How to Choose a History IA Topic

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As IB students get closer to their Internal Assessment, they inevitably wonder: “How to choose a history IA topic?”

Picking the right topic is the first step toward the coveted 25 marks. We know how important the IA is since these marks are 25% of the final rating for SL students and 20% for HL counterparts.

Even more importantly with time and attention students who put in the time and effort can hope to get a good score in the bag ahead of their final exams.

Below, we provide tips for choosing a successful IB History IA topic and one in which you have the best possible chance to get a high score.

Align It with Your Interests

You’ve chosen History as one of your IB subjects for a reason – you want to learn more about the remarkable events and people of the past.

But there must be a period, event, or personality that stands out for you more than others. Maybe you admire prominent national and military leaders, or you wish to find out how people fought for their rights, or you have a passion for ancient civilizations and cultures.

The Internal Assessment is an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into the area of your interest.

Make your historical investigation personal and you will not have a lack of inspiration. Even more importantly your enthusiasm will transfer to the page and give you the best chance to impress your teacher.

Try to Make Your Topic Unique

The best thing about your History IA is that you barely have any restrictions on what to write about.

Yes, historical events covered in your investigation should be at least 10 years old but for the rest, the sky is the limit. This makes it possible to come up with a truly unique topic.

Don’t choose something obvious such as events your textbook already talked about. It is likely that the previous generations of students already covered topics prescribed by the syllabus.

Instead, you should take your time to think about original topics. This approach will show examiners that you were thoughtful and partial to your investigation.

IB History IA Cover

Be Specific

Your History IA should contain 2200 words. Only 1300 of these are directly related to the investigation. This means that you ought to be brief yet precise when describing historical events.

Don’t choose a broad topic and don’t try to answer more than one question.  here are some HIstory IA tips on how to keep is laser-focused.

  • Instead of extended periods (centuries), focus on events that spanned less than a decade.
  • Rather than talking about a group of people, it makes sense to recognize a prominent person from this group.
  • While writing about a country may be too broad and general, you can choose to narrow your focus down to a town.
Local History

Unless your town emerged in recent years, it has witnessed many historical events. From battles to traces of ancient civilizations, your vicinity is likely to keep some intriguing secrets. You might be curious to explore them.

Choosing a local site has a number of benefits. First of all, it will give you a clear focus and a bite-sized subject matter to deal with.

Secondly, there will be local museums, libraries, archives, or exhibitions that can provide valuable pieces of evidence and primary sources for your investigation.

Last but not least, if the events you want to write about happened not too long ago, there may still be witnesses. Getting first-hand information from those will add an additional layer of interest and offer you a good chance for a high final score.

Use Primary Sources

As we have already mentioned, choosing an investigation of recent events, especially those that happened locally, can give you access to primary sources.

As stated in the IB History guide, successful identification and evaluation of sources can bring up to 6 marks. Hence it is important to use varied, original, and relevant sources, especially if primary prevail over secondary ones.

This is an undeniable advantage if your topic allows you to visit a historic site or question witnesses.

Ask Questions

Before you start your investigation, it makes sense to show a chosen topic to your history tutor or teacher.

They may help you alter it to sound more specific or suggest shifting a focus. Either way, you are eligible for the guidance of your teacher, so make sure to listen to their advice.

Get Help with Your History IB Topic Choice

If you are still struggling with History Internal Assessment? We are happy to come to the rescue. At TutorsPlus, we have excellent IB history tutors willing to help you with your IA, whether it is choosing the right topic or advice on the structure. Call us at 022 731 8148 or contact us via e-mail, and we’ll gladly assist you with a 25-mark-worthy historical investigation.


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