Apply Now

What is IA, EE, or TOK? Everything you need to know about IB written assignments.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program requires students to complete a number of written assignments, and it can be confusing when students are attempting to grasp what these mean and what they entail.

As an IB student, it is critical to understand what these terms mean and how they apply to written assignments.


In IBDP, there are two types of assessment: internal and external. The Extended Essay (EE), as well as the Theory of Knowledge (ToK), are both external assessments. This is because, like final exams, they are submitted directly to IB examiners. The teacher evaluates the students' work.

2. The Extended Essay (or EE)

Since the Extended Essay has deadlines throughout the 12th and 13th grades, students in the 12th and 13th grades will already have developed their research questions by year's end. The 4000-word piece of independent research is presented as a lengthy paper that summarizes the findings. EE encourages students to use and develop their own critical thinking.

Essays allow students to investigate topics of their choice in depth and independently, and they provide an opportunity for meaningful connections to be made with topics of their choice. Students are increasingly choosing to write a World Studies essay as the courses link between the various IB courses and as it gives them the opportunity to learn about issues such as global food shortages, climate change, terrorism, energy security, migration, global health, technology, and cultural exchange.

EE assessments are largely based on 5 criteria: focus and method, knowledge and understanding, critical thinking, presentation and engagement.

3. The Theory of Knowledge essay (or ToK)

Every student is required to write a ToK essay as part of the IBDP. As a result, students are asked to think critically about how we know what we claim to know, and how we know what we believe. In addition to the 1600-word essay, an oral presentation is required for assessment of the ToK essay.

Though the essay requires students to focus on the concept itself, the presentation evaluates their application of the Theory of Knowledge to actual life situations. Additionally, the essay seeks to extend beyond the subjects taught at school and to link them.

4. Internal Assessments (or IA)

For most courses in IBDP, students will also complete an internal assessment. Common to Standard Level and Higher Level courses, the purpose of this type of paper is to check that students can demonstrate the internal assessment criteria in relation to the course objectives.

Teacher assessments are also used for most courses, such as geography, languages, biology, physics and mathematics.

IAs include:

  • Individual Oral Presentation (IOP)
  • Individual Oral Commentary (IOC)
  • Further Oral Activity (FOA) for IB English Language and Literature students
  • the Works in Translation (WIT) essay.

During the course, the subject teacher will mark the students' internal assessments and the IB will moderate the external assessments for the diploma.

Criteria for IA’s

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Application and analysis
  • Synthesis and evaluation
  • Selection, usage and application of different skills and techniques.

Planning and Organizing

All IB students must take all written examinations seriously, so organization is crucial when it comes to completing scholarly writing assignments. IB students often struggle to complete their written assignments at the last minute, an issue which could have been avoided by being better prepared and organized.

Setting personal goals and deadlines is important for students. Besides helping them plan, it also shows commitment to their IB assignments, especially when one does not want to fall behind, especially when there are several other classes and assignments during both of the IB years. Students need to make sure they keep pace with deadlines of IB assignments in chronological order to avoid unnecessary stress.

The ability to think critically

Students' papers are more credible if they demonstrate critical thinking. As a result, they will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the topic at hand. Critical thinking shows the ability to form judgement in people who are continually improving their thinking. As a culminating goal of all academic writing, it is to provide students with skills which are essential for their future studies.

Academic integrity

In inquiry-based learning, academic honesty is an essential element of teaching and learning. Throughout IBDP, it plays a significant role in the written exams. In cases where students have specific questions about referencing their sources, they should visit libraries, both public and school libraries.

Global IB Students

Students who are not native English speakers but want their assignments to be written in this language sometimes have difficulty in finding the correct sentence structure and pronunciation.

If the students' language teachers are available, they may ask for assistance while revising and before submitting assignments. Arranging for an appointment with the learning support department within the school, where professionals can provide support is crucial. Finding relevant information from the library resources helps the student with writing assignments.

Use of Mentors

During the IB Extended Essay, all students have a mentor assigned to them, and it is vital that they communicate frequently with them throughout the entire research and writing process and until their assignment is submitted. Students can seek advice from mentors for any type of feedback they need, and it is important that they utilize this service.


IB students need to spend extensive time at the library.

Teachers as well as librarians have a common goal of helping students achieve academic success. Teachers and librarians work together to ensure that students can communicate effectively, determine the quality of web sources, and differentiate between these sources. The role of librarians is vital.

Research Sources

Most research online for assignments is done on Google by the students. However, it is highly recommended that they use other criteria tools such as The CRAP Test (currency, reliability, authority, and purpose) that will determine if a website can be trusted, saving time and allowing them to find high quality and credible online resources.

Latest Blogs

A guide to scoring well in the IGCSE

Read More

How does IBDP at Knowledgeum Academy differ from others?

Read More

IB Subject Choices for Business Management

Read More

How do I cope with IB exam stress & anxiety about failing?

Read More

Overcoming Procrastination: How to Stop Putting off Your Assignments and Get Them Done?

Read More

logo logo logo