Maths SL IA Tips

Timothy Hoffmann

IB Maths SL IA Tips

The Maths IA contributes to 20% of your total grade, so it is worth doing well in it. There are some things you need to keep in mind if you want to create a great IA.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

For your Mathematics SL IA, you have to do what the IB calls the Mathematical Exploration. This is a piece of written work that involves investigating an area of mathematics. It is graded out of 20 marks in total and contributes to 20% of your total grade, so it is worth doing well in it, especially if you are aiming for a 6 or a 7. There are some things you need to keep in mind if you want to create a great IA.

Personal engagement
4 of your total 20 marks are just for showing personal engagement, so aim to get these easy marks. Yes, you can show personal engagement by choosing a topic you are interested in, but you should show it throughout your entire IA. Write in the first person, present the maths in your own style, talk about how you felt (yes, don’t be shy to say you were surprised or frustrated) as your investigation moved forward, and so on.

Structure and presentation
How clearly and well you present your work is worth around 7 marks (4 for communication and 3 for your mathematical presentation). Thus, make sure you have a proper structure and your vocabulary, labels and notations are flawless. They are easy points to get, as long as you pay attention to detail, so take your time to edit your work.

It’s okay to be wrong
If your exploration goes wrong at any point, use it to your advantage. If you prove yourself wrong, or find that what you found was not what you were hoping for, write it down and make it clear. Point out the flaws during your investigation as well as what went well.  If you do this throughout your body, you will be showing that you are reflecting on your work, which is another 3 easy marks to get. Recognising your errors can give you the extra marks you need to reach your desired grade.

Keep it simple
Most students go crazy trying to use complex mathematics to impress their teachers. In reality, you only need to use a level of maths equivalent to the SL syllabus. The IB is more concerned about how you show your knowledge and understanding of the mathematical topic you choose. So, make sure you choose something hard enough for Maths SL, but something you understand well and can prove you are knowledgeable of. It’s better to keep it simple and do that than overcomplicating your investigation and end up confused and not knowing what you are saying.

If you don’t leave it until the last minute, your IA will surely go well. For more guidance, check the links below.

Further Reading