IB Psychology IA - Learn How To Nail Your Upcoming IA!

The IB Psychology IA Guide Will Cover - Psychology IA Rubric, Process' Key Pointer. The Structure of Your Psychology IA Investigation - All These Are Crucial For Your Psychology IA Success!

Adya Sharma
13 OCT 2021
ib psychology ia

You'd know how they say IB Psychology is an easy curriculum only to realize lessons later that it is an ocean in itself. The vast course requiring you to learn many case studies and theories can be termed anything but easy. More so, when it comes to IB Psychology IA rubrics, unless you have the proper guidance, it can quickly become a nightmare!


Worry not! 


Here's an IB Psychology IA guide to show you step by step how to write your IB Psychology IA. Before you, we present the only IB Psychology IA checklist you will ever need to complete your IB Psychology IA!


First and foremost, you might want to check out the link to our How To Score A 7 In IB Psychology IA - Webinar 2020 held last November. Hear an experienced Psychology IBDP Instructor - Paulomi Choudhury, share valuable pointers for the IB Psychology IA, and get that Psychology Internal Assessment rolling!


There is little to no concrete information available on how one needs to go about one's IB Psychology IA. While pursuing a study of one's interest should do the trick, it is usually of no use if one's IA doesn't meet IB's requirements. This article will guide you first to understand and then eventually implement those guidelines to nail your Internal Assessment.


Before we move any further, you must note that the IB Psychology IA rubric has seen a change since M19(May ‘19 examinations) in terms of the Introduction and Evaluation criteria, i.e., A student can score well without necessarily replicating an original work/study. But since replicating a study is a tried and tested formula, you are recommended to adhere to it.


This article includes -

  1. Important points regarding the IB Psychology IA Rubrics
  2. Structure of the IB Psychology IA


Moving on, let's explore some important points regarding the IB Psychology IA rubrics that will help you get a clearer picture of the exploration IB expects you to prepare:

  • IB Psychology IA for SL weighs 25% of the overall score. Simultaneously, for IB HL Psychology IA, the weightage is only 20% since the HL curriculum includes an additional Paper 3 comprising three short answer questions on research approaches. 
  • The IB guidelines require you to replicate a study with only one Independent and one Dependent Variable. You could also possibly modify original research, thereby focusing on only one Independent and one Dependent Variable. The IB has strict guidelines for the number of Independent and Dependent variables, and you should take extra care since identifying variables in a study can often get confusing.
  • The Experimental Investigation is supposed to be conducted in groups of 2-4 students only. This means that the group will be coordinating with regards to the procedure, materials list, and the data collection and compilation only. You should write the reports individually, and though the IAs of a group could be similar, they should not be identical in any case. 
  • The syllabus guide for Psychology IA also highlights which variables are not suitable for the investigation(quasi-experiments), and you should hence refrain from taking them up. These variables are based upon pre-existing characteristics of the participants, and you should not include them. A few Independent Variables that should not be included while making the report are (not an exhaustive list):
    1. Age
    2. Gender
    3. Native Language
    4. Culture
    5. Education Level
    6. Socio-Economic Status
    7. Handedness.
  • The following experiments are also not allowed by IB:
    1. Animal Experiments
    2. Placebos
    3. Deprivation studies(example, sleep, food)
    4. Ingestion or Inhalation
    5. Using children under 12 as participants


The word limit should not exceed 1500 for SL and 2000 for HL.


Now that we've gone through these important points let's discuss the structure and the components of your Psychology Internal Assessment.

