Top tips for answering SAQs

The keys to doing well in SECTION A are …

  • Answer all of the questions. There are no choices on this section of the exam. You will have to answer one biological, one cognitive and one sociocultural short-answer question.
  • Write an answer that is around 350 words.
  • Read the question carefully; note the command term
  • Begin your SAQ with a direct response to the question. For example, if you are asked to describe one evolutionary argument for one behaviour, then start with “Evolution may be used to explain why we are attractive to some people and not to others.” There is NO introduction to this response. It is not an essay.
  • Define any terms that are required to answer your question. 
  • Provide ONE piece of research (a study) unless specifically asked for two. You should cite the researcher(s) by name, if you can;t remember the date its not a major problem but knowing the decade gives historical context.
  • Always outline the aim, procedure, findings and conclusions of any study that you use to support your response, BUT….
  • Always work hard to directly link what you say about the study to the demands of the question asked
  • Always consider your closing sentence; when you have finished, read the question again and ensure that your last sentence links back to the question and demonstrates to the examiner that you really have addressed exactly what the question was asking for.
  • Learn your material thoroughly and precisely
  • Don’t rush. You have up to 22 minutes to write a response. Use the full amount of time to plan and write your SAQ.
  • If the question asks for one example of research or a theory, NEVER write more than one – even in an introduction. You are ALWAYS marked on your first example. Many students worldwide lose a lot of credit for not following this simple direction.
  • Do not write a long introduction. Directly answer the question.