How to get top marks in your Business Management Internal Assessment – IA

Of course, you want to get a great mark in your Business Management IA.

Especially as it is a chance to secure all important points before you head into the final exams.

But we know that it sometimes doesn’t feel like we can pull it off.  In fact, it can feel like a lonely mountain to climb, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

First, this article gives you tips on what our IB Teachers and IB examiners have seen work with their students. After all, they do this year after year and know what it takes to get top marks.

Second, we have expert IB Teachers and Examiners who can give you focused support and tuition to get you there if you need a quick helping hand.

So let’s dive in and give you a helping hand.

What is the Business Management Internal Assessment?

The IBO has also overhauled the Internal Assessment for the new syllabus (first examined in 2024). Now it is about students solving a real-world organisational problem with Business Management tools and theories.

So, for students graduating in 2024, this article is for you. These tips will help you ace your IA within the new syllabus.

Here, unlike some of the exams, the rubric is the same for both SL and HL. Now, in the new syllabus, there is a conceptual focus and the student is able to complete it with or without ongoing access to a “real business”.

However, students can still use primary sources of information, if they have access to a “real” business to study. And there is still the focus on just one business.

It can feel like a tall order to many students, as the IA is a 1,800-word essay, marked out of 25.

However, by breaking down the tasks involved you can get it done, and get it done well. And this is what we are going to look at in this article.

students working at a desk

Why is the Internal Assessment important? 

Students working hard to write a strong IA, can get a great result in the bag, all before exam day. So, please don’t underestimate what a boost this can be for your confidence when the exams roll around.

A solid IA will give you peace of mind going into those final exams, so it is really worth the effort. Even if you are at a point when you are finding it hard to get started, or getting it completed is becoming a hard slog.

This becomes even more important when you think that the IA accounts for 30% of the final grade for SL students and 20% at HL. Your teacher will mark the work and send samples off for external moderation at the IBO.

Start early and avoid a clash of deadlines

You may be sick of hearing this from your teachers, your parents, and now from us, but it is essential you keep to the deadlines.

If you don’t, you will find that all your IB core and subject deadlines start to collide. This is a recipe for increasingly high-stress levels.

This is why your school has set deadlines that are earlier than the final submission date to the IBO. It is not because they don’t want to give you more time.

Rather, it is because they want to save your sanity. In fact, they want you to hand in all of your IB work without burning out because the deadlines are falling at the same time.

We have seen enough students get into this position that we can assure you it is something you want to avoid.

The key is to break down your IA into manageable chunks.

Try to set your own deadlines for different stages of the IA, so that you don’t fall behind.

group of students smiling

Use the rubric AND the marking criteria as your guide 

I am sure your teacher has emphasised this point. But, so many students we work with don’t refer to these two documents enough.

Keep checking back to see what the rubric says you need to do.  Have you followed it to the letter? Any divergence might mean that you drop points.

As you write your IA, and certainly once you are editing, you want to be looking at each criterion and checking you have done enough to hit the top marks descriptor.

Here is an extract from the IBO subject guide that explains the 7 criteria used for marking.

  • A: Integration of a key concept
  • B: Supporting documents
  • C: Selection and application of tools and theories
  • D: Analysis and evaluation
  • E: Conclusions
  • F: Structure
  • G: Presentation
Make sure your IA stands out from the crowd

Choose a business or a sector that really interests you

Examiners read many IAs during a marking season. So for your IA to stand out in a positive way, it needs to have something extra. In our experience, this usually comes from your personal engagement and real interest in the subject.

As you have free choice to choose an enterprise that can be operating in any sector, this is the moment to spend time selecting the right one to capture your enthusiasm and imagination.

How to choose a research project

Students need to choose a business problem connected to part of the syllabus. Then, develop a title that will be your research question.

The IA is your research project where you apply appropriate business management tools and theories to a real organisational issue or problem through one of the conceptual lenses set out by the IB.

