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Internal Assessments, They Matter

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

The Internal Assessment deadline is quickly approaching and the pressure is on for students to submit their best work as a component of the overall IB score. During the peak of assessment season, students oftentimes cannot comprehend the importance that their IA has in the larger picture. They get weighed down with the intricacies and challenges that each course may present and only look toward the end goal, external assessments. However, IAs have comparable importance in determining the final scores that are documented on an IB transcript. Let’s take English A: Literature HL as an example. The external assessment including paper 1, 2 and the written assignment amounts to 70% of the final grade while the internal oral commentary, interview and presentation makes up the other 30%. This is a significant portion of the final grade and as such, when students receive guidance from all their supporters within the program—teachers, coordinators, parents, peers and counselors, they are empowered with the tools to succeed holistically.

From an assessment analysis perspective, John Kane, the Assessment Coach at George Marshall High School further emphasizes IA importance. He notes that schools control the assessments and students are given guidance that closely mirrors examiner rubrics. This drastically reduces the element of surprise thereby reducing score anxiety. Moreover, it is statistically a very good predictor of student exam performance and usually gets scaled less meaning student’s keep more of their points– making it more valuable. If you are interested in learning more and about the work John does around this, feel free to reach out to him at

Logically, teachers and coordinators have been the primary supports during the IA process. They are vested in making sure deadlines are met, ensuring students understand the structure of their projects and reinforcing the knowledge base that will prepare them to speak and write articulately on their chosen topic. However, the role of a counselor is one that often may go unnoticed, but can make substantial impacts on students’ overall outcomes during/after the IAs. I spoke with College and University Advisor Christine Eischen at Lycée Français de Chicago and University Counselor Pam Joos at the Washington International School and together, we came up with 3 ways counselors can support students during this process.

1. Create fun and relaxing opportunities if possible
Scheduling time for movie events, community service group initiatives, and other de-stressing activities that students can participate in goes a long way. It is important to create a “family” spirit that fosters peer support and celebration!

 Movie Night

2.Plan internal assessment summary workshops
After IAs are submitted, it is important for students to use their project as a building block for university preparation. Counselors can help students devise a ‘one-page template’ that can be showcased in on the go interviews or university visits. For this, collaboration between teachers and counselors is crucial as teachers can provide support in what information would be necessary to include and counselors can discuss how students can market it to universities.

3. Encourage students to personalize their IA
By this time, many students should be finished the majority of their assessments. But there may still be an opportunity to encourage them to become a part of the inquiry itself and convey enthusiasm about the project. This will help not only the examiner see their passion about the topic but in the bigger picture, show universities that the assessment can align to a future major or course of study.



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