The Paper 2 exam consists of six essay questions, only one of which must be answered during the timed period. The essay is to be written about the Part 3 literary texts. Therefore, it is a test of understanding literature in context. Although the questions will change from exam to exam, they will always focus on the connection between, style, form, author, purpose and audience. Selecting good Part 3 texts is therefore essential.
These pages offer an overview of the requirements, the criteria, sample student work and tips on Paper 2 essay writing. Besides familiarizing yourself with these pages, you will want to study previous exam questions, practice writing under exam conditions and research your literary texts carefully. You can find several activities that help you develop the skills you need for the Paper 2 exam on the 'skills' page.
Although it seems as if a quarter of your IB grade is determined in one brief sitting, in fact you can do a lot to prepare for this exam so that it is not so nerve-racking. Careful planning and a clear strategy are half the battle. What one writes is only the tip of a very large iceberg.
Are you curious to see what Paper 2 questions look like? Here is a sample of questions that represent the kinds of questions that could appear on the exam. They are inspired by the sample questions that appear in the Language A: Language and Literature guide.
Explain how the authors of at least two literary works have portrayed a social group in a particular way. How might the contexts of the authors have influenced their portrayal of these social groups?
It is often said that literature is a voice for social commentary. How is this true of at least two works that you have read.
To what extent can the meaning of a literary work change over time? How does this question apply to at least two works that you have read?
To what degree are readers influenced by their culture and context. Explain how at least two works could be read differently depending on the culture of their audience.
'Coming of age' is a common theme in literary works. With regards to at least two literary works, explain how the author's own youth influenced their portrayal of this theme.
With regards to at least two literary works, explain how the setting both influences the characters and reflects the author's own context.
How are the characters from at least two literary works representational of people from the time and place in which they were written?
Why might two of your Part 3 works be considered 'timeless'?
With regards to two literary texts, explain why authors may have chosen to depict events in a particular sequence or order.
How do two literary works both reflect and challenge the spirit of the times in which they were written?
Language B Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL) are language acquisition courses for students with some previous experience of learning the language. While studying the language, students also explore the culture(s) connected with it.
Higher and standard levels are differentiated by the recommended teaching hours, the depth of syllabus coverage, the required study of literature at HL, and the level of difficulty and requirements of the assessment tasks and criteria.
The range of purposes and situations for using language in the language B courses extends well beyond those for language ab initio.
The course is organized into themes. Three core themes are required: communication and media, global issues, and social relationships. In addition, at both HL and SL, teachers select two more themes from five options provided. Finally, two works of literature are studied at HL only.
Key features of the curriculum and assessment models
- Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
- The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
- Interactive, productive and receptive skills are developed through contextualized study of language, texts and themes
- Intercultural understanding and plurilingualism are key goals of the course
- Students are exposed to a variety of authentic texts and they produce work in a variety of communicative contexts
- Students are assessed both externally and internally
- External assessment at SL consists of exercises to demonstrate understanding of authentic print texts based on the core themes (receptive skills), a writing exercise based on the options (productive skills), and a written assignment based on the core themes (integrating receptive and productive skills)
- External assessment at HL consists of exercises to demonstrate understanding of authentic print texts based on the core themes (receptive skills), two writing exercises, one based on the core and the other based on the options (productive skills), and a written assignment based on one of the literary texts (integrating receptive and productive skills)
- Internal assessment at both SL and HL tests students’ abilities in listening and speaking in a genuine conversation format (integrating receptive, productive and interactive skills). Internal assessment consists of an individual oral based on the options (presentation and discussion with the teacher), and an interactive oral based on the core (three classroom activities assessed by the teacher)
Read about group 3: individuals and societies