Tips to Smash IB Economics

1. How do I opt for my topic?

We’re expected to write 3 separate commentaries based on three areas of the syllabus: one in microeconomics, one in macroeconomics, and one in either international trade or development economics.

The key topics tend to be those that have a clear economic theory, but have scope for relevant and intricate evaluation. Taxes and subsidies, for example, are appropriate topics for discussion as they both have clear diagrams in the syllabus and are also closely related to externalities and elasticity. It is not required to make the thing too difficult for yourself – you won’t get bonus points for writing about an obscure economic theory. The following is lists of subjects we think give you the basis for an interesting assignment:

Microeconomics Syllabus content:

  • Taxes, Subsidies
  • Price Controls
  • Externalities
  • Monopoly Power


  • Tariffs, Subsidies
  • Quotas
  • Exchange Rates
  • Macroeconomic Topics:
  • Interest Rates
  • Fiscal Policy
  • Unemployment


  • Trade Strategies
  • Market-Based Strategies
  • Interventionist Strategies

2. How do I select my article?

Too many candidates limit their chances at nailing their IA by choosing a bad article. Here are three pointers to avoid that mistake:

Ensure that the article comes from a reputable news source. Be attentive to economics-centric sources. Since these kinds of sources generally already contain economic examination, there isn’t much possibility for you to traverse new ideas, limiting your potential for a high score.

When you google search ‘name of topic, name of well thought of news source’ (cigarette tax, CNN) to find your perfect article, make sure to use google tools to set the publishing date to be in the last year. You can’t reuse an article that was published more than a year ago!

Go for an article that explores the burden (or proposed burden) of a policy. Writing an IA based on an article that outlines ‘Country X is set to raise fiscal expenditure as it is facing a recession’ is much easier than with another article that simply says ‘Country Y is facing a recession’. The ability to analyze and evaluate the potential consequences of a policy that could be implemented to avert a recession, as opposed to simply commenting on the demerits of facing one, leads to both more interesting content but also more marks!

If you can find an article published in the last year from a reputable news source, which mentions the imposition of a specific policy without going into excessive economic analysis, you’re on the right track to smash that IA!

Here are some examples of great articles for your IA! (Sugar tax) (Fiscal Stimulus)

3. How to organize my IA?

On top of making sure the content of your IA is the most significant, arranging it properly can make a huge impact upon your final mark. Most impactful scoring Economics IA can be divided into 5 sections:

Introduction (not more than 75 words) – outlines and briefs the article in 2 or 3 brief sentences. In this introduction, define a few key terms that will be used going forward through the essay. Ensure that this doesn’t end up becoming a list of definitions! Only define a key term if it needs to be, and if you’ve already used it in a sentence.

What was the fundamental problem? (not more than 100 words) –for example, the government is considering imposing a soda tax. In this case, the basic problem may be the market failure caused by sweet drinks. You may want to draw a diagram and give a clear explanation on how sugary drinks result in market failure through negative factors, and how that may be a damaging to society.

What is the proposed policy (and what is its deliberate effect)? (200-250 words) – The size of your analysis will fall under this section. This is where you explain and show how, for example, an excise soda tax is intended to shift the supply curve in order to curb consumption/production of that demerit well and thus reduce the market failure.

What are some unintended effects of the policy? (250-300 words) – This is where your evaluation comes in. Don’t underrate the significance of deep evaluation for your IA. Tip #5 in this article does a keen analysis into all the necessary points of the perfect evaluation

Conclusion (75 words) – concludes your key notions in 2-3 sentences. Remind of the reason behind the policy application, the deliberate affect of the policy, and brief your evaluation of the situation. Don’t bring up any new thoughts/ideas in this section as you won’t be able to thoroughly explain them!

4. Diagrams do matter?

We all know diagrams are at the centre of IB Economics. For the IA too, this is similar. When we draw diagrams, we need them to be sizeable, labeled, clear and correct. Beyond this, however, we also need to make sure that our diagrams aren’t left ‘hanging’. What do we mean by that? Even if your diagrams are clean and accurate, if you don’t explain them, it is useless to draw it as it shows you did not understand the theory behind it! The question paper pattern clearly states that all diagrams need ‘a full explanation’. Do not do incomplete work by failing to connect your analysis to your academic artwork!

Key Tip: To boost your score even more, see if you can add some figures from your article into your diagrams.

5. What do I include in my evaluation?

If you take a take a look at the IA rubric, you’ll see that the evaluation section is weighted the highest! It’s all well and good explaining the economic theory that an article refers to, but unless we can examine that material in light of the information found within it we’re limiting our score.

But what does evaluation actually mean? And how can we do it effectively?

The acronym CLASPP is your guide to evaluation ideas:

Conclusion (see above in tip #3)

Long-Term vs. Short-Term – will the effect of the policy change over time?

Assumptions – what does economic theory suggest that is undermined or neglected by the content of the article? How does this affect the proposal?

Stakeholders – how are those parties addressed in the article affected differently (consumers, producers, government)? Even within these groups, who win and who lose?

Prime concerns– with the economic context, what should be the priority of policymakers and is the content of the article in line with that?

Pros & Cons – what are the edges of the policy in the article? What are the disadvantages?

To score highly under the evaluation header, we need to choose a few of these subsections to analyze how the policy or its proposal might support, undermine, or develop existing economic theory.

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