The research project needs to look at the question through a conceptual lens. You can choose just one of these themes.

student studying at computer

Change, creativity, ethics, or sustainability

Whichever one you choose needs to be made clear on the title page.

It is really important to check your research question before you start working on it.

They will be looking for a question that will allow you to access the higher marks, so our top advice is to listen to their feedback.

Your teacher will want to go through it with you. At this point, it is important to listen to their advice as any mistakes in choosing a poor question will result in low final marks or a large amount of rework down the line.

Sample questions

The IB organisation has published some sample questions (in the subject guide) to give students an idea of what good research questions look like.

• Should company Y change its manufacturing to outsourcing?

The project could then examine areas within business management such as operations management and human resource management using change as a conceptual lens.

• How can airline X successfully target segment Y?

The project could then examine business management topics such as market segmentation, promotion, and measure of financial success using sustainability as a conceptual lens.

How to structure your IA

It is important that students work within the guidelines set out by the IB.

An introduction is needed in order to give the background about the business organisation while explaining the problem itself and how you propose to go about exploring it.

Findings and supporting evidence forms the centre of the IA. Along with the analysis of supporting documents, students are expected to use the appropriate Business Management tools specified in the syllabus.

Students are expected to conclude their IA by bringing together their IA by clearly answering the research question. This means no new questions or themes should be addressed here.

Instead, students can indicate aspects of their research question which may need further investigation to come to a full conclusion.

two students working outside

Good draft, great feedback

As with most things in life you get out what you put in, and the IA is no different.

The ideal approach is to push your work as far as possible before you submit your draft for the one round of teacher feedback.

Take time to look at each criterion and see that you have met the requirements for each.  Just because you have reached a high level on one criterion, it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily reach that same level on another.

Teachers aren’t allowed to edit or annotate your work and they can only feed back once. So you need to get your IA as far as possible before you hand it in for feedback.

Otherwise, you will find the feedback will be centred on elements you could have corrected yourself.

You can find more information on how to complete your IB essays and written assignments here.

How to make the most of our draft feedback
  • Critique your own IA like you are your teacher, then make the changes you think you need.
  • Ask a peer to review it for you.
  • Look at the mark scheme and mark your IA yourself.
  • As yourself what you can improve?
If you need some extra help because English is not your first language…ask!

Many of our students write their Internal Assessment in their second language and this makes it even harder.  So, there are quite a number of things you can do to help yourself if this applies to you.

Don’t let small language mistakes drag your markdown because you are not being clear in your communication.

In fact, there are lots of ways you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you. And we highly recommend all English as a second language students follow at least some of these tips.

Tips for EFL students
  • Ask for help from one of your English teachers. Make it clear you are just looking for them to check your language only.  Then they will know that they will not be treading on your subject teacher’s toes.
  • Your school’s learning support team will usually be happy to help out with second language questions and requirements.
  • Often, school librarians are language experts and can provide you with feedback.  You might find that they are delighted just to be asked!
  • Finally, if you really can’t bear asking a teacher for help, then find a friend who you know has a real strength in the English language and is a native speaker. Ideally, you want to select someone who has experience and skills in academic writing.  This could be an adult family friend or a peer at school.
Don’t forget academic honesty

This sounds obvious, but remember all IAs will be put through anti-plagiarism software. If you have any more questions we can help you with more details on this.

TutorsPlus provides expert IA tutors to help international students prepare, get ahead or catch up. If you need help from one of our experienced IB IA teachers or Examiners, we are just a click away.

Our tutors know the IB inside-out and truly work magic to draw out each student’s ability to self-direct their learning. You can reach TutorsPlus at 022 731 8148 or info@tutorsplus.com

By Sara Lloyd

Sara has been an education consultant for TutorsPlus for 15 years and is an expert on international IB education.  She is also a parent of two lively children.

Check out our IB IA page to see more teachers who can help with your IB IA preparation.

Also, in case you want more subject info please take a look at the SL and HL Business Management subject guides.

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