How to Write the Economics Internal Assessment (Getting Started)

The next 3 posts will provide you with a bullet-proof system for scoring full marks on your Economics Internal Assessments, following the new 2013 syllabus. The IA is a brilliant opportunity to put some marks in the bank and make that 6 or 7 in the course much easier to achieve.

This first article will focus on choosing an appropriate article.

Why does this matter?

If you choose a bad article you’ll find it like competing in the Olympic 100 meter dash wearing your granny’s high heels. It doesn’t matter how good you are. Your name might be Usain Bolt. You’re working with the wrong equipment, so you’re gonna get beat. Here, just like in your Extended Essay and so much else in life, you’ve got to make good decisions at the start of the thing to end up where you want to go.

Actually, you need to decide on the concept you want to explore BEFORE you go looking for your article. You should normally focus on one of the really major concepts like supply and demand, market failure, or aggregate supply and taxes. And once you’ve done that you’ll know what type of article you’re looking for.

Here is how to spot the perfect article for your commentary

– Of course the article can’t be written by an economist. It relates to course concepts, but doesn’t explain or understand the economic reasons behind what’s going on. It might say something like, “apples are more expensive than they were before the drought, but no one can figure out why.” So you get to come in and be a hero.

– The article relates to theories that you have covered in class. If it’s about development, but you haven’t covered development yet, save that article for a later IA and find something you’re sure you can nail.

– The article can be sufficiently explained using two related theories. For example it might be explainable using (1) supply and demand, and (2) elasticity. It isn’t always necessary that two concepts be involved in your analysis to achieve full marks, but it allows you to show how theories interrelate (and that you know more than one concept).

– Make sure the article is not from a source or a country that you have covered in a previous IA. Using several different online sources are fine. But several articles from the same news organisation (i.e. all from the BBC, or all from the New York Times) is not okay.

The article must be published within the last 12 months. This isn’t 12 months from the start (or the end) of the course, but from the time you write that specific commentary.

– Finally, the article will be a slam-dunk, perfect example of the concept you want to discuss. You don’t want to have to waste words trying to justify why you think a certain product has negative externalities of consumption. It needs to be obvious. For example, vaccinations obviously have positive externalities of consumption. Wheat, while good for you (because if you don’t eat anything you’ll die) is a much worse choice. So you’d much rather go with the subsidising vaccinations article, if market failure is your concept of the concept of choice.

Google news is obviously a great source. Once you’ve chosen your concept you can go a long way doing simple searches like “cotton subsidy shortage,” or “vaccination price africa.” And then test the articles you find against the criteria above. It should take you too long if you know what you need. However, even if it does take you a couple of hours that’s time well spent.

The next post will lay out a step-by-step approach that get you top marks on your IA’s every time.

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13 Responses to How to Write the Economics Internal Assessment (Getting Started)

  1. Tim Woods says:

    Hi Tamara. They 3 posts you’re looking for are at the top all this page:

  2. Tim Woods says:

    Thanks Nicolette! Yes you’ll be fine including the USA the way you have. The IB is much less concerned about this issue (multiple country coverage in IA’s) than they used to be anyway. So don’t sweat it.

  3. Tim Woods says:

    I would always recommend starting with a theory you’ve recently covered in class and then go looking for an article which is an example of this theory. It’s better if you can find a recent problem (i.e. high unemployment) and then look at a policy which was suggested. Then you can use econ theory to explain what the results of that policy would likely be (analysis) and then evaluate what you’ve said.

  4. #ibeconomicsstudent says:

    I selected an article which is just a quarter page long and has no explanations nor any analysis.
    It is extremely simple to understand and talks only about recession and unemployment with a few statistics.

    Will I score less if I chose such an article which barely has information in it?

  5. Berk Metin says:

    Thanks very much, such an informative article, helped a lot 🙂

  6. Tommy says:

    I would like to ask that, I happened to have completed 2 econ IA from the same News source but different articles, is that alright? (One dicussing about China and one discussing about Hong Kong)

  7. Yuen says:


    I would love to get some tips on how to end an Economics IA?

    Thank you (:

  8. Sofie Lind says:

    Hello, I just wanted to say thank you for writing these guides. They have been extremely helpful for me, I was just about to panic and give up on my IA and now I am actually really proud of it.

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