11. External assessment

This section of the text will look at how the three exam papers are assessed.  After outlining the requirements for each of the papers, the chapter goes on to explain the use of command terms on the exams and then the rubrics for the SAQs and the essays.

This section will also have a sample for each type of assessment - Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3 so that you can get a sense of the writing expectations for exam day. 

It is important to remember that although you are not assessed on language or writing skills, these actually do make a difference in your ability to communicate your ideas effectively on the exam.  Preparing for exams means working on writing skills as well as learning content.  It also means brushing up on your critical thinking toolbox (see chapter 2).

Paper 1: Core

Paper 1 assesses the core - that is, the biological, cognitive and sociocultural approaches to explaining behaviour.

Part a of Paper 1 has three SAQs.  You must answer all three questions - one from each of the different approaches. You should have one piece of research for each SAQ. The SAQs on both the HL and SL exam are identical.

Part b of Paper 1 is an essay.  You will be given three essays to choose from -  you write only one.  There will be one essay from each of the three approaches. 

HL candidates will see one or more of the essay questions taken from the HL extensions.

For all essays, you should have two or more pieces of research to answer your question.  Cramming your response with a lot of research does not make for a good essay.  Remember, there should be a balance in your essay between demonstrating knowledge and demonstrating critical thinking. 

You have two hours for this paper - one hour for the SAQs and one hour for the essay.

Paper 2: Options

Paper 2 assesses the options that you have studied.  For SL candidates, you will have to answer one essay out of a choice of three for the option that you have studied.  For HL candidates, you will have to answer two essays - one from each of the two options that you have prepared. 

The questions for SL and HL are the same.  There is one question asked from each component of the option. 

A typical paper 2 would like this:

Developmental psychology

4. Discuss the influence of poverty/socioeconomic status on cognitive development.
5. Discuss the role of attachment on development.
6. To what extent do biological factors influence cognitive development?

You would choose one of the questions to answer.  You have one hour for each essay.

Paper 3: Research methods

Paper 3 is only for HL students For this paper you will be given an "unseen research study."  You will have to read the study and then answer a set of three questions about the study.  Some of the questions are broken down into parts.  There is a list of questions that the IB can choose from when setting the exam.

More details about this paper will appear in the relevant section of this chapter.

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