The International Baccalaureate (IB) Psychology exam covers a broad range of topics across papers 1, 2 and 3 (HL only) and requires students to demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding. So, creating an effective, organised, and thoughtful study plan is crucial for your IB Psychology exam preparation. This 4-week IB Psychology study plan is designed to optimise your study time and ensure you're fully prepared to ace your IB Psychology exams.
Week 1: Consolidate IB Psychology Content
Spend the first week reviewing your class notes, textbooks, and other course materials. Identify connections across topic areas by finding studies that apply to multiple themes. For example, HM’s study of patient HM can be used to discuss localisation of function and neuroplasticity (biological approach) as well as models of memory (cognitive approach). Try to find as many of these broadly applicable studies as possible, to minimise the amount of studies you need to memorise.
Then, create detailed outlines for each topic area (for example, localisation of function, or models of memory). A table or dot-point format usually works best, listing key arguments and their corresponding studies (including their aim, participants, method, results and conclusions) and some dot-points evaluating their strengths and limitations. Making sure your notes are complete at this stage will give you a solid foundation going into more practice-focused studying.
Week 2: Enhancing Recall with Flashcards
This week, turn your content outlines into flashcards, a proven IB Psychology study technique. On one side write the name of a study, or a theory/argument. On the other, provide key details like the researcher(s), year, methods, findings, and evaluations. Or, for theories/arguments, some key points to remember. Create colour-coded flashcard categories to easily sort content for papers 1, 2 and 3, and the categories within them (for example, the biological, cognitive and sociocultural approaches).
Using a spaced repetition system, begin studying your flashcards a bit every few days, focusing on the topics you find most difficult to remember. Spaced repetition will boost retention by spreading out review sessions. Digital flashcard apps can help organise and track your repetition schedule.
Week 3: Applying Knowledge Through Practice
Now, you should start applying your knowledge by writing practice responses and using past exam questions (you can make up your own or find questions online).
Attempt full practice short answer questions (SAQs) and extended response questions (ERQs), even if you can’t finish within the time limit initially. Focus on using appropriate studies to support your examples and include thoughtful evaluation points before you move into time-limited practice.
You can also do shorter, focused writing practice for topics you are struggling to remember by summarising arguments or evaluations of individual studies. Continue reviewing your flashcards to ensure you can recall your studies easily.
Week 4: Practice Under Timed Exam Conditions
In the last week before exams, dedicate your time to completing full practice SAQs and ERQs under timed conditions to simulate the exam. Try swapping practice responses with a friend, grading each other’s answers according to the rubric and making notes on areas that need improvement.
Keep following your flashcard repetition schedule right up until the exam. Ensuring your repetition is consistent (even reviewing your flashcards for 15-20 mins a day) will allow you to recall your studies, evaluations and arguments with ease during the exam.
This approach has been found by Learnmate's own studies to be one of the most effective revision strategies and a key to excelling in IB Psychology exams, with some 88% of students surveyed who achieved an ATAR of 99 or above completing practice exams under timed conditions.
This structured four-week plan, which have been practiced by students and confirmed by tutors to include effective IB Psychology exam tips and revision strategies, is designed to guide you toward a confident and successful exam experience.
This blog is the first in a series dedicated to uncovering the essential skills and strategies necessary for excelling this year in IB Psychology. Stay tuned as we continue to explore deeper aspects of this subject, aiming to equip you with a comprehensive toolkit for success.
Ready to tackle your IB Psychology exams with confidence? Explore more expert tips and resources and connect with experienced tutors at Learnmate to start working towards achieving your potential. Share this guide with your peers and start your journey to academic success today!
This blog was written by Claudia Z, an Online IB Tutor on Learnmate. Claudia has been studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Premed) since graduating with a 99.7 ATAR and 44 score in IB. She excelled in the IB program and now tutors students in IB Psychology, English A Literature, Chemistry, French, History and Maths.
You can view her profile and, subject to her availability, request Claudia as your tutor here.