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Welcome aboard to the world of IB chemistry, which is more than just the study of chemicals!
This guide is here to help you score the 7 you’ve been aiming for by breaking down the Chemistry IA Rubric, the marking criteria, and 30+ Chemistry, IA Topic Ideas, to make it a smooth ride.
If you are reading this blog, you are earnestly committed to boosting your IB Chemistry IA score.
The good news is that this is your one-stop destination for everything you need to know. Let’s start with the basics.
The Essence Of IB Chemistry
IB Chemistry is undoubtedly an essential subject that elaborates on the chemical concepts underlying our physical environment and the biological processes that lie under it.
The emphasis of IB Chemistry lies in the practical approach. Students doing the IB Chemistry IA are taught to design investigations and data collection to arrive at the results and familiarize themselves with how the more significant scientific community functions. For this purpose, every student of the DP is expected to write an IA.
Don't worry. It's not as tough as you might think it is!
IB Chemistry IA Upcoming Amendments
Now that you’ve gone through the curriculum and have a broad understanding of this course, you should also know that the IB Chemistry syllabus is under revision and subject to change post-2023.
Regarding the same, the following is stated by the IB:
- The ‘scientific investigation’ (internal assessment) will also see a change, with the opportunity for students to collaborate with each other within small groups. Where appropriate, the students will also be able to share similar methodologies, provided that the independent or dependent variables differ and the data collected is unique to each student.
- Students will continue to submit individual reports with a maximum word count of 3000 words.
- The revised criteria will emphasize higher-order thinking skills, with 50% of the marks allocated for Conclusion and Evaluation.
To convey the aforementioned in simple words, you will be pleased to work on your IA with your friends while submitting individual reports.
Additionally, the Conclusion and Evaluation segments of the IA must be taken seriously to score well.
Writing The IA - Is It A Daunting Task?
People will say it’s tough. We say it’s tough only if you want it to be.
To most of us, the IB Chemistry IA is a never-ending maze of dead ends.
Like all other IAs, it carries a huge weightage of 20% of your final score, making it all the more strenuous to be taken lightly.
One may cram their way through the External examinations. Still, the IB Chemistry IA, which emphasizes independent research, personal engagement and thorough analysis, seems like an insuperable obstacle.
All IB Chemistry students will readily admit how they grapple with scoring well in their IAs. It is one of the most challenging subjects owing mainly to the need for more clarity of information, the relevance of the research question to the Chemistry syllabus prescribed by IB, and the uniqueness of the topic, to name a few.
However, it isn’t all bad news. We at Nail IB are devoted to providing the best guide to cracking your IB Chemistry IA like a pro!
However, before we start, we have one tip that can completely change your IB Chemistry game.
Go through as many sample IAs as possible.
Ideally, go through the good and bad ones and reverse engineer the format, language and tone to form the base. Reading the previous submissions also boosts your confidence and gives you a better thought process. Nail IB’s experts bring you the best IB Chemistry HL and SL Notes to make it super easy.
And Nail IB will have it!
Now, going back to the IA.
The Internal Assessment is worth 20% of the final assessment, which amounts to 24 marks. The performance in internal assessment at both HL and SL is marked on the standard criteria mentioned below.
The scientific investigation has to be completed within 10 hours, and submission of a report of 6-12 pages long is sufficient.
A longer write-up is generally penalized for lack of brevity.
To achieve a Super 7, you must meet all the criteria mentioned below.
Grading Rubrics (Chemistry IA Criteria Breakdown)
To successfully nail the IB Chemistry IA, it is inevitable to familiarize ourselves with the Assessment Criteria and their respective markings.
Personal Engagement (Criterion A)
This means the extent to which the student engages with the exploration and makes it their own.
This would include addressing personal interests or expressing independent thinking and creativity in the investigation.
Exploration (Criterion B)
Students must establish a scientific context for their work, state a straightforward research question, and use concepts and techniques appropriate to the Diploma Programme level.
