What to Do if You Don’t Pass Your IB IA and How to Succeed Next Time

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As an experienced IB tutor, I’ve witnessed firsthand the anxiety and confusion that can arise when a student doesn’t pass their Internal Assessment (IA). What happens if you don’t pass your IB IA, or even worse if you don’t submit an IB IA? Answering these inquiries can substantially affect your overall success in the IB program. In this article, I will help you comprehend the consequences, initial actions to be taken, and plans for long-term achievements.

What Happens If You Don’t Pass Your IB IA?

Numerous students grappled with the aftermath of failing an Internal Assessment. In my experience, the impact of not passing an IA can vary significantly. Still, it’s crucial to understand that this isn’t the end of your academic path in the International Baccalaureate program. Let me guide you through what typically happens and how you can manage this challenging scenario.

Immediate Implications

From my experience, failing an IA leads to a significant drop in your overall course grade. According to general IB criteria, the IA accounts for a substantial portion of your final mark — sometimes as much as 25% to 50%, depending on the subject. This reduction can place additional pressure on you to perform exceptionally well in other course components, especially the final exams.

It’s essential to recognize that this immediate impact affects your academic record, confidence, and preparedness for the remainder of the course. As someone who has guided countless students through their IB path, I can affirm that addressing these challenges promptly and effectively is crucial to maintaining your academic trajectory.

Opportunities for Resubmission

It’s important to note that not all hope is lost if you fail an IA. Some schools and subjects within the IB framework allow for resubmission of IAs, providing a second chance to improve your score. In my opinion, this opportunity is invaluable. If resubmission is allowed in your case, it’s critical to act swiftly to understand the feedback, correct the mistakes, and enhance the overall quality of your work before the final deadline.

Engaging deeply with the feedback process, asking clarifying questions, and perhaps even seeking peer review can significantly elevate the quality of your resubmitted IA. As I know from experience, this can not only salvage your grade but also deepen your understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.

Long-Term Consequences

If resubmission is not an option, the long-term consequences of failing an IA can include the need to retake the entire course or, in extreme cases, it could affect your IB Diploma eligibility. However, in most scenarios, students can still pass the course despite a low IA score by excelling in the final exams. From my experience, this requires a strategic approach to studying and possibly additional support through tutoring or extra lessons.

Implementing a structured study plan, using school resources, and engaging in group study sessions can significantly improve your chances of success. It’s crucial to approach this situation with determination and a proactive mindset, as overcoming these hurdles can also build resilience and prepare you for future academic challenges.

Immediate Actions to Take if You Don’t Pass Your IB IA

If you do not pass your IB IA after receiving your results, it is essential to be proactive. Based on my experience, the first response may be discouraging, but your reaction can significantly impact how things turn out. Here’s a thorough strategy for handling this setback.

Firstly, and most importantly, review the examiner’s comments thoroughly. This feedback, often detailed and specific, is a goldmine for understanding the deficiencies in your submission. According to general IB criteria, examiners provide constructive feedback to highlight areas where you can improve, whether it’s the clarity of your argument, the depth of your analysis, or the relevance of your research question. This step is fundamental as it sets the groundwork for revisions or future projects.

Secondly, consult your IB coordinator and subject teachers. Their expertise and familiarity with IB standards offer a path to rectifying mistakes. In my experience, teachers are often willing to support students who seek help proactively. They can provide insights you might have missed and guide you in aligning your work more closely with IB expectations.

You can devise a plan with your teachers to tackle the areas of improvement identified in the feedback. This plan should ideally include:

  • Revise Content. Address the gaps in knowledge or misunderstandings that might have led to your low score.
  • Enhance Methodology. Improving how you collect and analyze data, ensuring that your methods are appropriate for the research question.
  • Improve Structure and Presentation. Ensure your IA is logically organized and presented.
  • Time Management Strategies. Set a timeline for completing revisions to ensure you meet resubmission deadlines.

Moreover, based on my experience, it is advantageous to participate in peer review with classmates who have achieved high grades or resubmitted their work. It could offer new insights into your work and extra input essential for enhancements.

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What Happens if You Don’t Submit an IB IA or Need to Resubmit?

