#7 Best Study Tip for IB Psych: 5 Minute Practice Exams

Travis DixonRevision and Exam Preparation

A 5 minute practice exam might help just as much as a 5 hour one.

Practice makes permanent. The only problem is that the IB Psych exams are 3-5 hours long, so they’re very difficult to practise. There are also over 50 different topics to study, but only a few will be asked on the exam. So while it might be great doing a couple of practice exams, including your school’s mocks, it’s not good for daily practice. Here’s what I’d suggest instead…

Set yourself 5 minute practice exams whereby you randomly draw out the exam questions and then write a quick plan for how you’d answer each one. 

For Paper One, you’ll need four piles of questions – Bio SAQs, Cog SAQs, Soc-cult SAQs and one pile for the essay questions from the one approach you’re studying for the essay.

  • If you’re HL you’ll need to include the HL Extension topics, too.
  • For Paper Two, you’ll need all possible exam questions for the one topic you’re preparing (e.g. etiologies in Abnormal Psych or personal relationships in Human Relationships) (SL = One option, HL = two options).
  • Remember to include ethics and research methods.

Remember that you only write one essay and there will be one essay question from each approach, which means you only have to study one approach for the essays. 

Using your trusty kitchen timer set 5 minutes (remember – avoid touching your phone at all costs while studying!). Then randomly draw out your exam questions. If you want to know what to include in your answer plans, refer to Tip #8 about setting goals

I’m old school, so I like pen and paper, which is why I think cutting up exam questions and putting them in physical piles works best. But you could also do this using a random wheel generator, like this one for SAQs for the biological approach

It’s important that you’re asking yourself the right questions. You can use our exam question banks to write your own.

Or you can make your own questions. Just make sure you’re 100% confident with what the questions will look like. Test yourself here – the following might look right, but they won’t be on the exam. Do you know why?

  1. Contrast one agonist and one antagonist in neurotransmission.
  2. Explain the effect of globalisation on behaviour. 
  3. Outline the use of one research method used to study social learning theory. 


  1. Contrast is an essay term, but agonists and antagonists are part of the “additional SAQ terms” that the IB added to the course so they’ll only be asked as SAQs (see more here).
  2. Explain is an SAQ term so that is an SAQ, but globalisation is an HL topic which are not asked as SAQs, only essays.
  3. Social learning theory is technically a “content” point in the course, not a “topic,” so research methods questions won’t be asked about it. Methods and ethics questions are only asked about the topics.

“Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” so get in heaps of practice with exam questions before the big day.