Writing samples:Biological

The following section includes annotated samples of responses to exam questions - as well as strategies for answering questions based on the command terms. The responses are not from the IB.  They are based on work done in-class by students, or they are created specifically for the site. Often the sample is designed to provide examples of common mistakes or in order to show something that should be done for higher marks. 

There is no definitive list of questions for this curriculum - so the list of potential questions below is not exhaustive.  However, I do believe that most of the questions will fall within the list that has been provided below. The questions are grouped by topic and include both SAQ and ERQ (essay) questions.

SAQs may be asked using the command terms explain, describe or outline.  In the following sections, all questions will be stated using "explain" to simplify this page.

For the ERQ responses, students will need to include two or more pieces of research. In most cases, a single example will be asked for the SAQ questions.

Potential exam questions: Research methods and ethics

SAQs*

  1. Explain the use of one research method in one study using the biological approach to understanding human behaviour. 
  2. Explain the use of one research method in one study of the brain and behaviour.
  3. Explain the use of one research method in one study of hormones or pheromones and behaviour.
  4. Explain the use of one research method in one study of genetics and behaviour.
  5. Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study using a biological approach to understanding human behaviour.
  6. Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study of the brain and behaviour.
  7. Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study of hormones or pheromones and behaviour.
  8. Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study of genetics and behaviour.

ERQs

Each of the questions above may be asked as an ERQ by removing "one study" and replacing the command term as follows:

  • Discuss the use of one or more research methods.....
  • Evaluate the use of one or more research methods....
  • Discuss ethical considerations .....

Potential exam questions: brain and behaviour

SAQs

Each of the following questions may be asked either as an outline, describe or explain question.  To keep things simple, each question is asked as an "explain" question here.

  1. Explain one technique used to study the brain in relation to behaviour.
  2. Explain one study of localization of function.
  3. Explain one study of neuroplasticity.
  4. Explain neuroplasticity, making use of one study.
  5. Explain the role of one neurotransmitter in human behaviour, making use of one study.
  6. Explain the formation of neural networks using one study. (as of 2020)
  7. Explain the role of one agonist, making use of one study. (as of 2020)
  8. Explain the role of one antagonist, making use of one study. (as of 2020)
  9. Explain neural pruning, making use of one study. (as of 2020)

ERQs

Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  1. Evaluate at least one technique used to study the brain in relation to behaviour.
  2. Evaluate research on localization of function.
  3. Evaluate research on neuroplasticity.
  4. Evaluate research on the role of neurotransmission on behaviour.

Potential exam questions: hormones and behaviour

SAQs

  1. Explain the role of one hormone in human behaviour, making use of one study.
  2. Explain one study of the role of pheromones in human behaviour.

ERQs

Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  1. Discuss the role of hormones on behaviour, using one or more examples.
  2. Discuss the role of pheromones in human behaviour, using one or more examples.

Potential exam questions: genetics and behaviour

SAQs

  1. Explain one study of the role of genes in human behaviour.
  2. Explain one evolutionary explanation of one behaviour.
  3. Explain the use of twin studies using one study. (as of 2020)
  4. Explain the use of family studies (kinship studies) using one study. (as of 2020)

ERQs

Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  1. To what extent does genetic inheritance play a role in one behaviour?
  2. Evaluate research on the role of genes on behaviour.
  3. Discuss/Evaluate one evolutionary explanation of behaviour.

Potential exam questions: animal research (HL only)

ERQs

  1. Discuss the value of animal models in psychology research.
  2. Discuss the value of animal models in the study of the brain and behaviour.
  3. Discuss the value of animal models in the study of hormones and behaviour
  4. Discuss the value of animal models in the study of the role of genes on behaviour.
  5. To what extent can animal research provide insight into human behaviour?
  6. To what extent can animal research provide insight into the role of the brain in human behaviour?
  7. To what extent can animal research provide insight into the role of genes on human behaviour?
  8. To what extent can animal research provide insight into the role of hormones on human behaviour?
  9. Discuss ethical considerations in animal research.
  10. Discuss ethical considerations in animal research on the brain and behaviour.
  11. Discuss ethical considerations in animal research on hormones and behaviour.
  12. Discuss ethical considerations in animal research on the role of genes on behaviour.
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