Biological Approach: Sample Exam Questions

Travis DixonAssessment (IB), Biological Psychology, Curriculum, Revision and Exam Preparation

It should be just as easy to write exam questions for the new course as it was for the old one.

With the new curriculum and the loss of the LOs, many teachers may be wondering about what the exam questions will be like. The answer is: much like the old ones.

If you look at all the topics in the biological approach they are all related to the understanding of how variables can influence behaviour. The exam questions will reflect this.

For example:

  • Hormones and behaviour
    • Explain the effect of one hormone on human behaviour.
  • Neurotransmission and behaviour.
    • Explain how neurotransmission affects one behaviour.
  • Genetics and behaviour
    • Explain one example of how genetics can influence human behaviour.

Where there is a biological variable in the approach, the exam questions will most likely be based on an understanding of how that variable affects behaviour.

For the other topics, it’s a little different:

Localization of Brain Function 

This whole concept simply refers to an understanding of how a particular area of the brain performs a certain function. Thus, this is the relationship between a variable and behaviour. But the exam questions for this topic will be releated to research. For example, Explain one study related to localization of brain function.


Again, the relationship is embedded within the topic: our experiences (i.e. behaviour) can affect the brain. So this is like the opposite of the relationship between localization of brain function: the brain affects behaviour, but our behaviour can also affect the brain. But as with localization, the exam questions are likely to be asked based on research. For example, “Explain one study related to neuroplasticity.”

I imagine the phrase “related to” will be used a lot, because it has to be this vague based on the ambiguity in the subject guide.

And of course, research methods and ethics could be the basis of any question.

So you can see, the exam questions for the biological approach will be pretty straightforward to prepare for. Provided students have developed an understanding of relationships between biological variables and how these can be demonstrated in studies, they will be fine.

And I haven’t gotten into the difference between SAQs and essay questions, but all you need to do is throw in a level three command term and you’ve got an essay question. E.g. “To what extent do hormones/neurotransmitters/genetics influence behaviour?” “Evaluate research related to ….” etc.