The International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology Internal Assessment (IA) is a crucial component of the IB Biology Higher Level (HL) curriculum. The IA allows students to demonstrate their understanding of biological concepts and skills by conducting independent research and analysis. A high-quality IA can contribute up to 20% of the final IB Biology HL grade, making it an essential component of a student’s performance.
In this guide, we will outline the key components for acing your IB Biology Internal Assessment. From choosing a relevant and feasible topic, to effectively organizing and presenting your findings, we will provide you with the tools and strategies needed to excel in this challenging but rewarding task.
IA Cover Page
● Title (e.g. “A study investigating…”)
● Your Research Question
IA Contents Page
1. Title and Research Question
3. Background Information
5. Variables (Independent, Dependent, Controlled and Uncontrolled)
7. Preliminary Experiment
9. Risk Assessment
I. The IA Title and Research Question
Identify a broad topic statement, ensuring that your research question is stated and includes both the dependent and independent variables.
Your research question should include the following, where appropriate :
● The organism (if appropriate) has a scientific name
Including the following will allow you to effectively convey clarity in your research question, and thoroughly explain what you will be investigating.
II. Introduction and Background Information:
Introduction: Your introduction is rooted in background information about the organism and or the topic that you will be investigating in your IA. You should demonstrate strong personal engagement by a statement of purpose. For instance, you would avoid using cliche phrases such as “I have always loved..”, but rather opt for phrases that clearly illustrate your passion with the real, outside world, or your genuine reason for choosing the topic that you will be investigating.
Go on to enhance your understanding of your research question while ensuring that your background information is:
● Within context of the range of independent variables
● Within context of the dependent variables being used
● In-text cited, based on the referencing systems used in your school (e.g.
Harvard/ MLA referencing)
● Supported by a preliminary experiment through the inclusion of a short paragraph about how it was carried out, to show your clarity on how you would conduct your main experiment.
While conducting a preliminary experiment shows great engagement, many students do not do it/are not able to carry one out for various different reasons. If you have not carried out a preliminary experiment, research and describe the following instead :
● Range and intervals of your independent variables
● How you will be measuring your dependent variable
“The null hypothesis is a typical statistical theory which suggests that no statistical relationship and significance exists in a set of given single observed variables, betweentwo sets of observed data and measured phenomena” (“Null Hypothesis – an Overview |ScienceDirect Topics”).
● Independent, dependent and controlled variables are clearly stated
● Ensure to have at least 5 intervals and at least 15 repeats for each interval
● Explain how and why you are using those variables, how certain variables may not be controlled, and how you minimise the effects of these to suit it to your experiment effectively.
Ensure that all apparatus, chemicals and solutions are listed and / or shown in a diagram if relevant and all apparatus used are relevant. (Not an obligatory list, can be given in the method)
● Outline method in a step by step, list-like format
● Reflect on every controlled variable in the method while explaining
● State that you have : “Repeated method ____ for verification” at the end of every section.
VII. Risk Assessment to ensure safety
Include a risk assessment of apparatus and chemicals and show awareness of
ethical issues – eg handling of animals
environmental issues – eg impact on field sites
VIII. Analysis and Evaluation
Ensure that your analysis section includes sufficient correlated qualitative and quantitative observations, anomalies that have been clearly pointed out and explained, statistical tests and graphs that explain the data collected.
● Conclude by making explicit reference to the research question. In other words,your conclusion should directly answer the question : “Does the data answer the Research Question?”
● State if your null hypothesis is accepted or rejected
● Refer to the graph and data points to clearly demonstrate your understanding and strong conclusion
● Compare the conclusion with published data and predictions
(A good tip here is to put your graph in and next to it put a graph from a textbook or website. Can you either explain any differences or relate it to scientific theory?)
● Strengths and weaknesses of your investigation
● Further extensions that could have been carried out.
● Include all links and a bibliography page.
In conclusion, acing your IB Biology Internal Assessment requires a combination of dedication, attention to detail, and a strong understanding of the IB Biology HL curriculum. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can approach the IA with confidence and increase your chances of success. Remember to stay organized, stay focused, and never be afraid to ask for help to us when needed.