Many of us can agree that History makes for an extremely interesting subject. It takes you into the past and lets you learn about key events and people who were instrumental in shaping our present.
However, what happens when you are asked to single-handedly perform a “historical investigation” on a topic of your choice?
Getting jittery? Don’t worry – we got you covered.
IB’s History Internal Assessment (IA) is a critical and compulsory assignment that requires SL and HL students to choose a historical topic and conduct a thorough critical analysis on it. The purpose of this assessment is to encourage students to explore a novel historical topic and put their skills and knowledge into practical use.
Everything You Need to Know to Get Excellent Grades in your History IA
Your History IA is one of those assessments you cannot afford to take lightly because it comprises of 25% of your overall grade. A slip up here will make all your efforts go waste. Students are expected to stick to the 2,200 word limit and devote a total of 20 hours to this assignment.
How to Choose the Perfect Topic for IB History IA?
An excellent History IA paper starts with a strong topic.
Here’s how you can ensure you choose the appropriate topic for this research assignment.
Explore Interests and Relevancy
The fact that you need to spend 20 hours on this assignment and do a thorough job at it is less intimidating when you are dealing with a topic that genuinely interests you. When you do that, it will no longer be looked upon as a tick-box exercise because you will be able to immerse yourself in the whole process and fetch a better output.
So, think of all the historical events that intrigue you – here’s your chance to dive deep into either of them and explore it entirely.
Apart from choosing a topic of interest, you can also choose historical events that are relevant to your country of origin or current area of residence. This will not only let you get better avenues to conduct research by visiting landmarks or historical sites in the locality but it will also help you relate to it better.
Pick a Focussed Research Question
The importance of choosing a narrow and specific research question cannot be emphasized enough. Anything broad, vague and open-ended is an absolute no-no because it is impossible to conduct a focussed investigation on it.
So, consider aspects such as time frame, location, date, etc and narrow it down as much as possible.
At the same time, stay away from exploring obvious questions because your instructor would already know the answer before reading your paper, giving no scope for you to express your unique views.
Want to know more about developing a question for historical investigation?
Keep it Interesting and Original
You may think you can pick out a topic from your History syllabus and base your IA on it but that’s not advisable because there is nothing new you will be bringing to the table.
Even if you wish to choose a topic from your existing syllabus, make sure you adopt a different angle to demonstrate independent and original thinking.
Scope for Investigation
Remember – you are expected to do an investigation as part of your History IA. What does that mean? You need to do a detailed critical analysis of the research question stated, evaluate two sources and present evidence to support your argument.
Hence, ensure the topic you choose gives you ample scope for investigation and interpretation to accurately meet the grading criteria. Moreover, the paper needs to be limited to 2,200 words so opt for a topic/research question that can be explored within the given word limit.
Seek Guidance from your Instructor
The IB guidelines clearly state that teachers need to support and guide students through the process of completing their IA – something that many students are unaware of.
Once you finalize the topic, you must consult your teacher and ask for feedback. They might be able to offer you a perspective that you would have missed looking into.
Teachers are also permitted to offer advice on one draft of your IA paper. So, don’t rush into submitting the final version. Take your teacher through your first draft and understand how you can make it stronger.
Your teachers are meant to offer you guidance at every step – how much you use that to your advantage is up to you.
6 Tips to Successfully Write your History IA
Now that you have zeroed down on a topic, it’s time to get working on the assignment. You need to have a concrete plan in place before writing the IA paper.
Considering the overload of information you will be exposed to, it’s a good idea to break down the research, writing and editing process and allocate enough time to each of the stages.
Worried you will lose your mind? Don’t be.
Here are 6 tips to help you ace your History IA paper.
Gather Enough Evidence
There’s nothing worse than realizing you have not done enough research in the midst of writing the paper. To avoid such a scenario and undue wastage of time, ensure you refer to a wide range of primary and secondary sources to gather evidence to support your arguments.
Don’t make the mistake of relying on Wikipedia – it is not a trusted source of information. Instead, take the effort to browse through encyclopedias, online resources, diaries, academic reports, journals, newspaper articles, magazines, biographies, documentaries and even interviews.
Make sure you highlight every piece of reference that you plan to include in the paper along with the original source – this makes citing references a lot smoother.
