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Tips for writing A1 Essays - Paper 1, Paper 2 and WL1

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#1
teresad

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My classmate sent me this for tomorrows exam and I found it to be most helpful, so I wanted to share it with you guys :sadnod:

A good way is to discuss the following for both prose and poetry:

· The five W’s – What? Who? When? Where? Why?
· Ambiguities
· Diction
· Imagery
· Tone
· Mood
· Structure
· Pattern
· Voice
· Syntax

Prose-specific:

· Plot
· Narrative point of view
· Characterization
· Chronology (Use of time)
· Setting
· Paragraphing

Poetry-specific:
· Layout
· Stanzas
· Metre
· Sound

Organization of Time:

30 minutes – Read the passage, over and over again until you feel confident about the passage and have absorbed its contents. Then analysis and structure your commentary with a thesis statement.

Exemplary Thesis Statement: A’s work B shows C through the following devices D to achieve overall effect(s) E.

Outline:
Introduction – Opener containing author and title. Discuss the main issues of your commentary, e.g. devices, in such a way that you are “attempting” to understand the meaning of the work (e.g. the overall effect). Do not present yourself in such a manner that you seem entirely self-assured in the introduction, but rather you have noticed something and plan to explore it further through the commentary. Conclude with the thesis statement.

Literary devices #1 (e.g. Structure, Diction, Imagery) – Open with the general intent of the paragraph – e.g. A uses archaic diction to rectify the Victorian setting. Then, discuss the evidence for this, showing the effects of these devices and the author’s intention with this. The closing sentence should present what device you were exploring and the overall effect you feel this had for the passage, and in its heightening of the “overall effect and intentions” of the passage.

Repeat this for every group of literary devices, mentioning all the relevant devices and aspects (see previous lists).

Conclusion – state that extent of the effect’s effectiveness. Then state the devices that contributed. Then conclude with a clincher.

90 minutes – Write, using proof from the text, in accordance with your previously made outline. Discuss the effects of the devices and show “professional” personal interpretation. Ensure that your vocabulary is eloquent and coherently verbose.

Tips:

1. The structure of your commentary is probably the single most important way of gaining (and losing marks). Write a strong Introduction and Conclusion (in a similar format as previously described) and ensure that every body paragraph has a strong opener with the intent of the paragraph and a clincher which emphasizes the addition to meaning that the devices provide. This is incredibly easy to do - but if forgotten, it will make a difference in your grade.

2. ‘So what?’ mentality – every single device you mention should have you thinking “So what?” what does this device do for the passage? How does it contribute to the overall effect or meaning? This will strengthen your discussion of the effects (key for HL). If you cannot mention the effect or the significance DO NOT mention the device!

3. Do not seem definitive, rather seem to “struggle” – use words like ‘perhaps’, ‘seems to’, etc, to ensure that you do not say “This is what the poem is, take it or leave it.” The examiner has most definitely read the passage well and will not be pleased to see a butchering of the text, which is definitive (and most likely pompous in their eyes). Also, this will allow you to point out the text’s ambiguities and describe their significance.

4. Use ‘the reader,’ ‘the audience,’ and possibly even ‘we’ to reinforce the reader.

5. Do not state the obvious – show your thought process and analysis. Example, in commenting on a passage from Life of Pi, where the author mentions the tiger and child are scared:

“link 1: the boat is sinking and tiger is too (obviously)
link 2: the tiger is scared (clearly implied by text)
link 3: fear is an emotion, therefore the tiger is experiencing human emotions (low level thinking)
link 4: if the tiger is experincing human emotions, the author is trying to humanize the tiger (slightly higher level thinking)
link 5: why is the author humanizing the tiger? perhaps the tiger is supposed to be a metaphor for a concept (higher level thinking)
link 6: what is the concept and what are the author's reasons? (thesis statement)
link 7: since these emotions are humans, there is personification going on (more higher level thinking).

An example of an explication written for a timed exam (non-IB specific):

The Fountain

Fountain, fountain, what do you say
Singing at night alone?
"It is enough to rise and fall
Here in my basin of stone."

