top of page

How to answer an IB Business 17 mark question

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

One of the changes for the IB Business 2022/2024 syllabus is the introduction of Paper 3. This focuses on social enterprises and offering recommendations to help them succeed despite some issues present in the business. But one of the biggest challenges of this paper is writing a 17 mark question.

How do you structure a 17 mark question? How does a 17 mark question differ from a 10 mark question? How many paragraphs are in a 17 mark question? How do I get top marks on the 17 mark question?

These are all valid questions and this blog post is going to try to help you answer this.

First, let’s break down what Paper 3 is:

You will then learn more about the company through different resources. There will be 5-6 of these including news articles, emails, customer reviews, social media posts, infographics, etc.

This is a decision-making paper that requires you to make a recommendation to the business.

A 17 mark question seems like a weird number of marks, but this question has a rubric and is broken down into four criterion. You can find out more information below.

Criterion A: Use of resources

Criterion B: Business management tool and theories

Criterion C: Evaluation

Criterion D: Sequence of events

Criterion A: Use of Resource

Common questions:

Do I need to reference every resource?

Yes, to get top marks, you need to reference EVERY resource. This shows depth and variety.

Do I need to quote the line and use exact quotes?

You don’t need to quote the line or use exact quotes, but it must be clear which source you have referenced. For example, in the email, the employee mentions… or. In Source A, the CEO is angry…

Make a list of all of the sources and check them off once you have used them to assure you can get top marks.

Criterion B: Business management tools and theories

Does the text mention any business tools or theories specifically? Then make sure you use them in your analysis!

If not, then make sure every body paragraph has some mention of vocabulary, theorists or tool from the course. This could be mentioning achieving economies of scale, which quadrant your idea falls into from the Ansoff matrix, how this would motivate someone based on Herzberg, etc.

Don’t try to force tools/theories that don’t work, but this is a major part of this question.

Criterion C: Evaluation

Evaluation is the biggest section of this question. Make sure that you talk about the impact of your ideas on the business in DIFFERENT ways. Use the ideas below to help you evaluate properly.

Evaluation Points

- Long-term vs short-term

- Financial vs non-financial

- Stakeholders

- Context of the business (economic conditions, competitors, etc.)

- Objectives of the business (reputation, ethics, etc.)

Let’s break this down:

Long-term vs short-term: This is one of the easiest ones to talk about. When you propose an action, how will it affect the business in the short-term and what will be the long term impacts.

Financial vs non-financial: Will our idea cost money? Does the organization have the money to carry it out? In turn, what non-financial benefits will the business experience? For example, the marketing campaign is expensive, but brand image will increase or volunteers will be more motivated if they receive free lunches during their shift, etc.

Stakeholders: Who will be affected? Will this be a positive or negative effect? Which stakeholders are the most important?

Context of the business: Make sure to take the context of the business into consideration like the products they sell, the economic conditions (if mentioned), competitors that they have, etc.

Objectives of the business: Has the business mentioned objectives that they have? Will your plan help them achieve them? Do they want to help more people? Do they want to increase sales? Expand to another area? This must be taken into account when providing a recommendation.

Make sure that you consider trade-offs or opportunity costs as well.

Use the evaluation points from the previous slides to show trade offs between your ideas.

For example: If they do X then they can’t do Y. Or X will make one stakeholder happy, but it will demotivate another stakeholder. In the short-term, it will help them reduce the damage the media has caused, but in the long-term, it will be too expensive to maintain.

Do you need to include all of these points for top marks?

No! But, it is good to include at least THREE to show effective evaluation of the plan.

Criterion D: Sequence of ideas

It is important to show that you thought about the order of your ideas. What are you doing first? Why?

To do this, it is important to write mention the plan in the introduction, use numerical transition words (first, second, etc.), and explain the reasoning behind your order.

For example: The marketing campaign must be done first to limit the damage to the brand image. Looking for a source of finance is secondary as the business has a surplus that can be used in the interim…

Hopefully this explanation of the rubric and the break-down has helped you get your head around the 17 mark question. In the next post, I will talk about two different ways to structure the question to get top marks!

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page