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N.B. A lot of this information is now outdated because the new syllabus was introduced.

For information regarding the 2011 syllabus check out these sites

IB Psych Revision Blog

Crane's Edublog

This article refers to IB Psychology on the standard level. For information on the higher level, see IB Psychology HL.
See also: Psychology

The International Baccalaureate Psychology Standard Level Examination (IB Psychology SL) is a Group 3 subject test administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to test students' knowledge of the various perspectives of psychology. The examination consists of an internal assessment (20% of the final grade) and an external assessment (80% of the final grade).

Internal AssessmentEdit

The purpose of the internal assessment in the IB Psychology SL exam is to demonstrate students' understanding of the distinction between an experiment (one that involves the testing of a hypothesis) and other types of study (i.e., naturalistic).

In the internal assessment, the student is not supposed to attempt to make a groundbreaking psychological discovery, but rather to replicate an earlier, well established psychological study.

Studies RecommendedEdit

First, students must choose an experiment to replicate. The IBO recommends several different studies [1], including:

Students are not bound to replicate one listed above, however.


When conducting the experiment, the IBO demands that certain ethical guidelines be followed[2]. These include:

  • Barring a study that involves discomfort on the part of the participant.
  • Avoiding studies that involve deceiving the participant; if it is unavoidable, consult a psychologist.
  • Informing participants that they may withdraw at any time without pressure.
  • Informing participants of the purpose of the experiment,
  • When children are involved, obtaining written permission from a parent or guardian who has been fully briefed as to the purpose of the experiment,
  • Debriefing participants after the experiment is complete,
  • Being sensitive to cultural differences,
  • Avoiding research where a participant is not in the best mental health to do so.
  • Terminating the experiment if a participant is showing signs of discomfort.


After the experiment has been completed, a written report must be produced detailing the experiment. Below are the guidelines set forth by the IBO as to what should be included in the report[3]:

  • Title Page - title; candidate name and number; subject and level; date, month and year of submission
  • Abstract - summary of aims; summary of methods; summary of results; conclusion
  • Introduction - aim; indentification and explanation of study being replicated
  • Method
    • Design: type and justification of design, controls, ethical considerations, idfentification of variables
    • Participants: characteristics of target population, sampling techniques
    • Materials: list of materials used, reference to copies in appendices
    • Procedures: itemized in sufficient detail to allow full replication
  • Results - interpretation of descriptive statistics; graphs/tables where appropriate (may be computer generated)
  • Discussion - discussion of results; linking of results to study being replicated; identification of strengths and limitations of methodology; suggestions for modification and further research
  • References - works cited within the report
  • Appendices - supplementary information; one copy of instrument(s) used; copy of standardized instructions and debriefing notes

The IB Psychology SL internal assessment report should be between 1000 and 1500 words.


The grading of the internal assessment is based on the report, which is as follows:

  • Criterion A - Introduction; 2 marks
  • Criterion B - design; 2 marks
  • Criterion C - participants, 2 marks
  • Criterion D - procedures; 2 marks
  • Criterion E - Results; 4 marks
  • Criterion F - Discussion; 6 marks
  • Criterion G - Presentation; 2 marks

In total, the IB Psychology SL internal assessment report is worth 20 marks.

External AssessmentEdit

The external assessment, which is administered in May, is the second component of the IB Psychology SL exam. The test is divided into two parts, which are referred to as "papers".

Paper #1Edit

At the standard level, Paper #1 covers three different perspectives on psychology:

There are two parts to Paper #1:

  • Section A consists of three short answer questions, one from each perspective listed above. Students are required to answer each question. This section is worth a total of 24 marks.
  • Section B consists of one long answer question. Students are given the option to choose between one question from the biological perspective, one from the cognitive perspective, and one from the learning perspective. This section is worth a total of 20 marks.

Students are given two hours to complete Paper #1. In total, Paper #1 is worth a total of 44 marks.

Paper #2Edit

At the standard level, Paper #2 covers several different perspectives on psychology:

Three questions are presented in each of these perspectives. Students chose one question from one perspective, and are given one hour to complete a long response on that question. Paper #2 is worth a total of 20 marks.

Overall GradeEdit

Using the internal and external assessment, the IBO calclates a grade value between and including one through seven. A score of four is considered passing; a score of seven is considered outstanding.

Information from IBOEdit

The IBO offers little, if any, information to the general public. Information is available, however, from an IB school's IB coordinator, or an IB Psychology SL instructor.


  1. "Guide to Experiments and Other Research Studies", IB Psychology Internal Assessment, August 1996
  2. IB Psychology Internal Assessment, August 2002
  3. "The Report", Diploma Programme Psychology Teacher Support: Internal Assessment, August 2002
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