How to Choose Topics for IB Math IA and EE

Choosing topics for any research-based essay can significantly affect how your essay is and therefore many students find it one of the most difficult parts of the assignment.


IA and EE in IB Mathematics are essentially the same in terms of what they require. However, EE is an extended and a much more in-depth analysis of the topic of your choice. Therefore, for an EE the topic you choose should be a little broader and have a lot more potential for detailed study than your topic for your IA. A topic for an IB Math IA can be much more focused and have limited possibilities in exploration. If you are not sure about how much you can explore in a particular topic, speak with your teacher or your online IB maths tutor to discuss options.


Any research based extended essay is best written on a topic that the writer feels passionate about or is keen to explore. Hence, choose a topic that invokes curiosity in you or that you wish to learn more about. Personal engagement is an important criterion in IA and EE and is best justified when the topic you choose has a major relevance in your life in general or your further studies. It could also be based on things you see around you like cooling rates of food on your table or patterns in nature. Your topic could also be based on your passion for music, equestrian, skating or any other hobbies you may have. Mathematics is everywhere. Explore the Mathematics behind things you love!


Both IB IA and EE topics should have a mathematical focus yet may not be confined to theories in IB Mathematics itself. Topics with a focus on math can be chosen from Economics, Physics or in general, Engineering and Social Sciences. For example, calculus is used in physics and engineering extensively. You can narrow down one or two such uses that you would like to explore mathematically. However, the research question and subsequently your IA and EE should revolve around the mathematical progression in the topic. Make sure that the level of Mathematics that you are exploring is in par with and/or beyond the level of Mathematics (IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches SL/HL or Application and Interpretation SL/HL) you have chosen in the IB curriculum.


Your topic may also depend on whether you want to do a statistical analysis, model data or investigate certain theories. Exploring applications of math is another approach you can take. Some students prefer choosing the approach before the topic. If so, decide which approach will you do well in. Are you good with modelling data and finding patterns? Or do you prefer exploring theories or applications of theories? When you have done choosing which approach you prefer, look at topic options. Research which topic are you interested in and has the potential to explore in terms of the approach you have chosen. Discuss approaches and relevant topics with your IB Mathematics tutor or online IB tutor to narrow down your options.


There are many resources and websites online that have extensive lists of topics. Many students find that these lists have useful yet very repetitive topics that they do not find very interesting. You can find different yet interesting ideas by considering the modules of the course you are planning to undertake at University level, ask your IB online math tutor for ideas to explore a topic and then connect the topic to your syllabus in IB. Another place to start is to focus on areas of Mathematics that you are currently learning and are particularly interested in and research what theories or applications that you have not already learnt can be investigated further.


There are a lot of topics that are very common and every other IB math IA or EE that an examiner or moderator checks is based on these. Question is how to make yours stand out? Be innovative in exploring the topic. Investigate an area of use an approach of the same topic that is unique, exciting for you and for the reader. Even though the criteria of IB Math may restrict your options for which topics have potential, your ability to innovate and explore beyond what one would expect makes your IA or EE stand out.


In your search for topics, make a list of areas that you wish to explore and narrow down the list to three or four topics in order of preference. You may find after delving into a topic that it does not have the potential to cover all of the criteria of the IA or EE well enough. In this case, it is better to have some backup options, so you do not waste time in searching for another topic.


Plan how you will explore a topic before actually starting your IA or EE. IB requires a lot from a student within the short span of two years and therefore time is precious for you. Planning your essay or making a broad outline to your proposed IA and EE can help you understand the potential of the topic you have chosen and give you an insight of your progress. It can help you conclude if the topic is a good fit for you and your essay. For further understanding, your online IB tutors are always there.

With these points in mind, you can choose the best suitable yet fail safe topic for your Mathematics IA or EE. Baccalaureate Classes are always available to students who need further help. Good Luck!

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