Lectura: 6 minutos

IB Business Essay Questions made easy. DEAD and DEADER

Students compose brief essays for their IB Business External Assessments to show their knowledge and critical thinking abilities. In addition to presenting content, students must demonstrate to the readership examiner—that they have managed to master the material and can apply it.



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).


Essay structures

Command Terms

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” Business questions carry in most IB Exam Papers 2 marks. Unless it is specifically asked in the question, a general answer suffices.

“Define” means to provide the meaning, concept of the key term.

Similar to “define” are “Describe”, “Outline” or “State / List” Business questions.

A “Describe” question asks the student to provide detailed information or facts on a key term or case matter.

An “Outline” business question asks the student to give a short summary of a certain aspect of the case/ stimulus.

“State / List” Business questions ask the student to repeat, briefly answer or provide numeric data without further explanation.

In case of calculations, the student doesn’t need to demonstrate own working. Often, these question types ask the candidate to repeat facts from the stimulus.



Define the term market orientated [2]

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.

“Analyze” Business questions ask the candidate to break down and explain elements from the stimulus or to give context and meaning to information.

There are hardly direct questions that ask candidates to apply but to achieve full marks in higher mark questions, candidates must link their ideas, equations, concepts or theory to the stimulus provided.

The answer must fit the Business case study. The candidates show through application that they have understood the scenario (stimulus).

Application is not just only repeating information from the stimulus. Application should support or reject a claim and strengthen the argument.

“Comment” Business questions are demanding a judgement based on previous analysis or calculations. They are a way to conclude an argument.

“Demonstrate” Business questions require the IB candidate to provide evidence, give examples and if possible, apply information from the stimulus.

In “Distinguish” questions, the candidate must show the differences between concepts, theories or other content. Usually, at least 2 facts should be pointed out.

“Explain” questions ask the candidate to define the key term and to provide detailed account with reasoning.


Explain two benefits to AS of the decision to adopt e-commerce. [4]

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.

Candidates should start with “Define” – any key concepts, theories or terminologies relevant to the question and answer should be defined in context to the stimulus.

The second step is to link the question to the stimulus provided by “Explain” in-depth the relevance.

“Apply” and “Discuss” is a simultaneous process. The candidate can first present quantitative and qualitative data, often through additional calculations or other IB Business tools and then acknowledge the results to support or reject the argument.

Candidate states the advantage (Point)

The candidate should always link the answer to the stimulus and give evidence and can work out short vs. long-term impacts, possible stakeholder conflicts or synergies.

Candidate states the disadvantage (Point) and applies with supporting data from the stimulus.

The candidate should include analytical aspects that include short vs. long-term impacts, possible growth strategies, changing business objectives etc.

Candidate states second advantage (Point). Application backs up the argument and is linked to the stimulus. Any argument must “fit”.

Candidate states the second weakness (Point) and applies with supporting data from the stimulus.

It is recommended to mention changes and possible impacts on internal and external stakeholders. Analysis looks at evaluative ideas (LOSERS).

It is recommended to summarize the strongest points in favor or against the hypothesis or investigation.

The IB candidate can make a recommendation or mention limitations to the discussion.

It is always advisable to look at possible growth or economies of scale opportunities.

Look out

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

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.

¡No te pierdas nada!
Suscríbete a nuestra newsletter
Shopping cart0
Aún no agregaste productos.

Log In