Full Guide to IB Economics Internal Assessment (IA)

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We created this guide to IB Economics Internal Assignment as a means to help students earn the coveted 45 marks. To do so, you need to know what Internal Assessment is exactly, the best approach to its structure, how to select news articles for your commentaries, and what the mark scheme is. Without further ado, let us present the answer to these and some other questions.

What is IB Economics Internal Assessment?

IB Economics Internal Assignment is a portfolio of three commentaries each SL and HL student has to create based on news articles or other mass media publications. The topics of these materials must correlate to the main units of the IB Economics Syllabus: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and the Global Economy, but it disregards the Introduction to Economics. One commentary must cover only one unit, and these units shouldn’t repeat. In other words, all 3 commentaries ought to consider 3 individual units.

Additionally, the commentaries should be built around one of the nine WISE ChoICES concepts:

  • Well-being;
  • Independence;
  • Scarcity;
  • Efficiency;
  • Choice;
  • Intervention;
  • Change;
  • Equity;
  • Sustainability.

The data for your commentaries must come from reputable news media sources (magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.). Your task is to showcase a connection between the content of the article and economic theory. This connection should be given through the lens of the selected WISE ChoICES concept.

Your IB Economics Internal Assignment portfolio is marked by your school teacher. IB then randomly selects some of the portfolios and forwards them for external moderation.

Usually, it takes 20 hours to complete the IB Economics IA. Keep in mind that you can use the help from your teacher once for each commentary. It makes sense to create a draft of your commentary and provide it to your teacher for review.

If you feel you need more help to ace your IB Economics Internal Assignment, hiring a tutor is a good idea. A tutor can provide a valuable piece of advice regarding each section of your commentary, spot possible issues, check your calculations, etc. You can also count on assistance if you fail to find good articles for your portfolio.

IB Economics IA Markscheme

IB Economics Internal Assignment is compulsory for both SL and HL. At SL, it makes up 30% of the final score, while at HL – 20%.

Each successfully completed commentary awards 14 marks across 5 assessment criteria:

  • A – Diagrams – 3 marks for relevant, accurate, and carefully labelled diagrams featuring appropriate explanations;
  • B – Terminology – 2 marks for relevant terms and their definitions;
  • C – Application and Analysis – 3 marks for using appropriate economic theories to analyze the selected news article.
  • D – Key Concepts – 3 marks for using one of the WISE ChoICES concepts as a foundation for your analyses, as well as the ability to justify their relevance;
  • E – Evaluation – 3 marks for providing your judgment, reasoning, and arguments regarding the situation or process the selected news article talks about.

On top of that, there are 3 more marks for your portfolio as a whole:

  • 1 mark if each article concerns a different unit of the syllabus;
  • 1 mark if each article comes from a different source;
  • 1 mark if each article is of current interest, i.e. it was published no later than a year ago.

In total, Internal Assessment that matches all the criteria will bring 45 marks (14 marks x 3 commentaries = 42 marks + 3 marks).

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Steven R

Steven has a degree in History, MA in Medieval Studies and is a certified teacher in Secondary Education. He has taught IB Economics, Business Management and History for 40 years. He also teaches MYP Individuals & Societies and Theory of Knowledge. Steven is an Examiner for the IBO in Economics.


Elizabeth holds a BA in International Trade and a PhD in Applied Linguistics. She has been an examiner for the IBO since 2014 and has completed a number of advanced IB teacher training courses. Elizabeth teaches Business Studies and Economics IB (SL & HL).


Iordanis is an experienced IB teacher and official IBO examiner. He holds Bachelor degrees in Education, Business Administration and Economics. He has extensive experience teaching IBDP Business and Economics at a number of prestigious international schools and is currently Head of Economics at Berlin Cosmopolitan School.


Gary is a top IB Business Management tutor. As IB examiner he knows how to best tutor his students to get the highest score possible in their IB exams. Gary combines expert subject knowledge & a patient approach. He also tutors IB Business management Internal assessments - IAs and Extended Essays - EEs. 
Wael maths & economics tutor


Wael has been teaching Maths and Economics up to IB Level for 20 years. He is currently the IB Maths coordinator at the German International School in Beirut and is also an official IB Maths Examiner for the IBO. Wael has also delivered a number of workshops including IB Internal Assessments, and IB Maths for Experienced Teachers. 


Steven is an IB Economics & Business Management Teacher & A Level Examiner, with over 30 years experience across a variety of UK and International schools. Specialist online tutor.

Wordcount: What’s In and What’s Out

According to IB Economics guide requirements, each article must feature a maximum of 800 words to discuss and evaluate a real-world economic problem. That being said, not every section of the commentary is part of the specified word count. Here are the elements of your commentary that are ignored when counting the number of words:

  • News article itself. You should include an original news article in its entirety. If it is in the online format, an URL will not be enough.
  • Commentary cover page (coversheet). It is a brief regarding your commentary featuring such information as the number of the commentary, the title of the article, its source, publication date, the date of the commentary, its word count, the syllabus unit it relates to, and the key concept. Please note that the cover page isn’t compulsory, so please check with your school whether you need to provide it or not.
  • Contents page;
  • Diagram headings up to 10 words;
  • Labelling up to 5 words;
  • Acknowledgments;
  • References (they are included in footnotes and endnotes);
  • Tables of statistical data;
  • Calculations (this includes formulas and your working outs).

Please keep in mind that quotations are part of the allowed 800 words for your IB Economics Internal Assignment. Therefore, you need to be very careful when including them in your commentary. Instead of adding full quotes, try to cut all the unnecessary bits. Put everything you leave out in <…>.


