The Perfect Guide to Earn a 7 in your IB Psychology IA

Written By Rashi S.

I was in the graduating class of May 2021. I earned 19/22 for my IB HL Psychology IA draft which is on the Stroop Effect and scored a 7 in the subject. I walk you through the top mark band for each criterion from the most recent IB Psychology Guide in this blog post. I hope it provides you with a thorough understanding of what the IB expects you to write in the IA and what you must do to secure the maximum number of points.

First things First

  1. The IB does not require you to replicate studies. Nevertheless, I recommended you adhere to replicating a study because it has been a well-established and known method in the IB Psychology sector and for simplicity.
  2. Previously, students could use an “effect” as their background theory or model; however, this is no longer possible from May 2021 onward. You must use an actual model or theory instead of an effect (e.g. anchoring effect and Stroop effect) or bias (e.g. confirmation bias). For more information concerning this change, click here.


  • Include a section named ‘Introduction’ in your IA.
  • Explain the major concepts of the theory or model the study is based on. Because my peer and I replicated the Stroop effect, we defined the following: ‘attention,’ ‘selective attention theory’ and the ‘Stroop effect,’ for instance.
  • Briefly touch upon the relevance of the theory if needed.
  • Provide a concise description of the study you are replicating.
  • State the aim of your study.
  • Explain how the aim relates to the theory.
  • Discuss the relevance of the theory or model upon which your investigation is based on in more depth and especially its link to your own investigation in detail.
  • Write what is the independent variable and the dependent variable.
  • Finally, mention the null and experimental hypothesis in extreme detail (usually each hypothesis being 3 – 4 sentences long).
  • Visibly, the mark band is clear to a significant extent and sometimes essentially ‘tells’ you what you must do to earn high marks. Thus, I recommend that you constantly refer to it in your IA writing process.


  • Include a section called ‘Exploration’ in your IA
  • Explicitly state what the mark band requires you to discuss. For instance, ‘The experiment used an X measures design…’
  • State the advantage of using that specific research design, sampling technique, and choice of participants. Moreover, mention anything that you may have considered for the experiment; for example, we asked each participant to confirm that he or she is not colorblind.
  • Discuss all the variables you controlled, providing a reason as to why it was necessary to control them.
  • List all the materials you used for your investigation, providing a short description of each.
  • Finally, list all the steps of your investigation in a numbered list.


  • Conduct the appropriate mathematical test for your study.
  • Descriptive Results:
  • Mention the calculation you performed to highlight the variability and spread of your result with a short description explaining why you performed those tests.
  • Clearly present the results in a table.
  • Discuss the results.
  • Add a graphical representation of the results.
  • Inferential Statistics:
  • Determine the appropriate statistical test you have to use; this depends on the level of measurement of your data and your measures design.
  • Use inferential statistics to draw a conclusion about your research hypothesis.


  • Discuss the connection between your findings and the theory or model, backing it up with your processed data results.
  • Provide a strength and a limitation for the design, sample, and procedure.
  • Explain how you can modify the experiment to improve it in the future, justifying the modifications.

Overall, your IA should have the following format:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Introduction
  3. Exploration
  4. Analysis
  5. Evaluation
  6. Appendices

 Top Tips

  • Add your informed consent form, raw data, and other relevant material to the appendices.
  • Use past tense in your IA
  • Use bold font to highlight some words such as ‘aim,’ ‘independent variable,’ and ‘dependent variable.’

I hope this blog post enriched your understanding regarding what is expected of you in your psychology IA as we unpacked the top mark bands in each criterion. I assure you the IA is easy to do once you understand its true requirements. In any case, my team and I are at your fingertips to help you succeed in the IA. Wishing you good luck!

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