Relax. (written in pink, which is scientifically proven to be a relaxing colour. Also baby blue. But I digress...)
The Nardvark is here to set your cray-cray mind at ease with:
Last Minute Tips to Excel on IB English Literature Paper 2
Or, rather, Nardvark will eat a PBJ (pretzel, broccoli, and jalapeno peppers sandwich) while the Nerdvark does all the hard work of giving you tips. Either way, you're the winner. Read on:
|Unfortunately for the Nardvark, you have to write Paper 2 on at least two of the texts you studied in Part 3 of IB English Literature (Literary Genres)|
- Paper 2 consists of a bunch of questions. Your task is to write an essay in answer to one of the questions which addresses TWO OF THE WORKS YOU STUDIED IN PART 3 of the course.
- To prepare for Paper 2, you need to do two things: 1. Review all your notes on your Part 3 works. 2. Review how to write an essay.
- I would actually recommend re-reading your Part 3 works, or at least skimming through them, in preparation for Paper 2.
- When you go into Paper 2, you need to time yourself. One great way to get a totally low, crappy mark on this paper is to randomly choose a question off the exam paper and scribble down your stream-of-thought answer as fast as you can and then nap for the remainder of the exam period. You are given a short amount of time to produce a brilliant essay; use it fully and follow the writing process.
- Spend the first few moments selecting a question. This exam paper seems daunting because there are so many questions to choose from. Make it easier on yourself by first ELIMINATING all the questions you will not be able to choose from. That is to say, Part 3 of the IB English Literature course is on a specific genre -- defined as poetry, prose - novel and short story, prose - other than fiction, and drama. Whichever genre you studied, that's what you have to answer a question on in Paper 2. So either
cross offall the questions for the other three genres, or put a big circle around the questions for your genre. There, that reduces the exam paper to something a lot more manageable, does it not?
- Spend the next several minutes CONSIDERING THE QUESTIONS for your genre. Think about each question and figure out exactly what it is asking you to do. Criterion B, worth 20% of your overall mark for Paper 2, is "Response to the Question." So make sure you understand what the question is asking you to do before you begin your response.
- Here is a sample of a Paper 2 question on poetry from the IB board:
|A sample of a Paper 2 question on poetry from the IB board, which I easily found by Googling.|
- Let's analyze this question. First, what kind of essay is it asking you to write? Answer: discussion. Some questions might ask you to analyze, evaluate, or explain. Pay attention to the question word. Next, what is the topic? Answer: "the object of a poem is pleasure, not truth." So think about the poems you have studied. Do at least two of them appear to be written for pleasure rather than to demonstrate a truth of the world? Jot down some ideas in the margin of the question paper.
- Analyze each of the questions in your genre like this before deciding which question you will answer.
- Spend the next few minutes (5 - 10 minutes) OUTLINING/PLANNING your essay. Criterion A is for "Knowledge and Understanding," so you need to spend some time coming up with everything you know/understand about the two texts you'll be discussing and jot it down in point form. Criterion D is for "Organization and Development," so you'll want to plan out your essay instead of just rambling on, and you'll want to jot down all the ideas you will use to develop your points so you don't forget anything.
- Spend approximately 50% of your time (one out of two hours for HL and 45 minutes out of 1.5 hours for SL) DRAFTING your essay. I recommend double-spacing so you'll have enough space to add to or correct your work.
- Spend the rest of your time REVISING and then PROOFREADING your essay. Check that you've included enough information to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the works and that your writing is well-organized and flows. Criterion E is "Language," so you'll want to make sure your writing is clear, precise, and concise, your punctuation, grammar, and spelling is correct, and you've used the appropriate literary terms. It is totally acceptable to add to your essay, cross stuff off, or change things. If you want to add a whole bunch of stuff, like a whole paragraph, put in a little indicator like a star (*) where you want to add it, and then put the same indicator after the conclusion and add your extra paragraph. You will not lose marks for having stuff crossed out or added, but you will lose marks for not expressing yourself clearly, making mistakes, and writing incorrect stuff about the works. You will also lose marks for not answering the question, i.e. writing something totally unrelated to what the question is actually asking. So spend some time revising and proofreading to make sure your essay is brilliant.
I would also recommend doing a practice paper to get your pacing down. You probably haven't written very many essays, especially ones that you do by hand and have a limited time for. If you write at least one practice paper and limit yourself to doing it in the allotted time, you'll feel a lot more prepared on exam day.
Are you taking IB English and need some help with your studying? No need to reread all the books and poems you covered in class! This study guide is for IB English A students (students in IB English A: literature SL/HL, IB English A: language and literature SL/HL, or IB English literature and performance SL) who are looking for additional guidance on writing their commentaries or essays.
I've compiled this IB English study guide using the best free materials available for this class. Use it to supplement your classwork and help you prepare for exams throughout the school year.
What’s Tested on the IB English Exams?
The IB English courses are unique from other IB classes in that they don't have a very rigid curriculum with exact topics to cover. Instead, your class (or most likely your teacher) is given the freedom to choose what works (from a list of prescribed authors and a list of prescribed literature in translation from IBO) to teach. The exams reflect that freedom.
On the exam for all English A courses, you’re asked to write an essay (or essays) that incorporates examples from the novels you read. You’re also asked to interpret text (typically poetry, though sometimes an excerpt from a book) that you read for the first time the day of the exam. The exact number of questions varies by the course, but the types of questions asked on each all fall into the two categories listed above.
What’s Offered in This Guide?
In this guide, I have compiled materials to help teach you how to interpret poetry and how to structure your essay/commentary. I've also provided notes on several books typically taught in IB English SL/HL. This should be all of the material you need to study for your IB exam and to study for your in-class exams.
How to Interpret Poetry Guides
Many people struggle the most with the poetry material, and if you're one of those people, we have some resources specifically for making poetry questions easier. Here is a full explanation of how to interpret poetry for the IB exam with term definitions, descriptions of types of poems, and examples. This is another great resource with poetry terms defined on “flashcards”, and you can test yourself on the site by clicking play. Also, here are two additional step-by-step guides to analyzing poetry and planning and writing the commentary.
How to Write Your Essay Guide
If you're not sure how to write your essay, here's a guide to what you essay should look like for the IB English SL/HL papers. This guide gives advice on how you should structure your essay and what you should include in it. It also contains a few sample questions so you can get a better idea of the types of prompts you can expect to see.
IB English Book Notes
Based on the list of prescribed authors and literature from IBO, I picked some of the most popular books to teach and provided links to notes on those works. What's important to remember from these books is key moments, themes, motifs, and symbols, so you can discuss them on your in-class tests and the IB papers.
The Best Study Practices for IB English
Hopefully, this guide will be an asset to you throughout the school year for in-class quizzes as well as at the end of the year for the IB exam. Taking practice tests is also important, and you should also look at our other article for access to FREE IB English past papers to help you familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked by the IBO (and I’m sure your teacher will ask similar questions on your quizzes).
Make sure you're reading all of the novels and poetry assigned to you in class, and take detailed notes on them. This will help you remember key themes and plot points so you don't find yourself needing to reread a pile of books right before the exam.
Finally, keep up with the material you learn in class, and don't fall behind. Reading several novels the week before the IB exam won’t be much help. You need to have time and let the material sink in over the course of the class, so you’re able to remember it easily on the day of the IB exam.
Want some more study materials for IB English? Our guide to IB English past papers has links to every free and official past IB English paper available!
Are you hoping to squeeze in some extra IB classes? Learn about the IB courses offered online by reading our guide.
Not sure where you want to go to college? Check out our guide to finding your target school. Also, figure out your target SAT score or target ACT score.
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