IB Physics IA: 3 Important Tips For A Good Grade

These 3 Tips Will Help You Score A Good Grade On Your IB Physics IA. You Will Also Find Ideas For Writing A Better IA

13 OCT 2021
ib physics ia

Physics IA is one of those daunting things of IB which requires extreme diligence. There is a lot of effort needed to finish this IA, and messing it up is not an option. 

In this article, we have broken down the contents for your physics IA. Moreover, this guide has a sample IA attached which received a grade of 7!

Contents of this blog:

  1. Coming up with a topic for your Physics IA 

  2. Few Ideas

  3. Having the Right Inspiration


Also, check out this reading of a level 7 Physics IA!


Coming up with a topic for your Physics IA

This is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks. For you to score well on your Physics IA, it is recommended that you choose a topic which allows you to gather a lot of primary data and also have a scope for finding secondary data to either prove or disprove your hypothesis. 


Collecting primary data can be best achieved by setting up an experiment. There are specific topics in Physics for which you can easily design and execute an experiment. However, specific topics like Quantum and Nuclear Physics will require you to use simulation software. While there is much software available to predict the outcome of your experiment, one can achieve better results by conducting tangible experiments.


Experiment based topics v/s simulation-based topics



Few IdeasWhile it seems like the above table highlights that simulation-based experiment is a ‘safer’ way with less scope of error and better data, you need to keep in mind that your IA has a special section dedicated for ‘Errors and Uncertainties’. The primary motive behind making you write a Physics IA is to indulge you in scientific thinking by making you utilise the concepts that you have learnt. Treat your IA as the documentation of your scientific exploration. Therefore you should choose a topic which is not entirely new and leaves a room for you to make mistakes.


To get your thinking juices churning, here are a few IA ideas that you can use to design your experiment:

1. Analysing the rate of change of vaporisation if water depending on the surface area

  • Arranging the setup for this experiment will be rather easy. All you will have to do is get some water, find a source to heat it and note down the time for its vaporisation. 
  • This experiment will have you apply concepts of Thermal Physics (Topic 3) 

2. Finding g by looking at the energy of a falling ball

  • This is perhaps the most straight forward one. Have a ball thrown from different heights and use a slow-motion camera to calculate it’s instantaneous speed near the ground. 
  • You can deduce the speed by calculating how much time it took for the ball to reach a particular point. Then when the ball bounces, calculate the loss of its speed similarly. Once you have that, you can plug in the values into the equation of Kinectic Energy to get your data for investigation]
  • Although the setup might be a little complicated, it will pay off in the long run when you plot your Energy- Height Graph whose gradient would be mg.
  • The concepts used in this experiment will be that of Mechanics and Energy (Topic 2)


3. Investigating the harmonic series based on a various string instrument

  • This is perhaps one of my favourite topics mostly because it used the theoretical concepts of Waves (Topic 4). Topic 4 offers a plethora of themes which can be used as a foundation for your experiment. 
  • Moreover, this topic could be related to any everyday life event as most of the things we do in our daily lives emit some frequency or is done in oscillations. The sample Grade 7 IA also keeps Waves as its core. 
  • The sample IA analyses the damping effect and draws the correlation between damping of a tall structure and its load distribution. 
  • One of the main reasons this IA got a grade of 7 is because it is inspired by a real-life situation. In other words, this IA claims ‘earthquakes’ to be its main inspiration and tries to suggest an improved architecture for tall buildings to minimise the damaged caused to them during the natural calamity. 

Having The Right Inspiration


IB strives to make its students more aware and sensitive to world issues. Therefore, having a relevant world problem as an inspiration for your IA increases your chance of getting a higher grade. Having said that, it is not always easy to find an issue and set up an experiment around it. A trick to overcome this problem is to reverse engineer the entire thing! Think of the topic which interests you the most and find world issues related to it. For example, if you want to write your IA about thermal physics, then perhaps you can explore the concept of Specific Heat Capacity. For instance, you can state your inspiration to be global warming which is melting the glaciers, and you are trying to increase the specific heat capacity of the poles by spraying some kind of a chemical on it which prevents them from melting. 


Although the example mentioned above is a little vague, I hope you get the basic idea for your IA. The inspiration part is just the starting paragraph of your IA and comes in the introduction part. 


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Before you go, check out these topics which you can use to write your Physics IA.

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