How to Write an IB Lab Report


Experimental sciences play an important part in the education of International Baccalaureate students. Pupils opting to study modules such as chemistry or physics are required to submit portfolios of their investigations for internal and external assessment. The results of all experiments must follow formal criteria set out by the International Baccalaureate foundation. Once students learn to write an IB lab report, they will be able to present information in a clear and organized manner.

A good lab report should allow anyone to duplicate an experiment.
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Things You'll Need

  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Blue or black pen
Step 1

Create a new word processing document. All IB lab reports must be typed. The only exception is indicating raw data, which can be done with either a blue or black pen.

IB lab reports must be typed.
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Step 2

Label the first page of the IB lab report in the top right-hand corner. Be sure to list your name, the date, experiment number and IB number.

Always label your report to avoid marking errors.
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Step 3

Write your title. This should be descriptive and summarize your experiment.

The lab report title should sum up your experiment.
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Step 4

Save your work with a file name that includes your name. This will aid teachers viewing your work electronically.

Avoid data loss by frequently saving your lab report.
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Step 1

Use the interrogative form for questions (e.g. What effect does? ... ).

Beneath your title, write down your question.
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Step 2

Provide your reader with paragraph of background information. This should be written formally using third person. This section should give your reader an idea of your subject knowledge and relevant information.

Draw on your subject knowledge in this section.
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Step 3

Write your hypothesis. This summarizes your assumptions and the expected outcome. Discuss control factors and variables before identifying what you’re looking for and what will be measured. This section should always end with a conditional (e.g. If ... then ... ) statement.

Your hypothesis reveals your assumptions and expectations.
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Step 1

List all equipment and materials used. Include precise measurements in your materials list.

Always include exact measurements.
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Step 2

Draw a diagram of the experiment. Label necessary items in the procedures section.

A drawing of your setup enables the experiment to be replicated.
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Step 3

Use a numbered, step-by-step format to show how the experiment was conducted. This section should be labeled "Method." Use the past tense for this section. For example, "The Bunsen burner was lit" rather than "Light the Bunsen burner."

Number each item in your method section.
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Step 4

Express any concerns under the "Safety" section.

Toxic gas is a safety issue worth mentioning.
experiment image by Andrey Kiselev from
Step 1

Create a "Data Collection" section. Information here can be quantitative or qualitative. Raw data from your experiment should be stored in well-labeled tables, noting any uncertainties. Original data—if available—should be attached to the end of the report.

Data charts must be labelled on both axes.
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Step 2

Process your data as medians or averages. Use diagrams or graphs. This can be done in blue or black ink—or use spreadsheet software. Label this section "Data Processing and Presentation."

Show formulas and calculations in this section.
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Step 3

Refer to your hypothesis in the "Conclusion" section. Draw on the results of the experiment and, if possible, indicate the percentage of error. Refer to established findings in this section and reference appropriately.

Write this section using a paragraph format.
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Step 4

The final section, "Evaluation," allows you to review your work. Use a paragraph format discussing errors, ways to avoid mistakes or ideas for further study.

Discuss how to prevent errors in future experiments in this section.
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Tips & Warnings

  • Always write in first person, unless noted.
  • Always provide references.


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