It’s now November – time for exam preparation!

Really, it was time for revision a while ago if you are a student who is sitting IB Diploma Psychology exams on

Thursday 6th and Friday 7th November.  However, a week is long enough to brush up on exam technique and plan to focus your answers effectively on the questions asked rather than writing everything you know about the topics you have studied.

Feedback from the May 2014 examiners is a good place to start for tips:

Paper 1

Section A (Short-answer questions)

  • Material was generally learned well, but either the wrong material was used to answer the question or the material was not used but rather just described. 
  • There is no need to evaluate studies used to answer SAQs
  • Some confusion between terms was apparent.  (In other words – make sure you know the difference between social learning theory and social identity theory, and between a stereotype and a schema).
  • Some answers were rather long, which left candidates little time for their essay answer.

Section B (Essay)

  • Critical thinking was not integrated into the answer. Instead it was often either a list of advantages and disadvantages as a separate entity after a descriptive account or the argument was repetitive and superficial.
  • Very few candidates were able to actually focus well on evaluating the theory as opposed to just evaluating the studies they presented.
  • Candidates should be encouraged to think of the studies as only the supporting evidence. The response to the question itself happens above that. Candidates should be advised to answer the question first, and then support it with evidence.

Paper 2 (Options)

  • Basic knowledge was better demonstrated than critical thinking by candidates.
  • Candidates were not always clear on the demands of the command terms.
  • Relevant psychological research should be used in answers.

Paper 3 (Qualitative research, HL)

  • Candidates used vocabulary from quantitative research such as experiment for study, experimenter for researcher and hypothesis for aim and furthermore some candidates talked about variables, control of variables and even about cause-effect relationships and correlations in some cases. All this showed lack of knowledge of qualitative research methods.
  • Many candidates appeared well prepared for the question on reflexivity and were able to explain why reflexivity was relevant to the study with relevant knowledge and examples from the stimulus paper.
  • Candidates evaluated the study instead of the use of semi-structured interviews in the study.

So, to summarise, STOP, THINK AND FOCUS on answering what is asked, and all will go well.

Good luck to you whether you are taking your exams next week or next year.

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