The safety, environmental and ethical considerations are also evaluated alongside this.
The background information must be appropriate and enhance the understanding of the context of the investigation.
Analysis (Criterion C)
Assess the extent to which the student’s report provides evidence that the student has selected, recorded, processed and interpreted the data relevant to the research question and supports the conclusion.
Evaluation (Criterion D)
A detailed conclusion has to be described and justified with strengths and weaknesses of the investigation, such as data limitations, sources of error and a clear understanding of the methodological issues involved in establishing the conclusion.
Communication (Criterion E)
The presentation of the investigation needs to be clear and well-structured.
The focus, process and outcomes must be stated coherently.
Subject-specific terminologies should be employed with the appropriate use of diagrammatic presentation of the data.
References and citations should also be stated clearly.
Structuring Your IB Chemistry IA The Right Way
Typically speaking, your IA should be divided into 8 sections.
The following paragraphs will elaborate on how to nail each so you, as an aspiring IB Chemistry student, can get closer to that sweet 7!
This is the opening part of the IA, and it sets the document's momentum by mentioning its aim and context.
Begin with how the Research Question resonates with you personally.
Next, explain the importance of the Research Question on real-world issues. Make sure that this is mentioned specifically and explicitly.
Lastly, elaborate on how it could be beneficial to the scientific community at large.
Next comes the hypothesis.
A hypothesis is the statement of an educated guess in the experiment based on observations. This segment should be short. You may justify the choice by using the Chemistry concepts learnt in class.
Selecting variables is central to any investigation.
3 types of variables should be kept in mind:
- Dependent variables,
- Independent variables, and
- Confounding variables
List all of these and evaluate why these variables were chosen and how they could skew the data and affect the experiment.
Remember to mention how you plan on monitoring and controlling them.
Equipment and Materials
Give a complete list of each equipment and material you've employed in your IA.
Carefully choose the glassware and instruments that could maximize your accuracy and, at the same, minimize the inaccuracies.
You may also like to justify your preferred apparatus and preferred material.
Be especially careful of the details. For example, write 100 ml graduated cylinder instead of the graduated cylinder.
Safety, Environmental and Ethical Considerations
Please list all the safety concerns and why they are essential to keep an eye on.
Be careful of how they affect your experiment.
For instance, products can pollute the water system and must be stored in a waste container.
Plan your experiment well in advance to minimize the possibility of errors.
Record and report all measured values. Report all significant figures. For example, 5.0 or 5.1 instead of 5.
Multiple trials must be conducted to ensure sufficient relevant data for complete analysis.
This is where you show how you have processed the data to draw conclusions from your hypothesis.
It can be represented in the following formats:
- Data tables: suitable titles must be provided for each of them. All columns and rows should be labelled.
- Data Presentation: Ample use of diagrammatic representation of data through tables, graphs, pie charts etc., should be employed.
- Qualitative data: Positively mention qualitative data. For instance, the bubbling of gases or change of colour.
Conclusion and Analysis
The conclusion is a rephrasing of the research question, along with the mention of the data processed. Ascertain the correlation between the hypothesis and the findings of your experiment. Explain the results as clearly as possible.
Correlate the arguments to concepts of Chemistry covered in the course taught at school. You may even go beyond the course to substantiate your thesis with a more complex concept.
Finally, your conclusion must also refer to the graph presented.
Every lab has a minimum of 4 sources of errors that could skew the data collected and cause ambiguity. So each of them must be mentioned and explained how they were controlled. Suggestions for improvements may also be presented.
Explain the limitations of the variables used, the reliability of the data presented and the certainty of the conclusion derived in clear words.
Also, maintain the balance between the strengths and weaknesses of the experiment. Attempt to name an equal number of strengths and weaknesses to create a balanced opinion.
Here you're supposed to mention any novel factor or variable that may be referred to for further investigation.
Academic honesty is a virtue that IB values in high regard. An exhaustive bibliography list, citations and references must be recorded. Remember to use MLA format and keep the bibliography in alphabetic order.
7 Pro Tips To Write A Top-Notch IB Chemistry IA
Please read this thoroughly before you sit down to write your Chemistry IA:
- Unique Research question
- There are 2 points for personal engagement. The research question must resonate with you personally.
- However, it is essential to note that the research question can be a more complex idea. Still, the approach to the research should be fresh and original with a personal perspective.
- Choose a research topic that allows for a ‘hypothesis’ where the outcome is not 100 % obvious, leaving some room for analysis and interpretation.
- Well-defined variables
- Although it sounds obvious, it is surprising how many students overlook this. The variables must be clearly thought through along with the research question. Ideally, the variables must be enlisted with the research question itself. Refer to the previous segment of this guide, where we discuss variables in depth.
- Detailed Methodology
- One must be as straightforward as possible in their method and the material section. For instance, do more than just mention 5 beakers. Instead, write 5 glass beakers of 5 ml each, eliminating the uncertainty of the equipment used.
- Different alternatives can also be noted when developing the methodology.
- Thorough analysis
- It forms the backbone of the experiment. A well-done investigation is NEVER complete without sources of systematic errors.
- Mention each source of error with a suggestion for improvements.
- Linking the research question to the wider world is imperative. This could either be discussed in the introduction or the conclusion.
- What should not be neglected is the application of the research topic in real life or industries, providing a ‘bigger picture perspective which the IB appreciates.
- A fair evaluation of the experimental limitations. Self-evaluation of the constraints and how they can further be improved.
- Don’t be disheartened if you DO NOT have much to say in your evaluation. This is not a bad thing. You don’t get marked down in your IA if your experiment doesn’t work. You are marked down if you do not analyze properly.
Having familiarized ourselves with the knowledge required to write an excellent Chemistry IA, let us now look at a few fascinating topics for an IA.
23 IB Chemistry IA Ideas To Get You Started
- How does the heating of everyday acidic food items such as lemon juice affect the concentration of ascorbic acid in it?
- Measurement of the pH differences between two acidic samples.
- Catalase test to differentiate between Clostridium strains and Bacillus species.
- Use Complexometric titration with Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) to compare the hardness of various water samples, possibly regular tap water, purified water or water from a nearby pond.
- Creating an electrolytic cell to measure the impact on the steel corrosion rate due to temperature changes.
- Using a water calorimeter experiment to check the impact on Gasoline's combustion enthalpy after adding ethanol.
- Measuring the impact of heating on dissolved oxygen concentration in water. Suitability of various lipid samples for making soaps
- Measurement of the Biological Oxygen Demand of water samples.
- Ascertaining the molecular formula of salt samples using thermal decomposition
- Using acid-base titration to ascertain the efficacy of indigestion tablets
- Synthesizing everyday medicines like paracetamol or aspirin
- Analyses of different soil samples to determine nutrients like phosphorous, nitrogen etc.
- Investigating the change in the reaction rate with a difference in the surface area.
- Ascertaining the iron content in Iron supplements using redox titration.
- Determining the enthalpy of neutralization of various acids and alkalis using calorimetry.
- Effect on the enthalpy of different salts using Hess' Law
- Understanding the importance of concentration of metals on electrode potentials
- Measuring the percentage of unsaturated fats in different oil samples using iodine numbers
- Comparison of lab-created esters from acids and alcohol with commercial perfumes
- Investigating different factors affecting electroplating
- Measurement of the concentration of zinc in dietary supplements
- Studying the vitamin content in different food items
- Measuring the changes of select nutrients (such as iron, Vitamin C, etc.) during fruit ripening stages.
Let's Wrap It Up!
Make sure that you begin writing your Chemistry IA well in advance to avoid any last-minute jitters or a hastily compiled report that would surely break your chances of excellent grades!
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