Many of us can agree that History makes for a fascinating subject. It takes you into the past and lets you learn about pivotal events and people who were instrumental in shaping our present.

However, what happens when you are asked to single-handedly perform a “historical investigation” on a topic of your choice?

Getting jittery? Don’t worry - we got you covered.

IB’s History Internal Assessment (IA) is a critical and compulsory assignment that requires SL and HL students to choose a historical topic and conduct a thorough critical analysis of it. The purpose of this assessment is to encourage students to explore a novel historical topic and put their skills and knowledge into practical use.

Everything You Need to Score High Writing History IA

Your History IA is one of those assessments you cannot afford to take lightly because it comprises of 25% of your overall grade. A slip-up here will make all your efforts go waste. Students are expected to stick to the 2,200-word limit and devote 20 hours to this assignment.

How to Choose the Perfect Topic for IB History IA?

An excellent History IA paper starts with a vital topic.

Here’s how to ensure you choose the appropriate topic for this research assignment.

Explore Interests and Relevancy

The fact that you need to spend 20 hours on this assignment and do a thorough job at it is less intimidating when you are dealing with a topic that genuinely interests you. When you do that, it will no longer be looked upon as a tick-box exercise because you will be able to immerse yourself in the whole process and fetch a better output.

So, think of all the historical events that intrigue you - here’s your chance to dive deep into either of them and explore them entirely.

Apart from choosing a topic of interest, you can also choose historical events relevant to your country of origin or current area of residence. This will not only let you get better avenues to conduct research by visiting landmarks or historical sites in the locality, but it will also help you relate to it better.

Pick a Focussed Research Question

Choosing a narrow and specific research question cannot be emphasized enough. Anything broad, vague, and open-ended is an absolute no-no because it is impossible to conduct a focussed investigation on it.

So, consider aspects such as time frame, location, date, etc., and narrow it down as much as possible.

At the same time, avoid exploring obvious questions because your instructor would already know the answer before reading your paper, giving no scope for you to express your unique views.

Want to know more about developing a question for historical investigation?

Keep it Interesting and Original

You may think you can pick out a topic from your History syllabus and base your IA on it, but that’s not advisable because there is nothing new you will be bringing to the table.

Even if you wish to choose a topic from your existing syllabus, make sure you adopt a different angle to demonstrate independent and original thinking.

Scope for Investigation

Remember - you are expected to do an investigation as part of your History IA. What does that mean? You need to critically analyze the research question, evaluate two sources, and present evidence to support your argument.

Hence, ensure the topic you choose gives you ample scope for investigation and interpretation to meet the grading criteria accurately. Moreover, the paper needs to be limited to 2,200 words, so opt for a topic/research question that can be explored within the given word limit.

Seek Guidance from your Instructor

The IB guidelines clearly state that teachers need to support and guide students through completing their IA - something many students are unaware of.

Once you finalize the topic, you must consult your teacher and ask for feedback. They might be able to offer you a perspective that you would have missed looking into.

Teachers can also offer advice on one draft of their IA paper. So, don’t rush into submitting the final version. Take your teacher through your first draft and understand how you can strengthen it.

Your teachers are meant to offer you guidance at every step - how much you use that to your advantage is up to you.

6 Tips to Successfully Write your History IA

Now that you have zeroed down on a topic, it’s time to get working on the assignment. You need to have a concrete plan in place before writing the IA paper.

Considering the overload of information you will be exposed to, it’s a good idea to break down the research, writing, and editing process and allocate enough time to each of the stages.

Worried you will lose your mind? Don’t be.

Here are six tips to help you ace your History IA paper.

Gather Enough Evidence

There’s nothing worse than realizing you have not done enough research in the midst of writing the paper. To avoid such a scenario and undue wastage of time, ensure you refer to a wide range of primary and secondary sources to gather evidence to support your arguments.

Don’t make the mistake of relying on Wikipedia - it is not a trusted source of information. Instead, try to browse through encyclopedias, online resources, diaries, academic reports, journals, newspaper articles, magazines, biographies, documentaries, and even interviews.

Make sure you highlight every piece of reference that you plan to include in the paper along with the source - this makes citing references a lot smoother.

Well-defined Sections

A well-structured and professionally written History IA paper is bound to get you good scores. Divide your paper into the following three sections.

Identification and evaluation of sources (500 words):

In this section, you need to state the topic of investigation as a research question and enlist the sources you will be referring to along with their relevance. Make sure you evaluate two sources in detail while highlighting their purpose, origin, value, and limitations.

