IB Business and Management

1.1 Contents and Outline

In IB Business and Management (BM), students learn business-related topics through 5 units. There are no differences in which unit to cover for HL and SL students. However, the depth of the topic and the time to spend on each topic are different, so HL students will need to have a lot more knowledge and deep understanding.

Units IB BM students (both HL and SL) cover:

  1. Business Organization and Environment
  2. Human Resource Management
  3. Finance and Accounts
  4. Marketing
  5. Operation and Management

For more detailed information about syllabus, check IBO website.

1.2 Pros of Learning IB Business and Management

In IB BM, students think about ethical problems at both local level and international level, in order to develop the skills for business practices, such as critical thinking, decision making based on ethically healthy and sufficient information, strategic thinking, long-term planning, analysis, and evaluation.

IBO states aims of the course as following:

  1. encourage a holistic view of the world of business
  2. empower students to think critically and strategically about individual and organizational behavior
  3. promote the importance of exploring business issues from different cultural perspectives
  4. enable the student to appreciate the nature and significance of change in a local, regional and global context
  5. promote awareness of the importance of environmental, social, and ethical factors in the actions of individuals and organizations
  6. develop an understanding of the importance of innovation in a business environment.

(IBO website)

1.3 Differences between HL and SL

Apart from contents, there are slightly some differences in Internal Assessment and examination process for HL and SL. For more information, please check below.

2. Criteria

Studying IB BM requires a lot of practice and time. But, since IB has a specific criteria and a way of studying, it’s actually easy to get a good score once you know how to study. This makes it more important to review and figure out the topics you might get confused about. If you have any problems with language, questions, or how to solve them, it’s better to ask your teacher or someone who has experience on the subject as soon as possible.

IB has two ways of assessing students: External Assessment and Internal Assessment (IA). Students have External Assessment as final exams in May or November and are assessed by IB examiners. On the other hand, the IA is assessed by the school teachers and they submit students’ scores to IB headquarter. 75% of the final grade comes from External Assessment and 25% comes from IA.

Criteria for each assessment (from 2016) is listed below.

2.1 External Assessment

Paper 1 (30%)

There will be questions based only on the pre-seen case study in Paper 1. HL students may get the same questions as SL students in section A and section B. However, there will be HL-only questions in HL paper.

Mark / Duration
  • Mark: 70 marks
  • Duration: 135 mins (2 hours and 15 mins)
  • Mark: 50 marks
  • Duration: 75 mins (1 hour and 15 mins)
Section A
  • Students get 4 questions and answer 3 of them.
  • Students are expected to show their knowledge, understanding, application skill, and analytical skill.
  • Each question is worth 10 marks and the maximum score one can get is 30.
Section B
  • Students get one question and answer it.
  • Students are expected to show their knowledge, understanding, application skill, analytical skill, judgment, and evaluation.
  • This section is worth 20 marks.
Section C
  • Students get HL contents questions.
  • They often ask about the impact of the organization on its stakeholders and the organization itself.
  • This section is worth 20 marks.

Paper 2 (45%)

Each questions given in paper 2 has original short case study.

Mark / Duration
  • Mark: 60 marks
  • Duration: 135 mins (2 hours and 15 mins)
  • Mark: 60 marks
  • Duration: 105 mins (1 hour and 45 mins)
Section A
  • Students get 2 questions mainly focusing on finance and answer one of them.
  • Students are expected to show their knowledge, understanding, application skill, analytical skill, judgment, and evaluation.
  • This section is worth 20 marks.
Section B
  • Students get 3 questions and answer one of them.
  • Students are expected to show their knowledge, understanding, application skill, analytical skill, judgment, and evaluation.
  • This section is worth 20 marks.
Section C
  • Students get 3 essay questions and answer one of them.
  • Questions are related to two major business concepts: Culture, Culture, Innovation, Globalization, Ethics, and Strategy.
  • Students can not bring their notes into the exam and they are expected to use their own knowledge about BM and one existing business/organization to examine its impact on stakeholders and itself within the concepts.
  • This section is worth 20 marks.

2.2 Internal Assessment (25%)

Research Proposal (HL/SL)

Both HL and SL students start their IA by writing research proposal. They write their plan about their investigation within 500 words. If the word count goes over 500, examiners (school teachers) will assess the research proposal based only on the first 500 words.

Research Proposal must have following four components.

