Assessment changes

The new curriculum is available on the OCC as of February 8th.  You will see that there are some significant changes to the assessment of the course.

First, there are no longer learning outcomes that will be used to set questions.

Secondly, there are new rubrics.

Third, there are now "static questions" for paper 3.

Below you will see some of the changes to expect in the new curriculum.  Remember, this will be for the students that will sit exams in May 2019.  For your current students, it is business as usual.

Changes to Papers 1 & 2 exam questions

The greatest change is that there are no more learning outcomes that will serve as the basis for exam questions.  When you see the guide, you will see that there are three columns. The questions can only be formulated from the first two columns.

In addition, there are two general questions that can applied to any section of the core: the role of research methods (methodology) and ethical considerations.

The only command terms that may be used for SAQ questions are: Outline, describe, and explain

The only command terms that may be used for essay questions are: Contrast, discuss, evaluate and to what extent.

The HL extension may only be assessed as an essay, not an SAQ.  There may be one, two or three HL extension questions for the essays.

For sample questions for the approaches, see the following links:

On Paper 2, one question must be asked from each of the three sections of the option.  The exam setters may not set two questions from the same section of the curriculum.

Changes to Papers 1 & 2 assessment rubrics

Paper 1, section a

This section remains the same. The assessment rubric is now out of 9 marks instead of 8 for each SAQ (short-answer question).  There is also more clarity in the rubric that research is required for all responses. No other significant changes.

Paper 1, section b and Paper 2

The essays now have more assessment criteria. 

Focus:  Students must explain the problem or issue raised in the question. 2 marks.

Knowledge and understanding: General understanding of psychological concepts; use of correct terminology. 6 marks

Use of research: Research must be relevant, fully explained and effectively used to develop an argument. 6 marks

Critical thinking: As currently in the curriculum. 6 marks.

Clarity and organization: Focus is on organization of the response and clarity of language use. 2 marks.

Total score for essays is 22 marks.

Total for paper 1 is now 49

Changes to Paper 3

Paper 3 will continue to be an "unseen research passage." However, the study may qualitative or quantitative. It may include any of the following methods:

  • Case study
  • Correlational research
  • Experiment: True, field, quasi-experiments or natural experiments.
  • Interview: unstructured, semi-structured or focus group
  • Naturalistic observation

Each of the stimulus pieces will have the following three questions. They will always be asked. Total of 9 marks.

  • Identify one method used and outline its characteristics.
  • Describe the sampling method used in the study
  • Suggest an alternative or additional method giving one reason for your choice.

Students will then be asked one of the following questions (6 marks):

  • Describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and explain if further ethical considerations should be taken.
  • Describe the ethical considerations in reporting the results and explain ethical considerations that could be taken into account when using the results of the study.

The final question asks students to go a bit deeper in their critical thinking.  They will be asked one of the following questions (9 marks):

  • Discuss the possibility of generalizing the findings of the study
  • Discuss how a researcher could ensure that the results of the study are credible
  • Discuss how the researcher in the study could avoid personal and/or methodological bias.

The final question is assessed on a standard rubric in the guide; the first four questions are assessed using a specific markscheme. 


Until the first set of exams is given, there are no markbands for the papers.  It is recommended that you use the current markbands to create a comparable scale for assessment to help students to prepare for May 2019.  After the first set of exams are given, IA markbands will then be standardized for the rest of the life of the curriculum and we will have a better sense of the exam assessment standards.

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