A well-structured and professionally written History IA paper is bound to get you good scores. Divide you paper into the following 3 sections.
Identification and evaluation of sources (500 words):
In this section, you need to state the topic of investigation as a research question, enlist the sources you will be referring to along with their relevance. Make sure you evaluate two sources in detail while highlighting their purpose, origin, value and limitations.
Investigation (1300 words):
This is where you will have to write a clear investigation of the question. Start with giving context on the historical issue or event and then go on to state your inference supported by strong arguments and evidence collected from the research undertaken.
Reflection (400 words):
This final section needs you to reflect on the revelation that your exploration highlighted, the methods employed, and the challenges you faced in the process.
It is advisable to name the sections as stated above so your instructor is able to easily locate them and mark you accordingly.
The paper needs to end with a bibliography containing accurate references to all the sources included in your paper.
Cater to the Assessment Criteria
The best part about writing IA papers is that students have full access to the assessment criteria. So, you must keep it by your side and use it as a checklist to ensure you are meeting the highest scores in every criteria.
You will be assessed against the following criteria:
- Identification and evaluation of sources (6 marks)
- Investigation (15 marks)
- Reflection (4 marks)
The least you can do is write and edit your paper such that you adhere to the topmost scoring band in the assessment criteria. That way, you know you have delivered your best and tailor-made your assignment to suit the highest level of requirements.
Acknowledge Limitations of Sources
Every source you come across won’t be perfect. There are bound to be limitations and shortcomings. A well-rounded research paper is one that acknowledges those limitations.
By acknowledging them, it shows your attention to detail and projects you to be aware of your paper’s weaknesses.
In fact the criteria, ‘Identification and evaluation of sources’ clearly gives high scores to papers that demonstrate “a detailed analysis and evaluation of two sources with explicit discussion of the value and limitations of two of the sources for the investigation, with reference to the origins, purpose and content of the two sources.”
So, instead of hiding behind the garb of a “perfect” paper, you rather mention the limitations of the sources used.
Write with Clarity
You can do the best of research and analysis but nothing matters if you are unable to use the right words to articulate yourself well. After all, it all boils down to how you choose to write your paper.
Right from stating the research question to writing the paper and bibliography – it is important to deliver a clearly written and organized IA paper that meets the word count and guidelines.
In order to write with clarity, you need to know what you want to say. It is all about making your paper comprehensible, staying away from pretentious language and letting the reader derive value from your writing.
Here’s a useful video to how to write clearly and concisely
Avoid Last-Minute Writing
One of the biggest mistakes students make is procrastinating and putting off their History IA paper till the very last minute. Doing this will have an adverse effect on your final grade because there is no way you can condense all the comprehensive research, writing and editing work into a couple of days and still manage to do justice to it.
Yes, there will be instances when you will be burdened with too many tasks or might find yourself getting stuck while writing your History IA paper. At such times, instead of doing a haphazard job at it and compromising on your grades, you should consider reaching out IA paper writing experts like Writers Per Hour.
Our IB qualified writers are equipped to deliver high-quality IA papers and can turn them around to meet your urgent deadlines.
11 Interesting History Internal Assessment Topic Ideas for your Inspiration
1. The causes for the origins and rise of Islam in the period between c. 500 and c. 661
2. The relation between society and the economy in the 18th century
3. Religion had a close connection with the state in the 18th century
4. Intellectual, cultural, and artistic developments in the 17th century
5. Peacemaking and peacekeeping gel with international relations
6. The causes of the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1945–79
7. The reason behind communism in crisis in the period between 1976 and 1989
8. An in-depth contextualization of the causes, practices and effects of wars
9. Origins and development of authoritarian and single-party states
10. Nationalist and independence movements in Africa and Asia and post-1945 Central and Eastern European states
11. In-depth analysis: the beginning and end of the Cold War
Whether you are someone who enjoys History or is aversed by it, if you take serious interest in writing your History IA, you are sure to emerge loving the subject because it encourages you to push the boundaries, think beyond theoretical knowledge acquired in your classes and apply critical thinking skills to investigate a historical event. So, enjoy this assignment and follow this guide to the T to score the best grades.