IB History IA Sections: A Guide for IB Diploma Students

May 11, 2023

IB History IA Sections

Your IA is worth 20% (HL) or 25% (SL) of your total grade. It is in your best advantage to devote considerable effort on the History IA, since it is an excellent assignment.

Some may even argue that you should prioritize your IA above your EE because the IA has a greater impact on your ultimate grade.

Your IB History IA has just 2200 words. Your investigation’s primary body (Section 2) is barely 1300 words long. The second section is a normal academic research essay.

Due to the length of Section 2, it is imperative that you select a specific, well-defined, and controversial issue. Your query must be sharp. Anything too wide or unclear will result in an ambiguous IA.

Key Takeaways

  • Include your query and a clear explanation of why you picked two relevant sources in Section 1.
  • Section 2 of your research essay comprises your conclusion. Keep in mind that this needs extensive citations and references.
  • Section 3 is a reflection on what this process has taught you about the difficulties historians face.
  • You must include a bibliography with an appropriate structure.

History IA Sections Explained

The following is a brief explanation of the three sections of IB History IA:

In Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of Sources

IB requires you to:

  • Clearly state an appropriate research question
  • Identify and select appropriate relevant sources
  • Explain why the sources are relevant to the investigation
  • Analyze and evaluate two sources with explicit reference to their origins, purposes, and contents.

A surprising proportion of students failed to specify the research subject as a question on the title page or inside Section A, and they often lose significant points as a result.

Several study questions are either too broad or do not foster an analytical approach to the issue, but rather a narrative account of the occurrences.

The six fundamental ideas for History (causation, consequence, continuity, change, relevance, and viewpoints) might assist you in developing research questions that avoid a narrative approach and in developing a more critical outlook on themes.

To get the highest marks (5-6 points) in Section 1 of your IB History IA, you must articulate the significance of two sources to their inquiry. It’s unfortunate that only a few students meet this criterion.

Many students tend to submit their research topic and then evaluate two sources without providing an explanation for their selection.

Despite the fact that evaluating sources is a common hurdle, there is definitely opportunity for improvement in this regard.

You should utilize the origins, purpose, and substance of each source as supporting evidence to evaluate the sources’ strengths and weaknesses as historical sources for the investigated issue.

In the past assessments, many candidates cited these factors, but just briefly addressed the values and restrictions at the conclusion. Some also made a poor selection of sources, claiming that one source provided inadequate information on the issue. You shouldn’t make similar mistakes.

Not every source considered in this section is explicitly recognized. Although you may refer to “Source A” or “Source 1” in their evaluation, you must include the full information of each source inside the Section. You can do this by using a header for each evaluation, giving full details in footnotes, or including the whole title, author, and publication date when explaining the sources of each source.

Section 2: Investigation

In this section, IB expects you to:  

  • Demonstrate a clear, coherent, and effective organization of your investigation.
  • Provide a well-developed critical analysis clearly focused on the research question.
  • Provide evidence from a wide variety of sources to support the arguments.
  • Evaluate perspectives.  
  • Reach a logical and consistent conclusion.

Integration of evidence and analysis into a single piece is a new and effective feature.

You have to submit work that is typically straightforward and well organized. Remember that if the study topics lacked clarity, your studies will come out ambiguous and superficial.

Also, you should not just provide enough context on the overall issue without focusing on the specific study question. Doing so does not allow for the development of critical analysis or the examination of other perspectives, hence the result of low grades.

The usefulness of using sources as evidence in investigation is highly variable. It is crucial for to comprehend that you must utilize the variety of sources contained in this area effectively to bolster the offered arguments.

While some candidates make effective use of several sources that provided diverse viewpoints on their inquiry, others tend to summarize the two sources reviewed in Section 1 and cited a few other sources.

Note that the integration of information from sources and analysis should be explicit, and sources utilized must support the claims.

Despite the fact that many students present a coherent conclusion in this section, several students tend to present their conclusion in Section 3.

Section 3: Reflection

This part is intended to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on what your inquiry revealed about the methodologies employed by historians and the issues they face.

You are required to focus on three primary areas:

  • What you learned about the techniques employed by historians
  • The limitations of such approaches and the issues historians confront
  • The relationship between the inquiry and the reflection

Some students tend to misunderstand this section’s criteria and they treat it as a conclusion. This can and will have a detrimental influence on their Section 2 (lack of conclusion) and Section 3 (inadequate introduction).

Other applicants addressed their own experiences by, for instance, describing why they were interested in the issues or noting that the inquiry helped them become more organized.

Such concerns are irrelevant to the methods employed by historians and the issues they encounter. Hence, they should not be included in this section.

Some candidates explicitly focused on what the inquiry revealed to them about the methodology and problems of historians’ work and made specific links between the section and the remainder of the research.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide helps you to work on the different sections of the History IA without having to second-guess your progress.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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