Writing samples: Abnormal

The following section includes annotated samples of responses to exam questions - as well as strategies for answering questions based on the command terms. The responses are not from the IB.  They are based on work done in-class by students, or they are created specifically for the site. Often the sample is designed to provide examples of common mistakes. 

There is no definitive list of questions for this curriculum - so the list of potential questions below is not exhaustive.  However, I do believe that most of the questions will fall within the list that has been provided below. Remember that there are no SAQs on Paper 2.

For the ERQ responses, students will need to include two or more pieces of research.

Potential exam questions: Factors influencing diagnosis

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss biological factors influencing diagnosis.
  • Discuss cognitive factors influencing diagnosis
  • Discuss sociocultural factors influencing diagnosis.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the study of factors influencing diagnosis.
  • Discuss approaches to research in the study of factors influencing diagnosis.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in diagnosis.

Content only

  • Discuss the concepts of normality and abnormality.
  • Discuss one classification system of abnormal behaviour.
  • Discuss the role of one or more clinical biases in diagnosis.
  • Discuss the reliability of diagnosis.
  • Discuss the validity of diagnosis.
  • Discuss the validity and reliability of diagnosis.

Potential exam questions: Etiology of abnormal behaviours

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss a biological approach to explaining the aetiology of one disorder.
  • Discuss a cognitive approach to explaining the aetiology of one disorder.
  • Discuss a sociocultural approach to explaining the aetiology of one disorder.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the study the aetiology of disorders.
  • Discuss approaches to research in the study the aetiology of disorders.

Content only

  • Discuss one aetiology of one disorder.
  • Discuss prevalence rates of disorders.

Potential exam questions: Treatment of disorders

All of these learning outcomes are written as "discuss" questions, but they could also be asked as contrast, evaluate and to what extent questions.

Combining topic and guidance

  • Discuss one biological approach to the treatment of disorders.
  • Discuss one cognitive approach to the treatment of disorders.
  • Discuss ethical considerations in the treatment of disorders.
  • Discuss approaches to research in the study of the treatment of disorders.

Content only

  • Discuss one or more biological treatments for one disorder.
  • Discuss one psychological treatment of one disorder.
  • Discuss the role of culture in the treatment of disorders.
  • Discuss the effectiveness of one treatment of one disorder.
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Comments 21

Michael Vincent 26 February 2018 - 20:30

Hello, thanks for all of these questions, when do you anticipate there will be writing samples available? Thanks!

John Crane 27 February 2018 - 05:14

Dear Michael,

I will be writing samples over the summer. My focus during the first year is the core.

Sania Begum 28 February 2018 - 07:16

Dear John,

Will the exams for paper 2 still ask topic and guidance or content only? The recent publication about the core was questions will only be topic or content and not guidance - does this apply for paper 2 to?

John Crane 1 March 2018 - 13:55

Dear Sania,

This is still a bit unclear. What I have been told is that it will either combine topic and guidance - or only content. This is only for Paper 2. It is a major inconsistency in the guide.

Dabalina Chatterjee 4 June 2018 - 15:48

Dear John,
I am little unsure about the number of disorders that need to be prepared like the students can prepare only OCD with etiology, symptoms, treatment- is that so?

John Crane 5 June 2018 - 04:54

Dear Dabalina

Yes. In the new curriculum students only need to prepare one disorder.

Dabalina Chatterjee 26 June 2018 - 09:46

Okay. Thank you. we can choose any one disorder from the guide

Emily Britton 23 July 2018 - 14:17

Dear John, what content from the website would you draw upon to answer the first question in the diagnosis section - "Discuss biological factors that influence diagnosis"? For biological would you assume 'gender' is the bio factor? Critical thinking would be discussing different ways this could be influencing and contrasting with other influences too? Thank you in advance.

John Crane 24 July 2018 - 14:47

Dear Emily

I was told by IB that the final column cannot be used in question setting. So, this question cannot be asked. I know that in the specimen papers there are such questions. We have asked for them to reissue the specimen papers, but to no avail. To be honest, I don't know how to answer the question you have asked. It is not a sensical question to me unless we were to look at genetic screening, for example, for schizophrenia. Sex (rather than gender) could be used, I guess. Knowing the exam setting team well, I really do not believe that they would ever set such a difficult question.

Emily Britton 24 July 2018 - 15:27

Hi John, thank you for your clarification. I was taking the question from this page on Inthinking and was quite scared by it hence me asking you about it. I will assume that the guidance column cannot be used for question setting from now on.

RWA Psychology1 26 July 2018 - 01:28

Dear John,

You have mentioned that the command term "compare" may as well be used in an ERQ. What are some examples of that in abnormal psych? Will the students need to prepare, for example, 2 aetiologies of 1 disorder?

Thank you so much in advance

John Crane 27 July 2018 - 12:15

Dear RWA

Can you point out to me where I wrote that? I would need to fix that. The IB can only ask "contrast" questions, not compare. They could ask, for example, that students "contrast two treatments used with regard to one disorder" or "contrast two etiologies of one disorder."

RWA Psychology1 1 August 2018 - 01:06

Dear John,

Thank you for the clarification. It helped a lot. I had probably mistaken the contrast questions with compare. But if I saw any, I will remind you.

Ian Latham 11 September 2018 - 16:01

Thanks for these essays. They look great. I'm about to spend 2 months on this unit, so can I ask whether essays for etiologies and treatment are likely to appear any time soon? Or will it be after 29th October? Thanks!

John Crane 11 September 2018 - 18:36

Dear Ian,

I am hoping to have the abnormal unit completed by the first week in October. Fingers crossed.

Anindita Bagchi 19 September 2018 - 14:36

Dear Sir,

Is it ok to make students lean the details of any one disorder in Abnormal Psychology special paper.
regards
Anindita Bagchi

John Crane 20 September 2018 - 05:23

Dear Anindita

Students only have to learn one - but it must be from the list of approved disorders: depression, OCD, eating disorders, PTSD, or anxiety disorders.

Liz Cyriac 25 September 2018 - 11:00

Hi John,

To answer the question "Discuss one etiology of one disorder.", can students write about any one of the approaches i.e. biological, cog or sociocultural? Is that how we would approach this question?

John Crane 26 September 2018 - 09:45

Dear Liz,

Yes, that would be an appropriate strategy to answer that question. However, they could also ask for a specific etiology, mixing the approaches in column 3 with the topic in column 1.

Natasha Chan 26 September 2018 - 16:36

Hi John,

Is it correct to say that in the exam students will be asked one essay Q for each topic of Abnormal - so one from factors influencing diagnosis, one from etiologies and one from treatment? So they could potentially revise for 2 topics very well rather than all 3? Thank you!

John Crane 27 September 2018 - 05:10

Dear Natasha

Yes, that is correct.