But are you content as you seem to be
So near the freedom and rush of the sea?
"I have listened all night to its laboring sound,
It heaves and sags, as the moon runs round;
Ocean and fountain, shadow and tree,
Nothing escapes, nothing is free."

—Sara Teasdale (American, l884-1933)


As a direct address to an inanimate object "The Fountain" presents three main conflicts concerning the appearance to the observer and the reality in the poem. First, since the speaker addresses an object usually considered voiceless, the reader may abandon his/her normal perception of the fountain and enter the poet's imaginative address. Secondly, the speaker not only addresses the fountain but asserts that it speaks and sings, personifying the object with vocal abilities. These acts imply that, not only can the fountain speak in a musical form, but the fountain also has the ability to present some particular meaning ("what do you say" (1)). Finally, the poet gives the fountain a voice to say that its perpetual motion (rising and falling) is "enough" to maintain its sense of existence. This final personification fully dramatizes the conflict between the fountain's appearance and the poem's statement of reality by giving the object intelligence and voice.

The first strophe, four lines of alternating 4- and 3-foot lines, takes the form of a ballad stanza. In this way, the poem begins by suggesting that it will be story that will perhaps teach a certain lesson. The opening trochees and repetition stress the address to the fountain, and the iamb which ends line 1 and the trochee that begins line 2 stress the actions of the fountain itself. The response of the fountain illustrates its own rise and fall in the iambic line 3, and the rhyme of "alone" and "stone" emphasizes that the fountain is really a physical object, even though it can speak in this poem.

The second strophe expands the conflicts as the speaker questions the fountain. The first couplet connects the rhyming words "be" and "sea" these connections stress the question, "Is the fountain content when it exists so close to a large, open body of water like the ocean?" The fountain responds to the tempting "rush of the sea" with much wisdom (6). The fountain's reply posits the sea as "laboring" versus the speaker's assertion of its freedom; the sea becomes characterized by heavily accented "heaves and sags" and not open rushing (7, 8). In this way, the fountain suggests that the sea's waters may be described in images of labor, work, and fatigue; governed by the moon, these waters are not free at all. The "as" of line 8 becomes a key word, illustrating that the sea's waters are not free but commanded by the moon, which is itself governed by gravity in its orbit around Earth. Since the moon, an object far away in the heavens, controls the ocean, the sea cannot be free as the speaker asserts.

The poet reveals the fountain's intelligence in rhyming couplets which present closed-in, epigrammatic statements. These couplets draw attention to the contained nature of the all objects in the poem, and they draw attention to the final line's lesson. This last line works on several levels to address the poem's conflicts. First, the line refers to the fountain itself; in this final rhymed couplet is the illustration of the water's perpetual motion in the fountain, its continually recycled movement rising and falling. Second, the line refers to the ocean; in this respect the water cannot escape its boundary or control its own motions. The ocean itself is trapped between landmasses and is controlled by a distant object's gravitational pull. Finally, the line addresses the speaker, leaving him/her with an overriding sense of fate and fallacy. The fallacy here is that the fountain presents this wisdom of reality to defy the speaker's original idea that the fountain and the ocean appear to be trapped and free. Also, the direct statement of the last line certainly addresses the human speaker as well as the human reader. This statement implies that we are all trapped or controlled by some remote object or entity. At the same time, the assertion that "Nothing escapes" reflects the limitations of life in the world and the death that no person can escape. Our own thoughts are restricted by our mortality as well as by our limits of relying on appearances. By personifying a voiceless object, the poem presents a different perception of reality, placing the reader in the same position of the speaker and inviting the reader to question the conflict between appearance and reality, between what we see and what we can know.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT:
The writer observes and presents many of the most salient points of the short poem, but she could indeed organize the explication more coherently. To improve this explication, the writer could focus more on the speaker's state of mind. In this way, the writer could explore the implications of the dramatic situation even further: why does the speaker ask a question of a mute object? With this line of thought, the writer could also examine more closely the speaker's movement from perplexity (I am trapped but the waters are free) to a kind of resolution (the fountain and the sea are as trapped as I am). Finally, the writer could include a more detailed consideration of rhythm, meter, and rhyme.



