A popular but silly strategy for IB Psych exams is to pre-write essay answers for every.single.question and then try to memorise them. Worse yet, downloading or buying existing essays and trying to memorise them. This is much, much harder than planning your own revision strategy.
A much better strategy, imho, is to write plans for each topic. Don’t worry about different command terms, just think SAQs = Explain and Essays = Discuss.
For SAQ plans, you could follow my 7 steps to the perfect SAQ as an outline. For Essay plans, you could use my Three Rules of Three. Or follow the advice given to you by your teacher. You could also try using the strategy my students used which resulted in their best ever essays.
The point is, you can cover more topics and revise more content by writing shorter, quicker plans, instead of writing entire essays. If you want to, after you’ve written your plans you could put them in a large pile, draw one randomly, give yourself the same time as the exam and see if you could develop the plan into an excellent answer.
Feedback is important, too, so partner up with someone or ask your teacher in advance if they’d be willing to check your plans with you.
Tip: As a teacher I hate getting emails from students asking me to check their work. I love having students coming to me in person and making a time to go over extra work that they’ve done.
If you think the IB Psych syllabus is confusing it’s because, I think, they tried to protect against students memorising exams by making it difficult to guess the exam questions. The obvious problem with this is that it can make figuring out what to teach equally difficult. That’s why we’ve created the exam question banks so you can feel more confident about what might appear on the exams. Use these to write plans and prepare, not try to memorise a hundred essays.
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.