Investigation (1300 words):

This is where you will have to write a transparent investigation of the question. Start with giving context on the historical issue or event and then state your inference supported by solid arguments and evidence collected from the research undertaken.

Reflection (400 words):

This final section needs you to reflect on the revelation your exploration highlighted, the methods employed, and the challenges you faced in the process.

It is advisable to name the sections as stated above, so your instructor can quickly locate them and mark you accordingly.

The paper needs to end with a bibliography containing accurate references to all the sources included in your paper.

Cater to the Assessment Criteria

The best part about writing IA papers is that students have full access to the assessment criteria. So, you must keep it by your side and use it as a checklist to ensure you meet the highest scores in every criterion.

You will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Identification and evaluation of sources (6 marks)
  • Investigation (15 marks)
  • Reflection (4 marks)

The least you can do is write and edit your paper to adhere to the top-scoring band in the assessment criteria. That way, you know you have delivered your best and tailor-made your assignment to suit the highest level of requirements.

Acknowledge Limitations of Sources

Every source you come across won’t be perfect. There are bound to be limitations and shortcomings. A well-rounded research paper is one that acknowledges those limitations.

Acknowledging them shows your attention to detail and projects you to be aware of your paper’s weaknesses.

In fact, the criteria, ‘Identification and evaluation of sources’ clearly gives high scores to papers that demonstrate “a detailed analysis and evaluation of two sources with explicit discussion of the value and limitations of two of the sources for the investigation, with reference to the origins, purpose, and content of the two sources.”

So, instead of hiding behind the garb of a “perfect” paper, you instead mention the limitations of the sources used.

Write with Clarity

You can do the best of research and analysis, but nothing matters if you are unable to use the right words to articulate yourself well. After all, it all boils down to how you choose to write your paper.

From stating the research question to writing the paper and bibliography - it is essential to deliver a clearly written and organized IA paper that meets the word count and guidelines.

In order to write with clarity, you need to know what you want to say. It is all about making your paper comprehensible, staying away from pretentious language, and letting the reader derive value from your writing.

Here’s a useful video on how to write clearly and concisely

Avoid Last-Minute Writing

One of the biggest mistakes students make is procrastinating and putting off their History IA paper till the very last minute. Doing this will have an adverse effect on your final grade because there is no way you can condense all the comprehensive research, writing, and editing work into a couple of days and still manage to do justice to it.

Yes, there will be instances when you will be burdened with too many tasks or might find yourself getting stuck while writing your History IA paper. At such times, instead of doing a haphazard job at it and compromising on your grades, you should consider reaching out to IA paper writing experts like Writers Per Hour.

Our IB-qualified writers are equipped to deliver high-quality IA papers and can turn them around to meet your urgent deadlines.

11 Interesting History Internal Assessment Topic Ideas for your Inspiration

1. The causes for the origins and rise of Islam in the period between c. 500 and c. 661

2. The relationship between society and the economy in the 18th century

3. Religion had a close connection with the state in the 18th century

4. Intellectual, cultural, and artistic developments in the 17th century

5. Peacemaking and peacekeeping gel with international relations

6. The causes of the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1945–79

7. The reason behind communism in crisis in the period between 1976 and 1989

8. An in-depth contextualization of the causes, practices, and effects of wars

9. Origins and development of authoritarian and single-party states

10. Nationalist and independence movements in Africa and Asia and post-1945 Central and Eastern European states

11. In-depth analysis: the beginning and end of the Cold War


Whether you are someone who enjoys History or is aversed by it, if you take a serious interest in writing your History IA, you are sure to emerge loving the subject because it encourages you to push the boundaries, think beyond theoretical knowledge acquired in your classes and apply critical thinking skills to investigate a historical event. So, enjoy this assignment and follow this guide to the T to score the best grades.

Last edit at Dec 24 2022

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Written by

Adela Belin

Adela Belin is a content writing & marketing expert at Writers Per Hour. She writes about motivation, education, personal development, and everything in between. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing relevant stories inspired by her journey. As a seasoned expert, Belin is a frequent contributor to Lifehack, AllBusiness, and LiveChatINC and runs her blog.
View all my posts
Enjoy reading? Write for our blog
Adela Belin photo

Written by

Adela Belin

Adela Belin is a content writing & marketing expert at Writers Per Hour. She writes about motivation, education, personal development, and everything in between. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing relevant stories inspired by her journey. As a seasoned expert, Belin is a frequent contributor to Lifehack, AllBusiness, and LiveChatINC and runs her blog.
View all my posts
Enjoy reading? Write for our blog