Exam Topics in IB Psychology Paper Two – Overview

Travis DixonAssessment (IB)

The most important thing you need to know when preparing for Paper 2 is to know the topics that might be in the questions - here they are!

The most important thing to know when studying for the IB Psychology exams are the topics. The IB Guide published by the IB has these listed. Unfortunately, the guide is a bit confusing in its layout and it’s not easy to see quickly and easily what the topics are. That’s why I put them in this post. 

Download the following exam tables here: Exam Topics in Paper Two IB Psych 2.0

Standard Level (SL) students will write one essay on one option. Higher Level (HL) students write two essays on two options. This is the most important thing to remember in Paper 2: there are three questions and three topics for every option. Therefore, you are guaranteed at least one exam essay question based on one of the “topics.” This means you can choose to study only one and it’s what I recommend you do.

For example, Abnormal Psychology has three topics:

  • Diagnosis
  • Etiologies
  • Treatment

There will be one question on each of these topics.

From an actual IB past exam.

These “topics” also include sub-topic content points – these could also be the basis of an exam question. For example, even though the “topic” is “Factors influence diagnosis,” the exam question is actually based on one of the content points.

This means when you’re revising for Paper 2, you need to make a full list of the possible exam topics. This also includes research methods and ethics. For only one topic, the list of possible exam questions becomes quite long. This is why I recommend revising only one topic per option. You can see a list of the possible exam topics in the Etiologies (Abnormal Psych) in this post that explains more on how to revise for Paper 2.

Read more:

Exam Topics in Paper Two – Options Topics

Abnormal Psychology

Topics Content
Factors Influencing Diagnosis ·       Normality versus abnormality
·       Classification systems
·       The role of clinical biases in diagnosis
·       Validity and reliability of diagnosis
Etiology of Abnormal Psychology ·       Explanations for disorders
·       Prevalence rates and disorders
Treatment of Disorders ·       Biological treatments
·       Psychological treatments
·       The role of culture in treatment
·       Assessing the effectiveness of treatment(s)

Human Relationships

Topics Content
Personal Relationships


·       Formation of personal relationships
·       Role of communication
·       Explanations for why relationships change or end
Group Dynamics ·       Co-operation and competition
·       Prejudice and discrimination
·       Origins of conflict and conflict resolution
Social Responsibility ·       Bystanderism
·       Prosocial behaviour
·       Promoting prosocial behaviour

Developmental Psychology

Topics Content
Influences on cognitive and social development ·       Roles of peers and play
·       Childhood trauma and resilience*
·       Poverty/socioeconomic status
Developing an identity ·       Attachment
·       Gender identity and social roles*
·       Development of empathy and theory of mind
Developing as a learner ·       Cognitive development
·       Brain development

Health Psychology

Topics Content
Determinants of health


·       Biopsychosocial model of health and well-being
·       Dispositional factors and health beliefs*
·       Risk and protective factors
Health Problems ·       Explanations of health problems(s)
·       Prevalence rates of health problem(s)
Promoting health ·       Health promotion
·       Effectiveness of health promotion programmes

There will be one question based on each topic, 3 questions per option. Questions might also be asked about research methods or ethical considerations related to topics. You can see an example list of exam topics for one option topic (etiologies) in this blog post.

*These terms may be separated and asked individually in exam questions. Therefore, treat them as separate topics.