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How to Structure and Format Your Math IA

How to Structure and Format Your Math IA

IB Maths is a struggle for most people going through their diplomas.

To make matters worse, besides just doing the dreaded maths exam, we’re also expected to write a Maths IA exploration into a topic of our choice! You can think of the IA as a written mathematical presentation that can impact your final grade.

Many IB students find it hard to study mathematical concepts. However, this process can help you reflect on new Maths IA logic that you may not have known previously.

So, where do you even begin your IA? Start with the IA structure and format!

Maths IA Structure: What is the internal assessment?

The internal assessment is an individual assessment that a subject teacher evaluates, and it uses a list of criteria that focus on some subject-related work.

Alongside the criteria, samples of the student’s work (oral performances, portfolios, lab reports, and essays) are also submitted to the IB. It should show personal engagement with the topic at hand. In this case, we would be looking at the correlation between mathematical concepts and how to investigate them to score highly on your IA.

Introduction:

Like almost all of your internal assessments, your Maths IA has to begin with a super clear introduction that sets the context for your exploration and what you aim to find out.

It is a great place to show your ‘personal engagement’ with the topic you’ve chosen for your IA.

‘Why are you interested in this topic?’, ‘is it relevant to any specific part of your life? Do you have any prior knowledge of this topic?

What are you trying to achieve, and how will you arrive at an answer to your question?

You may also include any personalised problem statements and explain how you aim to achieve a solid investigation on the topic.

Body:

Following this, the body of your IA exploration should focus on the particular topic you have chosen to investigate and the relevant mathematical material that will help answer or address the intended aim of the work.

A pivotal point to consider is the level and clarity of Maths you use - the IB rewards a lot of marks for the use and communication of Mathematics, so keep this in mind when you start writing your Maths IA up! 

For more info on how to write the exploration, check out our complete Math IA Guide!

Maths IA investigation:

As with all assessments, you also need to include a solid conclusion that summarises the research and work you’ve done.

What conclusions did you reach, and did you succeed in exploring the aim that you set out at the beginning of the IA! Importantly, make sure to also discuss some of the challenges in your IA and what you would/could explore with more time and more words.

Finally, zoom out and think about the further implications of your study.

Did your learning affect your life in any way, or how might it affect the lives of others? How has your involvement allowed you to reflect on different mathematics topics?

Length:

There is no specific word count for your Math IA, but the IB advises that the exploration should be around 12-20 pages long

Font/Spacing for your Maths IA:

There are no specific requirements on which font you should use, but going with Arial or Times New Roman at 12pt is generally recommended. It would help if you wrote it with double line spacing.

You may write the IA in a word processing software (like Microsoft Word or Pages), or it can be handwritten!

We recommend using word processing software for clarity to make it easier for teachers to read.

Diagrams and Graphs:

You should include relevant graphs, tables, and diagrams throughout your exploration.

Do not place these simply as appendices at the end of the essay.

Ensure that your diagrams and graphs are fully and clearly labelled to ensure that the examiner knows what you've included! It forms an essential part of your research and shows that you fully understand the examples you have included in your analysis.

Bibliography and Citations:

Your report should include a full bibliography with all sources you used and referenced throughout your essay.

This bibliography should be attached to the end of your report. In addition to a bibliography at the end, you must acknowledge all direct quotes that you use throughout your essay. 

Appendix:

If you have additional relevant information, whether in graphs, tables, diagrams, or anything else, you may attach it as appendices to the documents if you so choose.

Appendices are specifically helpful for including information on data sets, graphs that show additional interesting information, or other content that you need to remove to stay under the 20-page limit.

You might want to include definitions for mathematical terminology, key terms found in your work, and relevant examples to demonstrate your understanding of the research.

Remember that your essay summary should conclude any ideas laid out in your introduction.

Topic Ideas for SL and HL math:

You might want to write about ideas for your internal assessment, including graph theory, surface area, geometry, calculus equations, statistics, linear regression, modelling statistics, the SIR model, etc.

It would help if you first understood the mark scheme before deciding on your topic to ensure you use premium content in your work that can help you score highly.

In your development, you may investigate the correlation between different topics or ideas within Mathematics SL and HL or your AI SL.

Whatever you choose, remember that you will create a new exploration of complex ideas. It's wise to form your own opinions - it's hard to give a wrong answer if you substantiate your work and link to examples.

IB Maths IA structure: conclusion

So there we have it, a comprehensive introduction to the structure and format of your Maths IA!

We hope this will give you the push you need to realise your potential and understand complex mathematical concepts.

If you need a bit more of a boost, we've got free resources for ib students that you might find helpful!

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