top of page

IB Economics Internal Assessment Solved: A Guide to Acing Your Economics IA

Updated: May 22

IAs are universally disliked for good reasons. Instructions are unclear, finding suitable articles is a nightmare, and teacher feedback can be unpredictable. For the Economics IA specifically, with the stringent 800-word limit, the challenge lies in balancing economic theories, a key concept, and article references without sounding like a detached essay. The struggle is compounded by the difficulty of finding quality articles and choosing the wrong one can make things worse. In this guide, I will be going over how to pick the best topic, how to structure your IA, and how to score high in each criterion for your Economics IA.


What the Economics IA Entails:

The Economics IA is unique compared to all other IB Assignments, as instead of completing one lengthy IA, you have to complete 3 smaller IAs focused on each unit of the course:

  • Microeconomics

  • Macroeconomics

  • The global economy

The most important distinguishing factor between these assignments is the real-world example you pick and obviously, the type of economic analysis you commit yourself to.


Key Concept:

The key concept is 3/14 of the marks, and thus it’s very important to try and incorporate it as much as possible into your IA. This means that you should define it in the context of your article in the introduction (don’t just give a generic definition) and interweave it into your analysis and evaluation. Bolding the word every time you mention it (at least once per paragraph) is a good idea to signpost to the assessor that you’ve included your key concept in your IA.


Additionally, based on the unit, some key concepts are way easier to talk about than others. Usually, you can find a way to talk about almost any key concept because of how interrelated they are, but some are more suitable than others. In the end, make sure the key concept you choose is at least alluded to in your article.


Real-World Examples:

The most important thing to do when picking your topic is to keep it as simple as possible with a clear diagram. Remember that the word limit is only 800. You will not have the space to commit to complex economic analysis with such a limited word count, and thus you need to pick a topic in which you provide the most depth for, with the least number of words. Your key audience is someone who has no background in economics so everything needs to be elaborated on. Do not think that you need to have a unique IA and that this can only be done through a unique topic. Instead, surprise the assessor by providing the best and most concise analysis with a unique and holistic evaluation.


Generally, the IA should involve an article that discusses a specific problem in a certain market, and then government action for solving this problem. This can be seen in the following topics below.


Microeconomics:

When choosing a microeconomic topic, focus on a market failure that can be illustrated in a diagram, and what the government has done to alleviate the problem. I would recommend only doing the following:

  • Tax on demerit goods (like cigarettes)

  • Subsidy on a merit good (like agriculture)


These topics are the only topics that provide you with a simple externality diagram that you can analyse, and then a tax/subsidy diagram with clear predictable effects on stakeholders. Even something as simple as a price ceiling or floors tends to have too many implications to properly evaluate.


Make sure the article you choose only discusses a singular market for one good/service.

Potential Key Concepts include:

  • Intervention

  • Sustainability

  • Equity


Macroeconomics:

Once again, focus on a key macroeconomic problem (inflation, unemployment etc) and what must be done to fix it. Because of this, you’re only options include.

  • Contractionary Monetary Policy

  • Contractionary Fiscal Policy

  • Expansionary Monetary Policy

  • Expansionary Fiscal Policy


Even with these 4 options, you should limit yourself to the most basic examples of such policies. That means no quantitative easing or other HL-only topics. For your evaluation though, you can delve into complex topics like crowding out.


Make sure the article you choose only discusses one government policy to solve the problem.

Potential Key Concepts Include:

  • Economic well-being

  • Change

  • Equity


Global Economy:

This one is the hardest topic as it's so easy to get carried away in the modern global climate. But just remember to keep your topic as simple as possible.

  • Tariff


Yes, I’d only recommend doing a tariff topic. Even the explanation for a quota or export subsidy topic may be too complicated for such a limited word count, in the end, it is up to you though. If you found a very good article that involves a quota or subsidy then feel free to go for it.


Make sure the article you choose is only between 2 countries and one microeconomic market.

Potential Key Concepts Include:

  • Interdependence 

  • Scarcity

  • Efficiency 


Choosing an Article:

What also makes the Economic IA unique is that it requires a lot of adaptability. Instead of being given free reign over what you want to include in your IA, you are subject to what is included in the article you choose, and thus it may seem very frustrating at times. You can’t just apply generic textbook analysis and evaluation, but must consider what analysis and evaluation the article suggests. Without proper references to the article at hand, you won’t do well. This is why choosing a good article is very important.