Hope this helps,
best regards from Teresa in Iceland

#2
Sandwich

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Paper 1
Paper 2
WL1
Literary features

Useful Links (cribbed off sweetnsimple786, thanks!)
World Literature 1 Marking Criteria
World Literature 2 Marking Criteria

Other Links (posted by Julie)
Literary Analysis and Writing Technical Points

Tips for Writing A1 Unseen Commentaries (Paper 1)

1. Learn how YOU work best
Unless you've sussed it out for yourself already, your aim throughout the two years of IB should be to establish how you best approach this sort of essay. Everybody prefers to deal with it differently and has their own style -- the ultimate aim for anybody is to produce an essay with a cohesive, well-supported argument, a sound structure, doesn't skip any major points and can be completed within the allotted time. Simple, right?
There are two major areas in which people differ. The first is planning. How much time do you personally need to plan? Some people like to invest a massive amount of their time into it (e.g. for a 2 hour paper at HL they might spend half an hour or more planning it) and some people much less time, for instance 5 or 10 minutes. Obviously some has to take place as you have to read the poem and formulate an argument; whether you then choose to go straight ahead and start writing (usually to maximise the amount you can write down and give yourself leeway to change things) or whether you like to plan out exactly what you're going to say when (to make sure you have a good structure and are focussed), it's not a big deal. You have to work out for yourself what the optimum sort of time is going to be.
The second area is the style in which you deal with the text. This can either be done by theme (and incidentally tends to pair well with somebody who plans a lot) in which major points of discussion are stuck into dedicated paragraphs, or line-by-line which is literally dealing with the text in a linear fashion and therefore tends to require a lot less forethought. Each of these has its weaknesses -- for the former you can easily find yourself spotting something you should've discussed earlier but will then need to break your structure in order to include. You're less likely to come across things as you're writing, can write comparatively 'shallow' essays (i.e. less deep analysis) and of course you do need to plan things like crazy. An acronym often related to this is SCASI (Setting/Character/Action/Style/Ideas), where you do roughly a section of your essay on each of those. Weaknesses related to the line-by-line are largely time management (you end up writing a lot more) and making sure you pick up on overarching themes as well as structuring it in a cohesive manner.
Use any practice commentaries you do to test these out! Which do you prefer? More importantly, with which of these methods/time distributions do you get the best results grades-wise? You might be at an extreme or somewhere in the middle, but you're going to have a style which suits you and it's extremely important you're secure and confident in your personal approach before you enter the exam. On a final note, a lot of teachers will tell you that there's only one way to write a commentary. This is wrong. I've seen 7s with good employment of both these styles and the examiners will reward essays which fulfil the marking criteria, not your teacher's favourite way of doing it.

2. Don't pick between poetry/prose in advance
This might seem reasonably obvious, but there is a considerable chance that the poem/prose which comes up will not be to your liking. With the poetry you might not understand it... and with the prose you might not really see what there is to write. There are exceptions to this rule, some people know what they're doing and can go for their favourite every time, but as a general rule if you don't know 100% that you are an exception (and you'll know, trust me!) my advice is to practice both. Don't pick prose or poetry prior to seeing what they are like, that's a pretty crazy tactic because you're taking away your own options!

3. Have a line of argument
This gives your essay purpose, direction and is something for you to constantly refer back to. It's easier to do an analysis if you treat the whole essay as building up the case for WHY your analysis is correct. Imagine that you've announced "this poem is about X and now I'm going to show you why". This way you'll analyse, you'll give examples and you'll have cohesion because your essay will keep returning to the same central points. At no point in the exam should you be sitting scratching your head wondering where on earth to go next. You have an introduction (your declaration and brief overview of why you believe X to be the case) and a conclusion (briefly how you believe you've proved it to be so). Excellent stuff, having a line of argument.

