Should I study IB Psychology?

Are you still deciding on whether to take IB Psychology?

If so, complete this simple quiz below:

1.  My future career will most likely involve working with people.
2.  I plan to be in a long-term romantic relationship someday.
3.  I would like to understand myself better.
4.  There are at least 4 people in the world I care about.
5.  I want to make the world a better place.

Did you circle at least one YES?  If so, you should take IB Psych!

YES            NO
YES            NO
YES            NO
YES            NO
YES            NO
Consider the following:

  • Most careers in the 21st century involve teamwork and co-operation with others.  Psychology can help you understand what motivates people in the workplace, how people make decisions, and how groups can either flourish or flounder.

  • Divorce rates are over 50% in some parts of the world.  Relationship Psychology investigates the keys to a long-lasting relationship, which can help you maintain a warm and loving marriage over the long haul.

  • Current estimates are that 1 in 4 people will suffer from a psychological disorder at some point in their life.  If there are 4 people in the world you care about, chances are that one (or more) of them will suffer from a disorder - and your knowledge of Psychology could help you be more understanding and supportive.

Of course, we're just slightly biased, but we believe that nearly everyone will benefit from taking IB Psychology.  But we realize it may be a tough decision for you, because there are lots of other great IB subjects to choose from.  In practice, the people who take IB Psychology usually fall into one of these three groups:

  1. You aspire to a career in Psychology. Perhaps, you want to be a clinical psychologist, a counselor, or a brain scientist.  If that's the case, then taking IB Psychology is a bit of a no-brainer.  Although IB Psychology may not be a requirement for all university Psych programs, having two years of Psych backgound will give you a very useful head start!
  2. You want to work in a people-oriented career. Lots of careers require a good understanding of people.  Teachers need to understand how their students learn best.  Advertisers need to know the best ways to sell their product.  Doctors need to convince their patients to lose weight and attend regular checkups.  These are just some examples of how Psychology is useful for a wide variety of people-oriented careers.
  3. You don't know what you want to do - and Psychology sounds interesting. Its okay - you don't have to have it all figured out when you're just 16.  If you're still unusure of your future plans, Psychology is a great choice.  Because no matter where you go or what you end up doing in life, Psychology is going to be useful.  Most of us will never need to remember the causes of the French Revolution, how to integrate a polynomial, or how to do organic Chemistry once we leave high school - but everyone can benefit from a better understanding of people.

Okay, okay...but what's taking IB Psychology actually like?  How hard is it?  What are the good and bad points of the course?  After teaching IB Psychology to dozens of students, these are the things they tell me:

The good:

  • Psychology classes are interesting.  You get to study things like romantic relationships, the adolescent brain, violence, crime, and happiness.  Stuff that actually matters in real life.

  • Getting a good grade isn't rocket science.  As long as you study regularly, and keep organized, you can do very well in the course.

  • Psychology has wide appeal and usefulness.  Whether you want to be a business executive, a doctor, or a social worker (or pretty much anything else!), Psychology can be useful

The bad:

  • You need to remember a lot of content - especially, lots of research studies.  If you don't make an effort to learn the material over time, you'll really struggle to cram everything the night before the test

  • Psychology involves lots of essay writing.  You'll need to write non-stop for 2 hours on your final exam.  Better have good writing skills, or work really hard to develop your essay writing techniques.

At the end of the day, if the study of Psychology interests you, then it's an excellent choice.  Because in IB, you're going to have to study hard, no matter what subject you choose.  So might as well choose to study something that you enjoy and care about.  On that note, if you have an hour to spare, take a look at this video from Paul Bloom, a professor of Psychology at Yale, in which he gives an overview of some of the most fascinating topics in Psych. If you find the video interesting, that's a good reason to sign up for IB Psychology.