It’s finally time!
After months of writing and refining, it’s time to submit the internal assessment (IA). Excited to strike-out the IAs from their to-do lists at last, most IB students would often submit without first giving it one final look through.
But, wait, I already checked my IA, most students reading this may think.
Not these final four IA checks.
These last checks go beyond paraphrasing to meet the word or page count of the IA. Neither does it include checking for grammatical mistakes or wrongly spelled words.
Disclaimer: this is NOT the blog post where we go into how to choose a good research question and ensure the focus is sustained. Those are the initial steps. This blog is meant to serve as a reminder of what to check for right before submitting the IA for final submission.
Check the IA formatting
The way an IA is graded is not contingent on formatting. In fact, most marking schemes do not assign marks for formatting in their marking rubrics. For instance, a student’s Math Applications and Interpretations IA is assessed on five criteria, none of which accounts for the IA’s formatting.
Despite not being a criteria, students should not discount it. The formatting of an IA can often affect the examiners’ perception of the work- even before they read it. A well-formatted IA hints to markers that the coursework is of a certain quality.
Generally, teachers would instruct their students on how to format their IA. But in the event that they don’t, here are some guidelines students can use when checking their work.
- Use professional and easy-to-read fonts: e.g., Arial or Times New Roman.
- Font size should be no smaller than a size 11.
- Single (or greater) line spacing.
- Portrait orientation, with exceptions for graphs and diagrams.
As a rule of thumb, these formatting choices should enhance the overall readability of the IA. It should also be consistent across the document. Students should pay extra caution after graphs and diagrams as it is typically a hotspot for formatting mix-ups.
- The font chosen is professional and clean-looking.
- The same font is used consistently across the IA.
- The font size is at least 11.
- The same font size is used consistently across the IA.
- The line-spacing is even and consistent across the IA.
- The page orientation is set to portrait.
Don’t miss out the page numbers
Most IB students do not check their page numbers.
Checking the pagination of the document goes beyond their position on the page. It also includes ensuring that the page numbers start on the correct page. For all- if not most- internal assessments, the first page of the document is not “page number 1”. That is because the first page of the IA document is the cover page and they are not included in the page count.
The content page is another page that should not have a page number. Together with the cover page, they form the IA’s preliminary pages. Pagination should start only after these preliminary pages. If students are uncertain which pages to number, they should clarify it with their subject teachers.
Students should also make sure that after the preliminary pages, your IA should start with page 1. This may sound silly, but it would be even sillier if the first page of the IA is numbered page 3. (PS: it has happened before!)
A final check students should do is with regards to the page numbers on the content page. Occasionally, some edits may cause a change in the page numbering. So, we would recommend students to set aside time to check that the page numbers on the content page correspond with the page number of IA.
- The position of the page number on the page is consistent.
- There is no page number for the cover page.
- There is no page number for the content page.
- The IA starts with page number ‘1’.
Keep the IA anonymous
For many students, it is second nature to write their name on their assignments. However, for their IA submission, they should not do so. To ensure that grading is conducted fairly, the IB has mandated that the submitted work should remain anonymous.
When checking the finished IA, students should look out for any identifiers. These may come in the form of personal names, schools, even session numbers. As this information could make a student’s identity known, it should be omitted.
Personal names and session numbers are only allowable when used in filenames.
The only form of identification on the IA should be the candidate’s number. This number is an official code the IB assigns to each student. They are used to identify candidate’s official coursework and forms. Students may check with their school’s IB coordinator if they do not know their candidate number.
- There are no personal names or identifiers used in the IA.
- There are no school names found in the IA.
- The IA does not make mention of the session number.
- Candidate number is typed correctly.
Check the IA citations
The MOST crucial part of the IA is the citations.
As with any research, the referencing of earlier works is nowhere unusual. It is even acceptable… as long as the referenced work has been properly cited. Failure to do so suggests plagiarism, which is universally frowned upon by schools. The IB is no exception.
Students can avoid this by checking that they have cited all references made to external sources. Both in the in-text and bibliography.
Students should also check that their IA uses one citation format. In schools, teachers may expose students to several types of citation styles. Though they all state where an idea or thought was from, they do so in their own format.
To clarify, there is no one citation style that is ‘better’ than the rest. The style used by students in their IA are usually assigned by their teacher, or chosen by them at the start of their IA.
Some common formats used by local and international IB schools in Singapore are MLA, APA and Harvard. If students are unsure which style to use in their IA, they should clarify it with their teachers.
Once again, we would like to emphasise the importance of this final IA check. Students should not skip it, even if they have used a citation generator. Scanning the citations again can help them pick up errors, like a misspelling of the author’s name.
- All direct and indirect quotations have corresponding in-text citations.
- The same citation format is applied to all in-text citations.
- The same citation format is applied to all the sources listed in the bibliography.
- The title of the source referenced is spelt correctly.
- The names of the authors are spelt correctly.
- The year the source is published is correct.