Last month’s blog post gave you an overview of what the IA is all about. This month I will start explaining to you what the different criteria are and how they are assessed.

If you recall there are five assessment criteria:

  • Personal Engagement(PE)
  • Exploration (EX)
  • Analysis (AN)
  • Evaluation (EV)
  • Communication (CM)

Let us start the first criterion, exploration.

Exploration is only marked out of two. It is possibly the hardest criterion for the moderator to assess but the easiest criterion for your teacher to assess. Personal engagement is all about you making your IA yours. When you’re planning your IA aim to make it ‘different’. What can you add to your IA that makes it stand out from the crowd? Can you show some original thought and plenty of initiative.

For example, let’s say you decide to look at the effect of acid rain on marble statues (I have chosen this deliberately – it’s not a great idea for an IA). How could you make this IA different? Well, instead of choosing different concentrations of hydrochloric acid and dropping calcium carbonate chips into it, why don’t you make some acid rain by producing carbon dioxide ( for example by reacting hydrochloric acid in copper carbonate) and bubbling the carbon dioxide produced into distilled water to form carbonic acid. You could do this for varying amounts of time to produce different concentrations of carbonic acid. You could use a pH probe to measure the pH of the solutions you have produced. Finally, you could spray samples of calcium carbonate with the carbonic acid solutions you have produced to model acid rain.

Can you see how it is possible to take a simple, standard lab and personalize it or make it your own? By doing this you will demonstrate good personal engagement and hopefully gain full marks in this criterion.


Do you have any examples of good personal engagement that you are able to share with us? Are you able to give us any examples of ‘standard’ labs that you have personalised to demonstrate good personal engagement? If you do please share them below as we would love to hear about them.