You need to try and find an article that is not too complex and does all your economic analysis for you (thus avoid economic journals like Bloomberg or The Financial Times), but not too simple, which gives you nothing to work with. You also have to make sure it’s recent, within 1 year of writing the commentary, as that is part of the Rubric Requirements. If you are a well-informed individual, this should be easy, as you already have a good understanding of your current economic surroundings to know what to google to find a good article. If you aren’t though, scrolling through economic journals or just googling keywords like ‘tax’ ‘subsidy’ ‘interest rates’ etc, can help you get a good idea as to what specific real-world situation you want to write about. If the article doesn’t involve both analysis and evaluation with statistics, then don’t choose it.


Structure:

The structure for all 3 IA’s are basic.

  • Introduction (150 words)

  • Diagram 1: The problem

  • Analysis (150 words)

  • Diagram 2: The solution

  • Analysis (150 words)

  • Evaluation (300 words)

  • Conclusion (50 words)


Another alternative is to collapse your 2 diagrams into 1. This may lead to it looking messier, and thus requires a lot of skill to pull off effectively, but it will save you a lot of words in the analysis section that can be used to make your evaluation shine. The choice is ultimately dependent on the type of article you have and what it gives you.


Make sure not to confuse any of the paragraphs, don’t evaluate in your analysis and vice versa. The clear distinction will help your assessor when marking your essay.


Throughout every point in your essay, remember to incorporate quotes from the article as well as your key concept. After finishing each paragraph/point reflect on whether both are included and integrated in a meaningful way. If not, then revise it.


Diagram:

A good diagram comes from making sure that everything is fully labelled and, if possible, incorporating key figures from the article into the diagram. If you do these two things well, you shouldn’t struggle to get the 3/3 marks for this criterion. Remember that the diagram does not count toward the word count, so be as elaborate as possible when labelling the diagram, without it being messy. Also make sure it is big, at least 1/3 of the page to have space to label everything neatly. Lastly, by choosing a simple IA topic, the appropriate diagrams should be obvious. 


Terminology:

As 2/14 of the marks, it sometimes can be overlooked, but in this criterion, you show to the assessor that you understand economic ideas well by using appropriate terminology when applicable. This means that you can’t just throw in buzzwords in hopes of getting this mark. Instead, define key terms applicable to your IA and don’t give a textbook definition. For example, you can define an indirect tax by referencing the specific good in your article. Thus, your sentence could look more like:

The indirect tax imposed on x involves an additional '20%' (quote from the article) cost that is imposed on the producer by the government for the sale of this good. This leads to…(analysis)

This sentence still defines your key terms without wasting words that would otherwise be spent on analysis or introduction.


Application and Analysis:

In this section, worth 3 marks, the most important aspect is constantly referencing your diagram, at least once per sentence. By doing that you ensure that all your analysis is concise and relevant to the topic. Try to also mention every single label you’ve included. This ensures that you’ve covered all potential avenues for analysis before moving on to evaluation. Also, ensure that you integrate as many quotes as possible into this section to show the connection between economic theory and your real-world situation.


Evaluation:

This is the most important aspect of your IA, worth 4 marks. Include an evaluation of all possible stakeholders, long-term and short-term (within the confines of your article). Any other evaluation alluded to by the article should be included. You need to elaborate as much as possible in your evaluation. Think about the implications of all your analysis and take it to its conclusion. Less points can be better if it means you have fully developed other evaluation points. You should be able to reference the diagram still, but don’t make it the focal point, you should have done most of the work in the analysis section.

 

It’s important to note that in this criteria, communication is not included. This doesn’t mean it’s not important, as the assessor needs to be able to understand what you are saying, but it does mean you have more liberty as to how you present your ideas for the sake of saving words. You won’t be penalized for including contractions or acronyms if it doesn’t impede clarity.


And that's it! Best of luck with your own Economics Internal Assessment. You've got this!

98 views1 comment

1 comentario


Miembro desconocido
22 may

Thank you very much for these very helpful tips. IB Solved has helped me become a better learner and a better version of myself. A special shout out to Mr Alex Ciarroni, for this unwavering support during such trying times.

Me gusta
bottom of page