Writing essays for ib SL psychology papers 1 & 2 . Tips, Tricks, Advice and Warnings. Writing a good essay is a lot like baking a good cake. (And in the case of the IB tests, they want you to bake a cake from scratch.). you need to have the right pieces.
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Tips, Tricks, Advice and Warnings
(And in the case of the IB tests, they want you to bake a cake from scratch.)
In a psychology essay, there are a few things that you absolutely HAVE TO HAVE. These are:
There’s a lot more that goes into an essay, but these are the essential pieces.
You can’t cook even a basic cake without the essentials, like:
In the same way, you can’t write an essay without your necessary pieces.
A piece by piece breakdown.
You should be getting your background knowledge from being in this class. You need to bring background knowledge into every essay you write – think of the things that you’ve learned this year and how they might apply to the question on your paper.
Your background knowledge is like knowing what goes into a cake in the first place – for example, you (hopefully) know that apple seeds and raw garlic have no place in good cakes.
Use CEGM to break up and organize your essay – this way, your paper is more readable and you cover essential topics that IB graders are looking for.
The easiest thing to do is set up CEGM for your paragraphs – have an introduction, a paragraph about cultural considerations, ethics, gender considerations, methods, a conclusion, etc.
Keep in mind that it’s OKAY to have more than one paragraph about a topic, and that sometimes parts of CEGM aren’t enough to make a paragraph out of.
Having a recipe to work from makes baking a cake much easier, right?
It also helps you to keep track of what you have and have not included in your paper – so you don’t run the risk of repeating yourself and ‘spoiling the recipe’.
Could you put these steps in order and cook this cake the right way every time?
That was actually the steps from two cake recipes and a pie recipe mixed together.
In the same way, when you start writing a paper without using some kind of a framework, it’s very easy to accidentally drift into other topics – and start writing a different paper altogether.
Using CEGM as an outline for your essay makes this much less likely to happen – it’s like cooking with your recipe on hand.
Your studies are like flour.
Flour is a necessary component to every cake, but if you use too much, the cake will be inedible. However, you can’t just leave out the flour altogether – without it, your cake will fall apart with no support.
In the same way, your argument in your essay falls apart with no studies to support it. However, if you use too many studies, your essay can get muddled and hard to read.
Have you even eaten a cake that was made with the wrong type of flour? It tastes at best off, and at worst completely inedible.
The same thing happens if you use the wrong studies to support your arguments: when they’re put into the wrong spot, studies can hinder rather than help a good argument.
You know why? There’s this wonderful, magical ingredient:
And your graders can be saved from reading bad papers by a few well-placed all-purpose studies.
This is also advantageous to you – instead of memorizing thirty different studies, you can use a few good all-purpose studies in the same way that you would use thirty specific ones.
Remember, though, that this doesn’tmean you can just learn four or five studies and jam them wherever you please – your all-purpose studies need to fit in wherever you choose to put them.
I know you don’t think you need to know your command terms, but here’s the thing:
YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR COMMAND TERMS.
They are essential to writing your paper correctly.
You slave away, baking like crazy, adding in all the right ingredients and following your recipe and cooking what can only be described as beautiful food.
You finally pull your creation out of the oven, lay it out before the judges, and let them eat.
The judges eat, and they’re amazed by your food.The first one gets up and says to you:
…Oh. How could you miss that? I mean, it was right on the flyer.
You get disqualified from the contest, not because you can’t cook – but because you can’t follow directions.
You could write the most beautiful essay known to mankind for your IB tests, but your grader can’t give you points if you don’t address the right command terms.
Command terms work like guidelines about what you’re supposed to be making in the first place – and if you don’t follow them, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
The difference is the same as the difference between a cake and a pie.
Are both desserts?
Are both delicious?
Can you put fruit in them?
Can you eat them with ice cream?
But are they the same?
Not at all.
Trust us, they are.
State: Give a specific name, value or other brief answer without explanation or calculation.
Discuss: Offer a considered and balanced review that includes a range of arguments, factors or hypotheses. Opinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.
Critical thinking and inventiveness are key.
Remember, IB graders go through hundreds of essays – don’t be generic! You want your paper to stand out – be inventive and creative in your thinking.
IB wants to know that you can be thoughtful and contemplative when it comes to your essays. They don’t want regurgitation – they want synthesis.
Mrs. Savoia has spent the whole year giving you the necessary pieces to write your own essay – but she can’t do it for you.
You need to take the raw ingredients and make something great – you need to bake a cake.
But wait! You forgot something…
You have not finished your essay until you have poked holes!
Your cake isn’t finished until you’ve poked a toothpick through the middle to make sure that it’s cooked all the way through. Sometimes cakes that seems perfectly cooked can be raw in the center – and in the same way your essay can look perfect, but have a poor argument at it’s heart.
It happens to the best of us. Sometimes you can’t think of any arguments to poke holes through – or the argument is too solid for you to poke any holes.
Why not all cakes are created equal.
But something’s missing. Right now, you just have a cake. But you could have something world-shattering, career-making, the kind of cake that people would kill to eat and die to know the recipe for.
Lots of people think this – but it’s not necessarily true. You only need to work on your essay’s more superficial parts – word choice, flow, grammar, spelling, etc. – if they are bad.
And when I say bad I mean the-essay-is-unreadable-because-of-the-errors bad.
Just because you can make it look like you know something doesn’t mean that you do – and no matter how much fluff or how many big words you pepper throughout your paper, IB graders will be able to tell that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Don’t spend all of your time decorating your cake – keep it simple. Graders don’t care as much about what your introduction or your conclusion look like as you think they do – they want to see you demonstrate what you know.
Some general advice.
And everybody writes differently. This isn’t a bad thing!
Would you eat a cake that had only been in the oven for five minutes? No, it’s gross. Don’t turn your essay in after writing only two or three paragraphs – it’s not done, and it’s not going to be pretty to read.
When you get the option to choose your topic, don’t pick one just because it looks easy or like something the grader won’t see a lot – pick a topic that you think you can write an essay on.
But obviously love isn’t an ingredient that you can actually use in a cake – or an essay.
Let’s face it: papers that sound engaging are more fun to read than papers that don’t. People that genuinely enjoy a topic tend to have a lot more fun writing an essay than people that don’t – and that enthusiasm bleeds into their writing.
I know it sounds like completely ridiculous advice, but get comfortable when you write. Don’t stress yourself out on the day of the test – just relax, sit down, and have a little fun while you write your papers.
(And sorry for making you hungry.)