The Structure of IB Economics Internal Assessment

Although the IB Economics guide doesn’t set a specific structure for your commentaries, the mark scheme highlights certain criteria you can use as a guide. We suggest the following structure that allows organically introducing all the essential sections and components of your commentary.


This part briefly summarizes the chosen article and makes it clear which real-life situation it considers. The key concept that you use to analyse the article should be mentioned in the first paragraph.

You may also want to provide definitions of 2-3 of the most relevant key terms (2-3). Please note that when you take a definition from a textbook or elsewhere, you need to provide credit. Since the rubric says that you need to use terms appropriately but it doesn’t demand that you define them, you may skip the definition. However, the usage of these terms must clearly demonstrate that you know what you talk about. If you decide to provide definitions, do so after you introduce a term in the text.

It is also important to mention the underlying problem and the impacts it has. For instance, if an article talks about banning alcohol, you should mention that it may cause the emergence of the black market.

The word count for the Introduction is around 100-150 words.

IB Student holding Economics article


Diagrams are an illustration of the economical matter a news article deals with. You can also provide a diagram to justify a solution based on economic analysis. You need to draw a diagram on your own (in dynamics, not just in statics) and fully label it – the axis, lines, curves, intersections, important points, etc. Diagrams are usually outside of the word count if you make sure to provide labels shorter than 5 words and headings shorter than 10 words.

Diagram(s) Explanation

A diagram (or diagrams if you have more than one) must come with an explanation. Even if you believe that a diagram is self-explanatory to everyone who knows economic theory, you cannot overlook this part.

It should describe all the terms, abbreviations, and figures your diagram showcases. Whenever possible, quote the news article for that this data. For diagrams that demonstrate curve shifts, you need to provide an explanation of why this happened.

When elaborating on your diagram, it is best that you explain how the process/situation in question affected the stakeholders as well as what the relationship is between the economic factors and their consequences.

The suggested length for this section is 150-200 words.


This is the core of your commentary, and it must explain how economic theory alongside the chosen WISE ChoICES concept correlates to the situation described in the news article.

You might already touch upon this in the Diagram Explanation section but now you need to delve into the details. It’s worth explaining how economic theory backs up what the article is talking about. If the real-life situation in some way contradicts the theory, you should list the factors that cause the discrepancies. For example, in the situation when the government tries to introduce alcohol bans it is natural to assume that alcohol consumption will drop. However, in real-life, alcohol consumption may actually soar due to the emergence on the market of cheap counterfeited or artisan products.


This part is about proposing a solution. The news article you’re working with may already suggest a solution, and it’s up to you whether to elaborate on it or come up with your own one. The most important thing is that this solution must be viable from the standpoint of economics. Use your knowledge to explain why you think this course of action is appropriate.

In particular, you should mention the consequences in the long- and short terms. If your course or action fixes one problem but creates another one, you need to specify that. It is also important to note how it affects the stakeholders (consumers, manufacturers, the government, the society as a whole…)

An essential part of the evaluation is the Pros and Cons analysis. Justify your choice using the arguments for the suggested action. At the same time, don’t forget to mention the drawbacks or limitations of your policy.

Finally, you need to mention possible alternatives and reasons why you didn’t consider them (disadvantages that outweigh the advantages).

Finally, this section must come with a brief conclusion (2-3 sentences) that summarizes it all. We advise that you refer to your key concept here when you sum up your work

The suggested length of the Evaluation is around 250 words.

How to Find an Appropriate Article for Economics IA?

For your commentary, you should use media sources in printed or electronic (online) forms. Radio and tv broadcasts won’t do. We recommend sticking to reputable mainstream mass media sources (CNN, BBC, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, etc.) but avoid economics-specific media (Forbes, Financial Times, The Economist, etc.). That’s because the latter tend to feature analysis and evaluations, and this contradicts the goal of your commentaries.

However, if you get to find an article that has maximum facts and minimum analytics, it will be suitable for your IA. Needless to say, you should not resort to poorly-known sources or those with questionable credibility (BuzzFeed, Facebook Posts, tabloids, etc.).

We recommend using search engines to find appropriate news articles. Try to come up with a list of keywords specific to each unit of the syllabus and type them in Google. The News tab will show you relevant search results, and the Tool will allow you to sort them by publication time (remember, an article must be not older than 12 months when you start working on your commentary).

The best material for your IA is short, data-rich articles with the potential for economic analysis. Longer articles often touch upon varied topics or concepts across multiple units of the syllabus, and for this reason, they are not ideal. However, you can work with them if you are able to isolate appropriate sections.

A news article and your commentary should be written in the same language. At the same time, you can use foreign-language materials. In this case, you should accurately translate an article and attach both the original and the translation to your commentary.

How to Get the Highest Marks for Your IB Economics Internal Assessment

Internal Assessment is different from External forms of academic performance evaluation – Paper 1, Paper 2, and Paper 3. On one hand, you have months to complete the tasks, which makes IA less stressful than time-limited exams. On the other hand, IA requires a great deal of independence and self-organisation. Besides, the amount of help from your teacher is scanty. In the circumstances like these, how to ensure that your Internal Assessment gets the highest marks?

Our solution is a qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced IB Economics Tutor. You can get assistance every step of the way, from advice on picking news articles to the quality evaluation of your commentaries. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – even the best minds need support and guidance. Tutors Plus is here to provide them.

If you’re considering getting a tutor, make sure to contact us at info@tutorsplus.com and 022 731 8148. Let us help you to do your best to pass your Internal Assessment with flying colours.

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