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BNM internal SL

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what supporting documents can be used apart from newspaper articles, videos, P/L accounts, balance sheets and interview transcripts. Is primary research necessary? What's the format for an S.L commentary as it is not mentioned in the BNM guide.


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Interview transcripts (of interviews that you've done yourself) are evidence of primary research done towards your IA. I would think that it should be written like an essay, shouldn't you ask your teacher that? They might help you with sample essays that you should follow. The syllabus does provide a guideline of the content that you should include in your report:

SL written commentary

Weighting: 25%


The SL internal assessment is a written commentary. Students need to demonstrate the application of

business and management tools, techniques and theories to a real business issue or problem.

Students must select a real issue or problem, not a fictional one, and must produce a commentary with

a title presented as a question. The commentary must refer directly to a single business organization,

but may consider industry-wide issues that impact on that organization.

The commentary must be based on primary and/or secondary data, selected for its suitability, depth and


The commentary

The issue or problem selected for the commentary must relate to the SL syllabus and refer directly to a

single business organization.

The title of the commentary must be phrased in the form of a question.

The commentary requires the application of business tools, techniques and theory to a contemporary

business issue or problem.

The commentary must not exceed 1,500 words. A word count must be included as part of the commentary.

The commentary requires analysis and evaluation of the business issue or problem. Judgments are likely

to be made throughout the commentary, but are essential within a conclusion.

The student must attach to the commentary three to five supporting documents from which the majority

of the information for the commentary has been obtained. Any additional sources, such as textbooks,

class notes and DVDs/videos, must be referenced, but will not be accepted as supporting documents.

Students must highlight the parts of each supporting document that relate directly to their commentary.

All supporting documents and additional sources must be fully referenced and included in a bibliography.

Selection of supporting documents

The supporting documents must be of a contemporary nature and written a maximum of two years

before the submission of the written commentary.

Students must select their own supporting documents, which must not be provided to the student by

the teacher.

Students must work independently, and it is recommended that they do not use the same supporting

documents as other students within the school.

52 © International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Any highlighted parts of supporting documents that are not in the language for which the student is

registered, must be translated.


With the teacher’s support, students should choose an issue or problem for investigation, and develop

a title in the form of a question.

The teacher should approve the student’s question before work is started, to ensure that it is suitable for

investigation and allows access to all levels of the assessment criteria. It is highly advisable that every

student is supplied with a copy of the assessment criteria.

The commentary can be based on secondary sources and/or primary data.

Examples of secondary sources might include:

· market research surveys

· articles from the local, national or international press

· financial reports

· business accounts

· business plans

· mission statements

· web-based surveys

· extracts from company web sites

· government and other statistics

· academic publications.

Examples of primary data might include:

· responses to questionnaires (students should include a blank copy of the questionnaire and a

tally/summary of results)

· transcripts of interviews and discussions with focus groups

· results of surveys.

The selection of the documents is very important. To achieve the highest levels of each assessment

criterion, it is strongly recommended that the supporting documents present a range of ideas and views.

For example, the selection of three to five documents published by a single company, or three to five

surveys of similar populations, would not provide balance or objectivity.

An example of an appropriate question might be, “Can company X, an independent food retailer, survive?”

The commentary could then examine business concepts such as economies of scale, mergers and

acquisitions, distribution chains, the marketing mix, and the impact of changes in the external environment

represented as economic, social and demographic trends.

The student is likely to make judgments throughout the commentary about the significance and nature

of change, but would also be expected to answer the overall question regarding survival of the

independent food retailer in the commentary’s conclusion.

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2007 53

Assessment details

The commentary may include tables and/or graphs. The supporting documents and supplementary

information such as diagrams, figures, tables of data and references, are not included in the 1,500 words.

Time allocation

The fact that the internal assessment is an integral component of the SL course, contributing 25% to the

final assessment, should be reflected in the total time allocated to the written commentary.

It is recommended that approximately 15 hours should be allocated to the written commentary. This

should include:

· time for the teacher to explain to students the requirements of the task, including codes of ethical

behaviour and confidentiality

· class time for students to work on their tasks

· additional time spent outside normal class time for students to work on their own

· time for consultation between the teacher and each student

· time to review and monitor progress, and to check authenticity.

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