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How to write Extended Response Questions in Psychology in IBDP

Updated: Mar 15, 2022


Your IBDP exam consists of Extended Response Questions (ERQs) or Short Response Questions (SRQs), depending on the questions' type, the writing format, and marking criteria changes. Today we will discuss how to write Extended Response Questions in psychology in IBDP.

Extended Response Questions marking criteria

Each of the ERQ answers you write in your IB Psychology exam will consist of 22 marks and be judged against three criteria, out of which critical thinking and knowledge are the most essential. Here are a few crucial tips for ERQ.

  • You can receive a maximum of 9 marks for the criteria mentioned above in each of the ERQs your answer.

  • The total amount of ERQs you get varies; for Standard Level (SL) students, there are 2 ERQs; for Higher Level students, there are 3 ERQs.

  • The 44 (SL) or 66 (HL) marks in IBDP psychology are crucial and can make or break your career.




The examiner's marking criteria explained.

Understanding the examiner's marking criteria will make it easier for you to score the top marks in the ERQ paper.

Knowledge & Comprehension (9 marks): Your answer must show detailed and accurate knowledge and understanding suited to the question. It must use relevant psychological research effectively to support your response to the question.

Evidence of critical thinking: application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (9 marks): Your answer must also integrate relevant definitive, essential evidence of thought in response to your exam question.

Organization (4 marks): Your answer must focus on the question and be well developed and correctly organized.

Structuring the ERQ

A usual ERQ will consist of 6 well-developed paragraphs with an introduction, 3-5 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Of course, your structure may vary according to the question, so keep in mind that the one given here is only a general structure.

Introduction: It is an essential part of the answer as other factors are linked.

  • Start your answer with a hook, thought-provoking question or statement.

  • State the ERQ topic.

  • Describe the problems and issues raised.

  • Explain the topic's importance.

  • State and briefly summarize the knowledge, theories, and research, which you will discuss.

Body paragraph 1 – theory/general knowledge: it continues the answer.

  • Detail a relevant theory.

  • You must evaluate the study, identify and explain any limitations and advantages.

  • Link the evaluation & theory to the topic.

Body paragraph 2 – research evidence: It's a supporting paragraph, which you use to support the theory in the first one.

  • You can either write research evidence that links to the theory in paragraph 1 or give an example.

  • You must write a detailed description of the research study, including the aim, procedure, findings, and conclusion.

  • You must evaluate the research and identify and explain any limitations and advantages.

  • Explain what the study tells.

Body paragraph 3 – theory/general knowledge 2: It is similar to the first paragraph with a second relevant theory or area of expertise.

Body paragraph 4 – research evidence 2: It is similar to body paragraph 2, with a research study supporting the theory area of knowledge from the third paragraph.

Conclusion: It is the closing statement of the answer.

  • Shortly re-state and summarize all of the knowledge, theories, and research you discussed so far.

  • Mention the extent to which the various research studies support each other, ending at the same conclusion via different research methods.

  • Mention if any research studies contradict each other and explain to them if any.

  • Also, mention any probable unconsidered explanations.

  • Mentioned the unanswered questions and how future research can help answer them.

So there you have it, a brief on writing the Extended Research Questions in your psychology IBDP paper. I hope you excel in your exams.


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1 Comment


Shayan Ahmad
Shayan Ahmad
Jan 07, 2023

Thank u very much! this was so helpful because I have mocks and the psych exam is in a couple of days!

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