Introduction to IB Economics Assessments

An Overview of Paper 1, Paper 2, Paper 3, and the Internal Assessment

Paper 1 | The Essay Question

Paper 1 consists of three questions that come from all units of the syllabus.  Students must answer one of the three questions and will have 75 minutes to do so.   For High Level students Paper 1 is worth 20% of their composite score, while for Standard Level students it is worth 30%.  

Each question on the paper has two parts, parts (a) and (b).    Part (a) asks students to analyze an economic situation and is worth 10 marks.  Part (b) asks students to not only evaluate an economic real-life example but also provide a judgment of sound economic policy to address the situation.   Part (b) is worth 15 marks.

The exam starts with a five-minute reading period that students can use to decide which of the three questions they will answer and time to plan their approach to answering the question.  

Advice: First of all, be sure to answer the question that is asked.  Provide a topic sentence to each part of your answer. Be sure to define all of the economic terms you use with precision.  Definitely strive to embed at least one of the Nine Central Themes into your answer.  They show deep understanding of the big picture.  


Paper 2 | The Data Response Question

Paper 2 is the Data Response question which means that students will be given an article or a set of data (or both) upon which to base their answers.  Paper 2 consists of two questions that come from all units of the syllabus.  Students must answer one of the two questions and will have 105 minutes to do so.  Students may use a calculator.  For High Level students the Paper 2 is worth 30% of their composite score, while for Standard Level students it is worth 40%. 

Each question on Paper 2 has seven parts, parts (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g).   Part (a) and (b) are further divided into two parts (i and ii).  These two parts will ask you for specific definitions and calculations.  Parts (c), (d), (e), and (f), ask students to analyze an economic situation.  Part (g) asks students to not only evaluate an economic real-life example but also provide a judgment of sound economic policy to address the situation.  Paper 2 is worth 40 marks.

The exam starts with a five-minute reading period that students should use to decide which of the two questions to answer, to read the given article and date, and time to plan their approach to answering the question.   

Advice: First all, be sure to answer the question that is asked.  Choose which question to answer based on Part (g) because it is worth 15 of the 40 marks.  Provide a topic sentence to each part of your answer. Be sure to define all economic terms you use with precision.  Strive to embed at least one of the Nine Central Themes into your answer.  They show deep understanding of the big picture.   

Paper 3 | The Policy Paper

- High Level Only -

Paper 3 consists of two questions that come from all units of the syllabus.  Students must answer both of questions and will have 45 minutes to do so.   (For the May 2022 exam students will only need to answer ONE of the two questions).   Paper 3 is taken only by High Level and is worth 30% of their composite score.

Each question on the paper has eight parts and its own examination booklet for your answers.  Students may use a calculator and all numerical answers require whole numbers or two decimal places.   

For parts (a) through (h), students will be given material—graphs, data sets, a short article, from which they will base their answers.  Questions will ask for definitions, calculations or explanations.  Part (i) is the evaluation questions which asks students to provide a policy recommendation based on the information they have provided by using appropriate evidence to support their answers.  

The exam starts with a five-minute reading period that students can use to decide which of the three questions they will answer and time to plan their approach to answering the question.    


The Internal Assessment

- The Commentary -

The Internal Assessment asks students to find a real-life situation in the news from the last year and to write a paper that applies both an Economic theory and one of the Nine Central Themes.  For High Level students the Internal Assessment is worth 20% of their composite score, while for Standard Level students it is worth 30% of their composite score .

Each student must write three commentaries, one on each of the three main sections of the curriculum.  Each of the real-life situations must come from a different news source and each commentary must refer to a different one of the Nine Central Themes of scarcity, choice, efficiency, equity, economic wellbeing, sustainability, change, interdependence and intervention.

The Internal Assessment is graded by the IB Economics teacher of the school where it is assigned and then a sampling is sent to the IB for moderation.  Each commentary is worth 14 marks.  Since the Internal Assessment portfolio consists of three commentaries and 3 bonus points, the maximum score for the Internal Assessment is 45 marks.