Chemistry IA – Tips on how to get a top grade

In order to get the very top marks in your Chemistry IA, you need to show initiative, curiosity, and independent thinking.

Easy to say, but how do you make this happen?

Today we share the key elements you need to get as close as possible to the maximum Chemistry IA score of 24.

Overall, your Chemistry IA should be a 6-12 page lab report describing the design, findings, and evaluation of your investigation. But now, let’s do a deep dive into what it takes to get the best marks.

Select a laser-focused question that will lead to good data collection

  • The setting of the scientific context for the research question. Above all, this requires a very focused research question. This means one that leads to the collection of data, which will create a scatter graph.

Presentation and layout must be clear and logical

  • Present the information in a coherent way.
  • Importantly this means writing your IA in a clear way by using headings and subheadings where appropriate.
  • Above all write clearly and concisely using the correct scientific terminology and the most recent Chemistry conventions. For example, iron(II) sulphate instead of ferrous sulphate.

Choose a topic you are passionate about

  • The best advice here is to choose a topic of significant personal interest. Then you can demonstrate this by using your initiative to identify and solve the problems related to designing, collecting, and processing the data.
  • Introduce your topic of investigation by citing facts/ statistics that demonstrate the significance of the chosen DV in a real-world context.
  • Don’t forget to cite the choice of sources for the background
  • You must explain the link between the chosen variables and cite academic literature to provide reliable support for each factual claim.

Be creative in designing your methodology

  • The design of the method is important. In fact, IB Chemistry IA Examiners get tired of seeing the same examples found on the internet. Instead, show original thinking and test and modify the methodology accordingly.
  • When thinking about the choice of materials, including reasonable amounts (green chemistry approach), is important. In particular, take care when writing the risk assessment.  This means taking steps to minimise the risk of harm. Not only to yourself as the researcher, but also to the environment (where appropriate).
  • Where harm is possible you must outline the procedures for seeking medical attention.
  • Don’t forget to describe the steps for obtaining human consent where appropriate.
  • Comment on the way of the disposal of the substances used.

Tips on taking care with data collection

  • The description of the collection of data must be clear and logical, making reference to the required equipment. Above all include diagrams for the setup if it helps the reader to understand the protocol.
  • The choice of methods for the analysis of the data, including propagation of errors, statistical methods, Error bars on graphs, well constructed best fit lines, maximum or minimum slopes,  appropriate consideration of outlier data, consideration of equation of a line and the R2 value, Consistent significant figures and decimal places, sensible protocol on the propagation of errors through numerical calculations, comparison of data from different data sources (secondary data examples) to evaluate variance, evidence of investigation of research into the uncertainties associated with database data.

How to interpret your IA Chemistry results

  • Make sure that you have interpreted the data in direct relation to your research question.
  • Then, ensure you comment on the extent to which the data supports the validity of the hypothesis.
  • Comparison of the results to published data and provide a scientifically supported explanation for any similarities and differences.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses ( systematic and random errors) of the experiment by commenting on the suitability of the range of tested values; the precision of the measurements; the control of variables and the impact they may have had on the experiment and how much the data differs from previously published data.
  • Moreover, provide suggestions as to how to improve the experiment. Particularly in relation to each of the weaknesses identified and discuss the implications of making modifications.
  • Above all to reach the top grades you must show how the investigation can be extended in a meaningful way. Particularly you must describe how this information will enhance the knowledge relating to the studied topic.
  • Finally, it is essential to set up the scientific context for the conclusion.

Margarita is a Chemistry teacher & examiner. In fact, she has over 20 years’ experience. Furthermore, she is an expert in international education. Not only has she taught in Switzerland (including the International School of Zug and Luzern), but all over the world. Finally, she is a workshop leader for the IB.

If you would like to have tuition with Margarita for your Chemistry IA get in touch by email or call +41 22 731 81 48

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