The IB program requires that 25 percent of the teaching hours “be spent following an internally assessed scheme of practical/investigative work, related to all aspects of the program including the options.” The subject and design of the labs is at the teacher’s discretion. These are used to create a portfolio and must be written using a specified format. The “criteria” are as follows:

Planning (a)

Defined problem(s), research question(s); formulated hypothesis(es); selected any relevant variables.

Planning (b)

Designed realistic procedures to include appropriate apparatus, materials, methods for both the control of variables and collection of data.

Data collection

Observed and recorded raw data with precision and presented them in an organized way (using a range of appropriate scientific methods/techniques).

Data analysis

Transformed, manipulated and presented data (in a variety of appropriate ways) to provide effective communication.


Evaluated the result(s) of experiment(s) and evaluated procedure(s); suggested modifications to the procedure(s), where appropriate.

A summative evaluation is done of the following three skills:

Manipulative skills

Carried out a range of techniques proficiently with due attention to safety; followed instructions.

Personal skills (a)

Worked within a team; recognized contributions of others; encouraged the contributions of others.

Personal skills (b)

Approached experiments/investigations/projects and problem-solving exercises with self-motivation and perseverance, and in an ethical manner; paid due attention to the environmental impact.

The portfolio accounts for 24 percent of the student’s final grade, derived from the internal assessment by the teacher. The teacher grades both the Group 4 project (interdisciplinary investigation) and the labs, which together constitute the portfolio.

IB teachers are required to submit a description (“practical scheme of work”) of laboratory work done in their class to an external examiner. The examiner moderates the overall practical scheme of work experienced by the students and provides feedback to teachers and schools on their compliance with the IBO internal assessment requirements. Portfolios from individual students are sampled by the examiners to enhance standardization of grades across the program.

There is no laboratory in the IB program that is directly comparable to the above AP example. Teachers may select any molecular genetic activities they wish. However, teachers are provided with an “inquiry template” that specifies what components a laboratory should include. Recommended components are Background Information, Question/Hypothesis,

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