Exploring Times Long Gone
History was one of my favourite subjects back in high school because it had so many lessons for the present. I loved learning about times that were long gone and could not be revisited. If you are studying history as an IB subject, you will have the chance to do some research about a topic of your choice on your own for your Internal Assessment (IA). I think it is amazing that they give students this opportunity because even if your history teacher did not pick good topics from the syllabus, you can still write on the good topics. In my class, people wrote about anything from lost documents from the Middle Ages to reasons for World War Two.
When you are picking a topic for your IA, it is important that you give your choice a lot of thought. Write down the things you are interested in and do some initial research on them. Do not get me wrong - you are not supposed to spend ten hours researching each topic! Reading a few journal articles can already be enough. This will give you an idea of the availability of sources on your topic. Remember that the IB expects you to find enough sources. You need to evaluate whether you will be able to find a sufficient amount of sources for your IA. Researching the topic will also allow you to become more of an expert on the topic and therefore, you will have an easier time formulating your research question. When picking a question, it is important to ask yourself whether you can realistically answer it in 2,200 words. 2,200 words may sound like a lot but once you start writing your IA, you will realise how little 2,200 words actually are.
When you have many words to spend, it is often hard to decide how many words you should allocate to which section. When writing my IA, I followed this recommendation for word counts for the different sections:
Identification & Evaluation of Sources: 500 words
When you are writing your IA, make sure that you are working according to a schedule. Your teacher will probably set a deadline for your first and final drafts but scheduling in when you will complete these drafts will be up to you. I would recommend setting yourself some mini-deadlines. These deadlines can be for small things like making a list of sources to read or bigger accomplishments like finishing one section of your IA. It is important that you divide each step into small deadlines so that you will be more motivated to work on a task. Mini deadlines also help you to track your progress and keep you accountable. I would highly recommend writing down all your tasks before starting to work on your IA. Seeing everything you will have to do before submitting your final draft to the IB will allow you to schedule all tasks.
One thing to do before typing one word of your IA is looking into citation. Make sure to check with your teacher whether they prefer a certain style or if you can use any citation style. I would recommend this website for learning how to cite in a certain style. Your citations are not included in the criteria, but not citing correctly can make your work not count due to plagiarism. And remember: your footnotes and biography do not count towards your word count!
Once you have written your first draft, I would recommend doing peer review before submitting it to your teacher. Your peers may not be able to grade your assignment, but they will catch smaller mistakes such as grammar mistakes and sentences which are unclear to a reader. Peer review can help polish your first draft and will allow your teacher to focus his feedback more on the content of your IA rather than things such as grammar or sentence structure. Trust me, your teacher will be grateful!
Good luck to all of you writing your IAs this year! If you have any questions, feel free to message me!
Lots of Love,
P. S.: Here is some more advice for the IB History course: