IB Economics IA Guide (Updated 2021)

Understanding IB Economics commentary and practical tips to writing an eloquent IA which will fetch you great results.

Zoé Harper
13 OCT 2021
ib economics ia guide



What’s with these economics  IA’s / Commentaries when I am already struggling with my EE and TOK


Now, do I have to manage an economics internal assessment (IA) with three commentaries to graduate?


3 extra commentaries to pass my IB life? 


Oh my god, how am I going to survive the IB?!"


I am sure that these were the thoughts rambling in your head when you had your first Economics IA orientation at school. In all honestly, Economies IA may come out a little intimidating but once you decipher them, they are one of the most interesting commentaries that you will write in your life. Hereafter, you will read about:


1) The Basics of Economics IA

2) Steps to acing your Economics IA

3) Important Take-Aways From This IB Economics Internal Assessment Guide


This blog acts as an IB Economics Internal Assessment Guide which will help you rank up your performance in IB Economics. Before you start reading this article to write better economics IA, check out this video showing you how to write an economics IA in 2 hours!



The Basics of Economics IA


  • 20% of your overall IB Economics grade depends on your Economics IA. You are going to submit three Economics commentaries by the end of your IB diploma/certificate. Your IB Economics commentaries should be based on all 3 parts of your economics coursework, i.e. Micro, Macro or International Trade. A dedicated commentary needs to be written for each part. This means that you should not start your Microeconomic commentary and take a detour to International Trade.

  • The word count for your IB Economics commentary is 750 words, which excludes factors such as diagrams, citations, contents page, acknowledgements and other calculations including formulas. You will have to focus more on developing content and analysing your chosen article. An effective commentary should have 2+ sketched diagrams as they tend to highlight your analysis better, and they don't even eat your word count. I will elaborate on the importance of diagrams later on in this blog!


  • Make the most out of your teacher’s comments. They are only allowed to help you once! So, when you are submitting your first draft, please make sure that you have followed all the guidelines specified by the IB. Moreover, sample IB Economics IAs can help you fine-tune your analysis. You can access an ample amount of IB Economics sample IAs by clicking here


  • Do note that our Economics commentary is going to be marked by your teacher at school. Later, a few sample Economics Internal Assessments (IA) are randomly selected by the IB and are sent for external moderation. 


Steps to acing your Economics IA

Now that you know what your Economics IA is all about and how it is evaluated by the IB, you are ready to start with your Economics IA commentary. Follow the steps below in order to ace your IB Economics Internal Assessment.


Step #1 :

Choosing the right article:

Finding the news article for your commentary is the first most important step. Your analysis is directly influenced by the article that you select. Websites like Google News can help you find an article that suits your interests (like duh!). It is considered best practice to keep reading the newspaper right from the beginning of your course. This will help you distinguish an appropriate article when its time to write you commentary. The news you select should concern that economical factor for which you are writing the IA. 

Try and make sure that the article that you decide to analyse should not be more than 1 A4 size page (~500 words). The research article must be recent (aim for the current year) and published by a mainstream publisher (eg The Sydney Morning Herald). Make sure to maintain your bibliography right from the beginning.


Step #2 :


Start by defining a few important keywords from your article. Do not waste your words with an irrelevant introduction. Note that you only need to define the important key terms and not all the terms. The examiners are not looking for the definitions; they already have an adequate amount of knowledge in the field of economics. When you take the definitions from any sources, including textbooks, do not forget to credit the sources.  Also, avoid using direct quotes from the article in your commentary. You should limit the number of words in your introduction to only 150 and save the rest of your word count for analysing and evaluating.


Start off by explaining the case of your article and what is going to be analysed in the essay.  Make sure you talk in economic terms. This will surely help you as terminology is a part of your criteria. Your job is to show analytical thinking when it comes to economics. For example, if you are writing your microeconomics commentary and your news is about government banning alcohol, you should be able to deduce it's economical impact. For instance, your commentary should mention how banning alcohol might create an unregulated black market, spiking up the price. It is best if your assumptions are backed up evidence. In this particular example, you can talk about a similar scenario in Pakistan. You can also talk about an alternative to what the government has done in order for it to achieve its objective. In our example, it seems like the government is trying to reduce the consumption of alcohol, so instead of banning it completely, they should like to tax it more.