  • Criterion 1 - Introduction (6 marks):
    • Drafting a strong Introduction is vital to the entire report. Following the marking scheme will ensure you cover all that the Introduction of your Investigation is expected to. 
      • Let's break it down into points, shall we?
        • Give context: Background of the concept/theory stated and explained in detail.
        • Define important terminology used in the investigation.
        • The Aim, Procedure, and Results of the replicated Original Study described briefly and cited. 
        • Establish a link between your investigation and the Theory you're replicating(if possible, do it explicitly).
        • State the aim of your experiment: Aim should be concise, briefly outlining what you wish to accomplish with your study, highlighting the Independent Variable and the Dependent Variable.
        • Explain the relevance of your study(give an application of the same).
        • State and operationalize the Independent and Dependent Variables in the Experimental Hypothesis.
        • Null Hypothesis.  
  • Criterion 2 - Exploration (4 marks):
    • One of the most manageable parts to score in, if you understand how IB expects you to go about the Exploration component of your IA, you're sure to get marked well! Exploration refers to the how of the investigation. How you are doing your research, the list of materials you're using along with the relevant justification, and so on. All in all, this section expects you to justify the decisions your group took while replicating the study.
      • Let's understand this component in points too:
        • Identify, Mention, and Explain the design and sampling technique used in your study. Generally, Independent Samples design(two or more groups subject to varying conditions) finds use more often, but Repeated Samples design is an equally important design technique. It would be best to have valid reasons for having opted for the particular design technique you do. 
        • Along similar lines, mention and explain why you chose a particular sampling technique for your study. The most commonly used sampling technique for IA experiments is an Opportunity Sample, but it is essential to justify your choice of the sampling technique used in either case. 
        • Next, make sure you explain the choice of participants in your study.
        • Ensure you explain the confounding and controlled variables and state their influence on the study.
        • List the materials and explain your choice. 
        • When you write the procedure in points or as a paragraph, remember to describe each step on the go. 
        • The critical part that examiners look for in your report is the proof of your study being ethical. It is best to explicitly mention how the participants filled the Informed Consent Form and reference the appendix with the same copies (inclusive of Consent Forms, Briefs, and Debriefs).
  • Criterion 3 - Analysis (6 marks):
    • This component of your report showcases your interpretation of the data. This is considered a challenging part since students fail to apply accurate statistics for their data, thereby losing maximum marks in this section. Below mentioned are the steps you must follow to guarantee you're on the safe side. 
    • You are required to apply both Descriptive and Inferential Statistics appropriately (Read that again).
    • For Descriptive Statistics, you should give one measure of central tendency(mean, median, mode) and one measure of dispersion(standard deviation, variance, range, semi-interquartile range). 
    • While Descriptive Statistics is used to organize the data, Inferential Statistics is used to infer and draw conclusions about the study/theory. 
    • Remember, the statistics used need to be stated in words and linked to the hypothesis. 
    • A labelled Graph should be correctly presented, and the hypotheses properly addressed (You must graph the data).
    • Highlight the importance of your data concerning the hypothesis.
    • The top band criteria require you to interpret the statistical findings in the context of the study's data.
  • Criteria 4 - Evaluation (6 marks):
    • Evaluation is another component where students error quite often. Evaluation of your study implies mentioning its Strengths and Limitations. There are quite a few pointers you need to take extra care of while writing the Evaluation, as given below:
      • Investigation's findings should be referred to as the background theory/model and not just the hypothesis. Linking the results to the replicated study is not as crucial as is relating it to the Theory. Most students fail at this part and lose marks.
      • Now comes discussing the Strengths and Limitations and stating Modifications, if any, in the following three: 
        1. the Research Design,
        2. the Sample, and 
        3. the Procedure
      • Emphasize the explanation and justification.
      • While discussing the Strengths and Limitations of the Research Design, be sure you don't confuse it with the experiment's procedure. You might want to keep the following points in mind while doing so:
        1. Impact on the study, had you used a different research design.
        2. Limitations of the Design used.
        3. While listing the modification for every limitation stated, explain how it would benefit your study. 
      • Similarly, for the Sample, try tackling the following:
        1. How might particular characteristics have influenced the experiment?
        2. Do not write - Sample Size should be larger, as a modification.
        3. Highlight the strengths of the sampling technique used by you. 
      • Finally, discuss all the three(Strengths, Limitations, and Modifications) for your Procedure.
        1. Discuss in light of the time used by your group to carry out the study, the materials used, the procedure(whether it was standardized), et cetera.
        2. Do not, in any case, mention significant mistakes in your procedure. If you assess there are any such errors, try rectifying them instead of saying them.


Note that there is no point in giving generic modifications as they would not be directly relevant to your investigation. 


Before summarizing the criteria mentioned above, let's also go through other necessary (but less spoken of) aspects of your investigation.



  • The way you structure and present your investigation plays an essential role in getting you a top score. Some vital information that goes right at the top before your introduction includes:
    1. Title of the study.
    2. Student details - Name, Alphanumeric Code, etc.
    3. Submission date, Number of Words, etc.
    4. Table of Contents with relevant headings.
    5. Works Cited (Page)
      • Mention citations in the text, and necessarily include works cited page that shows your work's transparency. Academic Honesty is something IB is very strict and particular about, and your investigation should reflect the honesty of your work.
      • Citation is essential for any investigation.
        • Both APA Bibliography and MLA citation formats are acceptable. 
    6. Appendices: This section roughly includes:
      • Raw Data used in your study.
      • Calculations used for Statistical Data
      • Blank Consent Form (as per the ethical document standards)
      • Standardized instructions
      • Brief and Debrief scripts (as per the ethical document standards)
      • Materials used


And that's all for now!


We hope this article helped clear all your queries regarding the IB Psychology IA rubrics and wish it serves as a foundation for your Psychology IA journey. Unless you understand what the IB expects from your Psychology Investigation, writing an IA will only seem harder than it really is. We tried to take you through the process step by step while keeping in context the standard IB guidelines.


Before we wrap it up, we highly recommend you to watch our How To Score A 7 In IB Psychology IA- Webinar 2020 as there is no one better than an IBDP examiner to guide you through the process. 


Also, as Paulomi Choudhury herself mentioned, you don't have to go looking for topics elsewhere. Your Oxford Course Companion has many theories you could replicate, and what better than the studies included in your curriculum? 


So, it's a wrap!


Want some A-quality guidance? Look no further; at Nail IB, we have assembled premium content for you to ace your IBs, and you might want to check out our resources for a smooth IB experience. Click here for top-notch IB resources or here to assess how your prep is going! 


We hope this article will serve as a foundation for you to get going on that IB Psychology IA Investigation of yours!

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