Suppose you fail to submit an IB Internal Assessment or need to resubmit. In that case, the International Baccalaureate offers provisions that vary based on your school’s policies and the subject’s nature. It’s crucial to understand the resubmission deadlines and the necessary steps involved. In my experience, proactive engagement with your IB coordinator and teachers during this phase is essential for success on your second attempt.

As a seasoned IB writer, I’ve observed that schools have specific protocols for IA resubmission, often influenced by the need to maintain the IB’s rigorous standards. If you haven’t submitted an IA or your submission failed to meet the minimum requirements, you might get a chance to submit a revised version. This opportunity, however, depends on your school’s internal deadlines, which align with the IB’s schedule for final assessments.

The path to resubmission involves detailed planning and close collaboration with your teachers. They can provide critical feedback, helping you identify where your initial submission fell short, whether in the depth of analysis, conceptual understanding, or clarity of presentation. Here are a few steps I recommend:

  • Create a Detailed Timeline. Ensure you meet all interim deadlines before the final submission.
  • Schedule Feedback Sessions. Regular check-ins with your teachers can help refine your IA progressively.
  • Use Additional Resources. Seek supplementary materials, such as books, articles, or workshops, to enhance your understanding and execution of the IA.

Engaging deeply in this process prepares you for a successful resubmission and develops skills in time management and critical thinking, which are invaluable for your academic path.

Common Reasons Why Students Fail Their IB IA

Understanding the common pitfalls can dramatically improve your approach and execution of these crucial assignments. The reasons for failing an IA stem from a few recurring issues that can be avoided with the proper guidance. Here, I’ll share some of the most common reasons based on my experience and according to general IB criteria.

Poor Understanding of the Assignment Requirements

From my experience, misunderstanding the assignment’s requirements is a significant factor contributing to IA failures. Students often underestimate the depth of analysis or the specificity of research needed. It’s crucial to carefully review the IA guidelines and criteria provided by the IB and to discuss these with your teacher to ensure you fully understand the expectations.

Inadequate Research and Supporting Evidence

Another common issue is insufficient research or poor-quality evidence. In my opinion, robust research forms the backbone of a successful IA. Students sometimes rely on limited or unreliable sources, which undermines the strength of their argument. According to general IB criteria, the evidence must be credible and adequately referenced, supporting your thesis effectively.

Lack of Coherent Structure and Argumentation

Many students fail to present their information and ideas coherently. I know that a well-structured IA with a proper word count should have a clear introduction, a logically developed body, and a concise conclusion. Each section should seamlessly connect to the next, with strong transitions and a clear thread of argumentation throughout.

Poor Time Management

Time management, or the lack thereof, is a critical factor that often leads to IA failures. From my experience, students tend to underestimate the time required to complete their IA effectively. Starting early and planning a realistic schedule for completing different stages of the IA can help avoid a rushed and often incomplete final submission.

Neglecting Feedback

Finally, neglecting to incorporate feedback is a common oversight that can lead to failing an IA. Teachers often provide preliminary feedback on your topic, research question, and draft work throughout the IA process. Students who take this feedback seriously and make necessary revisions tend to perform much better.


In summary, not succeeding in an IA doesn’t mark the finish of your IB experience but an opportunity for personal development and knowledge. See this situation as a chance to improve your academic skills and perseverance. Remember that every IB student who has succeeded has encountered difficulties, but you can also conquer them with the correct attitude and assistance.

As you continue, maintain a positive attitude and use every resource. Perseverance and resolve are crucial in transforming your IA obstacles into victories. Best of luck!

If you need help with your Internal Assessment, you’re in the right place. Our experienced team at IBStudentHelp.com can assist you every step of the way.

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky is a devoted educator, marketing specialist, and management expert with more than 15 years of experience in the education sector. After obtaining his business degree in 2016, Nick embarked on a quest to achieve his PhD, driven by his commitment to enhancing education for students worldwide. His vast experience, starting in 2008, has established him as a reputable authority in the field.

Nick's article, featured in Routledge's "Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization," highlights his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to advancing the educational landscape. Inspired by his personal motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to streamline students' lives and foster efficient learning. His inventive ideas and leadership have contributed to the transformation of numerous educational experiences, distinguishing him as a true innovator in his field.

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