  1. Research Question
  2. Proposed methodology, including:
    1. the rationale for study
    2. areas of the syllabus to be covered
    3. possible sources of information
    4. organizations and individuals to be approached
    5. methods to be used to collect and analyze data, and the reason for choosing them
    6. the order of activities and timescale of the project
  3. Anticipated difficulties, such as limited or biased sources
  4. Action plan
HL = Research Project (30 hours)

The HL internal Assessment is a research project that allows students to demonstrate the application of their skills and knowledge to business issues or decision-making.

HL students are required to:

  • design and undertake research that either addresses an issue facing a business organization or a range of organizations or analyses a decision to be made by a business organization or range of organizations
  • select a real business organization or a range of organizations and a real issue or decision under investigation
  • base their research project on primary research that they have gathered from the organization investigated (secondary research may be used as a support)
  • provide a title for the research project that must be framed as a question to give focus and direction
  • produce a research proposal (of maximum 500 words), including an action plan, to be used as the primary planning document
  • produce a written report that does not exceed 2,000 words
  • write the report in a style and format of a useful working document for management
SL = Written Commentary (15 hours)

The SL Internal Assessment is a written commentary that allows students to demonstrate the application of business management tools, techniques, and theories to a business issue or problem.

SL students are required to:

  • select a real business issue or problem for their written commentary that must relate to the SL syllabus
  • refer directly to a single business organization, but may consider industry-wide issues that impact on that organization
  • base their written commentary on secondary research, selected for its suitability, depth, and breadth. (Primary research may be used as support)
  • provide a title for the commentary that, to give focus and direction, must be framed as a question
  • produce a written commentary that does not exceed 1,500 words
  • attach to the commentary three to five supporting documents from which the majority of the information for the commentary has been obtained
  • fully reference all supporting documents and additional sources and include them in a bibliography

3. Tips for Final Exam

Here’s what you should do to get good grade on the final exam. Even if you’re just starting the course, these tips will help you get good scores on topic tests in the classroom.

3.1 Understand Command Terms

Command terms are demanding verbs used in questions on exams. Knowing what each command term means helps you understand what the question is asking you and what you’re supposed to write in the right way. Additionally, questions with certain command terms are worth higher marks than those with other command terms. Those command terms with higher marks often ask you complicated questions, thus harder to solve.

Here’s some examples of command terms:

  1. Explain… Give an explanation on the subject in detail with reasons.
  2. Compare… Compare two or more things or situations. Focus on similarities. Rather than explaining one thing more than the other, it’s better to spend the same amount of writing on each subject.
  3. Discuss… Rather than drawing a conclusion of yes/no, explain the subject with different perspectives and argue the problems that occur for such differences.
  4. Distinguish… Compare two or more things or situations. Focus on differences.
  5. Evaluate… Explain both pros and cons of the subject, consider both sides, and draw a conclusion.

3.2 Master Pre-Seen Case Study (Paper 1)

Exactly the same pre-seen case study for paper 1 is given to both HL and SL students around 3 weeks before the final exam. Paper 1 assess students based on how deeply they understand the situation of the business in the case study and how well they apply their business knowledge to that. So, it’s essential to fully use the time given to read it carefully and master the pre-seen case study as if you’re actually in the case study.

3.3 Know Some Case Studies in Real World

In order to get high scores on the exam, students are required to clearly apply their knowledge to case studies in real world. To do that, you should not only memorize the case studies discussed in class but also pay attention to the newspaper or the news and find businesses that practice business tools or theories you’ve learned in the course. If you’re aiming for 6/7, you might also want to be able to explain how they link to the given question as a tool of analysis.

3.4 Master the Use of Business Management Terms

In order to use BM terms appropriately in the final exam, you might want to practice using it beforehand. You also want to make sure you know the definition, the connection to the topic and how to use it in the context.

3.5 Master the Use of Calculator

Students are allowed to bring their calculators to the final exam. So it’s best to practice how to use it when you review the topics. Otherwise, you will have to spend extra time on figuring it out during the exam.

4. Tips for Extended Essay

Since BM is closely related to our daily life, you might come up with creative and unique ideas from different perspectives for your EE. You can also explore the area you’re interested in as you choose the topic for your EE such as marketing or human resource management. You might think that using secondary research is popular when writing essays, but you can always conduct primary research to differentiate from other students and bring originality to your essay.

The most important step in the process of writing EE is choosing the topic. Not only based on your interest, but you might also want to choose the topic based on how well you can use your BM knowledge to your EE and whether you can do your research.