Step #3:

Drawing and Explaining the Diagrams:

As I have mentioned before. “Diagrams highlight better”. Also, they don't count in the word count either!                                    

Draw diagrams to explain the problem in the article and to explain the solution as well. These diagrams must be your own drawings. Also, relevance is the most important thing to keep in your mind when drawing the diagrams. Why would something irrelevant fetch you marks?

 Examples of relevant diagrams include the following:

  • explaining the effects on the stakeholders; 

  • stating the relationship between the economic factors and the products;

  • discussing the shifts in the curves. 


And of course, explaining your diagrams is the major task here. It does not matter if it’s a simple diagram, but your explanation makes it different. You should also be able to label all the lines accurately in your diagrams. The diagram attached below is a good example for a well-labelled diagram. The x-axis and y-axis in the diagram below are labelled accurately. 


However, to draw the diagrams for your commentary, there are tools available, including Microsoft Word and Google docs. You can even include hand diagrams on paper though they are not recommended. If you are in doubt to draw the diagram, you can always consult your teacher for help in using the software.


Step #4:

Developing the content:

You will have to brainstorm some ideas before you start writing your commentary. Your analysis on the article will have to explain a few factors, including:

  • The impacts on the stakeholders of the policies stated in the article;

  • Suggesting alternative solutions;


Remember you are not trying to just rephrase and write another article. Do not rephrase the sentences from your article. An analysis is only about developing the ideas that relate to your topic. Now it's time to go deeper into your topic and explain with clearer constructs. For deeper construction, you can make assumptions from your theory. Basically, you are going to be fully explaining the theory and how the theory is related to your article or also the linkages between the theory and its aspects. 


Step #5:

Drawing the conclusion:

Coming to a conclusion is based on the assumptions you made throughout your essay. It is all about evaluating and theorizing the outcomes that could happen. You should be making judgements in your conclusion based on some reasoning and the assumptions you make. To make judgments and draw conclusions, you should fulfil the following aspects to fetch yourself some good grades:


  • Effects in the long term and short term;

  • Stakeholders;

  • Advantages and Disadvantages;

  • Alternative solutions;

 Check out this link so that you can go through the example of commentary with a good evaluation of their scenario.


Note: When you follow these steps, I have explained so far, you are almost done! You just have to make sure if you met all the requirements by looking into the criteria. Though we just went through every possible thing required, for a better idea, you can go through the criteria below to evaluate your own work:

Important Take-Aways From This IB Economics Internal Assessment Guide

Make sure to come back to this IB Economics Internal Assessment Guide as often as you can to make sure you don't miss out on these easy points. Here is a list of the main take-aways from this IB Economics Internal Assessment Guide:

  • Keep a track of important news article
  • Start early with your research
  • Develop analytical thinking and hone it in economics class
  • Question the economic significance of major world events

The one intangible point missing from this IB Economics Internal Assessment guide is that you need to have the right mindset to score well in IB Economics Internal Assessments. Put yourself in the shoes of renowned economists. You want to make terms like externalities, quota, trade barriers, foreign investment, etc, a part of your daily vocabulary. Don't shy away from joining various social groups where people chat about these topics. Not only will it help you more than reading various IB Economics Internal Assessments online but it will better prepare your finals. Listening to other people's ideas also enriches your intellect.


For extra help and resources, you can go through some of the examples of Economics IA or commentaries from each section (micro, macro or international) by clicking here

Or you can always buy the best IB economics resources from the nailib.com for the best help an IB student would require. 


If you are still struggling heaps with your Economics, feel free to subscribe to our study bundles and get access to more than 500+ IBDP notes and past papers here.

Nail IB is your virtual companion that helps you hustle through your diploma and provide you with the right resources at the right time. To know more about acing IB, click here.

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