Exploring Math and Physics Internal Assessment Topics

What is the Internal Assessment (IA)?

It is an assessment completed in the school and submitted to IB for moderations. The work is usually about 20% of the Final IB grade. Internally assessed course elements include:

  • Oral work in languages: FOA, IOC
  • Fieldwork in geography
  • Laboratory work in the sciences
  • Investigations in mathematics
  • Artistic Performances

When to prepare for the IA?

Differs from schools to schools however most schools ask for a Research Question/ Topic by the end of the first year and sometimes the first draft. Final drafts are usually asked by Christmas. High School teachers encourage students to start thinking about topics over the summer.


  • The Math Internal Assessment is a compulsory element of all IB Math courses accounting for 20% of the final grade.
  • Students are encouraged to pick a topic they would like to explore through a mathematical perspective and produce a written report for 2000 words (Math Studies) or approximately 6-12 pages (Math Standard and Higher level).
  • Students are encouraged to explore a field of maths independently and look at mathematical theories and operations beyond the syllabus.
  • This can be hard for students as many schools provide only a guideline on how to write a report, and generally, teachers only give one round of written feedback.

How we can help:

  • Helping students come up with research questions/topics that will allow them to show off the most elements in the assessment criteria (most important aspect)
  • The IA requires a slightly different writing style than normal maths and science reports and requires a specific structure. For example, they have to use the first person and show significant personal engagement throughout the written piece, unlike most natural science reports.
  • Show students how and when to use different types of technology.  Students often don’t realize “calculator” notation is unacceptable for maths reports and have to learn how to use Excel for statistical calculations.

Physics: Physics

A 6-12 page report based on an approximate 10-hour long investigation involving research and lab work. Students are still tested on their personal engagement which leads to the selection of their topic as well as their engagement with the science behind their explanation and discussion in the report. This accounts for 20% of their final grade. This is a compulsory part of the course.

Common problems:

  • The planning stage is the most important stage and often students don’t research their topic thoroughly. This means that often the students carry out the wrong experiment, and don’t realize this until the very last stages of data analysis. At this point, most schools don’t allow for the experiment to be repeated, and the students are left with data sets from which  reasonable conclusions cannot be drawn

How we can help:

  • Help formulate Research Questions
  • Design of the plan
  • Data analysis

If you want to get ahead start on your Math and Physics IA, The Edge’s Math and Science IB tutors are here to help you. Call us at 2972-2555 for more details!

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The Edge Learning Center is Hong Kong’s premier Test Preparation, Academic Tutoring, and Admissions Consulting services provider. Founded in 2008, The Edge has helped thousands of students improve their ACT and SAT scores as well as their IB and AP grades. The AC team has just finished off another successful period in which student gained acceptance to schools such as Stanford, University of Chicago, Brown, and more! Check out the rest of our 2018 Admissions Results!