Nicole Baudisch, IB Ambassador of Business & Economics at IB Wave, CAS & Advisory Coordinator. Head of I&S Department.
IB Business essay questions provide students with excellent opportunities to demonstrate ability to synthesize data and to present their thoughts on paper. Before looking at a detailed approach, students need to remember to comprehend the command terms and to always link to the “stimulus” (every question is packed into a case study – scenario).
Command terms are used throughout all content units, corresponding to learning or assessment objectives (AO) and are an integer part of the IB Exams.
The AOs indicate the extent of the required response. Furthermore, the command terms can be seen in the exam answer methodologies.
The structures recommended are often DEAD or DEADER.
To succeed and approach each question in the correct manner, understanding the command term is crucial.
The command term and achieving marks indicate the extent of the written response. Words like “explain,” “discuss,” “justify,” are prompting and signal words.
The higher the mark, the more complex the answer must be.
AO1 – Demonstrate knowledge and Understanding
A define question can usually be answered in 2-3 sentences where the student demonstrates knowledge learnt from the course book.
Define the term market orientated 
A business that bases its product or service offerings on the needs of its consumers is said to be market- or customer-oriented.
Market research supports the company to continuously scan its environment to learn what consumers want, what rivals are selling, and how the market is changing.
To achieve the 2 marks, the candidate must make two statements in either one or two sentences.
Here it is important to mention consumer needs or wants and products or services are created based on what the market / consumer wants.
AO2- Demonstrate application and analysis
These Business questions ask candidates to present knowledge but take it a step further by explaining stimulus information, selecting and interpreting specific qualitative or quantitative data from the stimulus and applying business tools, techniques, concepts and theories.
That might be in form of calculations or reasoning with the stimulus materials.
“Analyze”, “Apply”, “Comment”, “Demonstrate”, “Distinguish”, “Explain” are the often-used command terms in a Business Exam Paper.
The questions carry 2 up to 6 marks. The more marks, the more application and analysis a candidate has to demonstrate. Again, the marks also indicate the length of the response.
Unless it is a calculation question or has been already done in a previous question, it is recommended to define the key term in the question.
Explain two benefits to AS of the decision to adopt e-commerce. 
E-commerce is the process of selling goods and services using internet technologies. AS can operate all around the clock without opening hours or holiday closure.
An online presence is accessible from any internet connected device. This helps AS to target a wider and global audience and to increase sales revenues.
The question is answered in 4 sentences and carries 4 marks.
If the question carries 6 marks, students have to use DEAD structure and include a discussion.
AO3- Demonstrate synthesis and evaluation
These are the critical thinking and high marker also called extended response questions. They often carry 10 marks and more.
IB candidates must make judgements based on presented ideas, evidence and arguments.
The answer methodology is based on DEAD or DEADER and demands the selection of quantitative and qualitative business tools including extensive data application.
Candidates are expected to support arguments with examples from the stimulus.
AO3 questions including the command term “Evaluate” must be answered with
Define – Explain – Apply – Discuss – Evaluate – Recommend.
When writing the extended responses, candidates have to think further than just the question topic.
It is recommended to investigate different business areas. Also, a candidate should use evaluative and analytical vocabulary. That helps to reduce word count.
In the next article, the evaluation framework LOSERS, CLASPS and PEELS will be discussed in detail.
IB Wave helps you with your Business Subject, either if you need to prepare your IB Exams, revise concepts or even finish or improve your Internal Assessment, Extended Essay or TdC.