4. Make sure your argument makes sense
If I am correct, in the USA and some other places, they call an argument a thesis statement. Whatever. Call it what you like, it is extremely important that you project your own 'vision' or interpretation of the poetry/prose. What this does NOT under any circumstances mean is that you see one bit of a line, think "ooo I like that idea!" and start inventing things or deciding that the word 'interpretation' is some kind of arty excuse for making mystical-sounding comments. World Literature is an analytical subject at heart, and whilst there's no technical right and wrong in that several versions of something can be correct, there's definitely a wrong and the word for that is misinterpretation. You do not want to misinterpret the whole thing. Some people are lucky and will never misinterpret because it comes naturally to them; for other people, no worries, there is a litmus test. Decide what you think the main theme of the poem/prose is and then with your decision in mind, and prior to writing anything, go through the whole text and think at every point "does my interpretation DEFINITELY make sense in light of this section?". Sometimes you might find something contradictory -- for instance a note of joy in a poem which is otherwise quite depressing. In that case, your argument can no longer be that the whole poem is centred around bitterness (or whatever, I'm making this up) but rather you'll have to alter your argument to the poem being about the randomness of fate (because on reflection it turns out that the contrast between the depression and the joy makes this the message you receive). Clearly this is an invented example, but the point I'm trying to get at is that the former interpretation wouldn't fit the whole text. The second interpretation DOES fit the whole text. Always make sure that your main line of argument fits everything, or your entire essay will be out.

5. Use language you understand
Okay I'm not going to lie, some people say some really stupid things. If you don't know what a word means, don't know how a phrase is used (and this happens to some native speakers as well as non-native speakers) for the love of whatever higher being may or may not be out there… don't do it! Please. If you've been exposed to a lot of phrases around you in everyday life, and read a lot of books, you'll probably find this kind of thing like second nature to you, and you're very lucky. If not, please don't try and impress anybody. It's better to use straight forward sentences and make sure you're definitely getting your point across. You will not be rewarded for speaking with the kind of Elizabethan flourish which would've made Shakespeare proud of his handiwork. They're going to be more impressed by the whole thing making sense than by you using verbs in conjunction with the wrong prepositions etc.

6. PEE! Also go to the toilet before the exam.
I always assume everybody has heard of this; if you haven't, listen up! PEE is the best way to approach anything. Point, Example, Explanation! Live by the code of PEE and you should never make a crappy point (because if it's crappy hopefully you'll realise your explanation sucks and therefore not write it) and never make a point without explaining it (without that extra E, PEE just wouldn't be the amusing urination-based acronym we all know and love, would it?). To break it down with a (flippant) example:
Point --> Seamus Heaney (a poet) uses potato-based puns to enforce his love of potatoes
Example --> He says: "Without potatoes/I would not be rooted in this life" (yes this is made up)
Explanation --> The word "rooted" refers back both to the author's roots and also to the nature of potatoes themselves which are root vegetables. He also uses a very effective sentence structure to emphasise the significance of potatoes by making them the start of the phrase, the verb in the middle and then with "life" as the last word in the phrase, the stresses fall in such a way that the two seem linked…. etc etc etc. It's amazing what you can bull**** really Posted Image

7. Manage your time wisely
Okay I mentioned this with planning earlier. Know when you're going to have done stuff by and keep an eye on the clock. An essay is not an essay without a conclusion and all of its contents, and these things cannot be put into place if you run out of time! When I used to do my A1 essays I went line-by-line and said more or less to leave 5 mins at the end to conclude have 5 mins at the start to plan and intend to be halfway through the poem by the time I got halfway through my time. Never failed to finish an essay with this (very non-technical but useful) tactic. Don't be caught out.

8. Make points, don't score points! (aka don't drop in literary features if you don't know what you're doing)
I wrote that mostly because it sounds catchy, but basically what I mean is that you should realise you get marks for making points. Not for using special words. Obviously you want to use some special words throughout (and by special words I mean the World Lit lingo: alliteration, metaphors, caesuras etc etc) but they should be coincidental with you making a point. I used to fit them in as part of the second E in my PEE. When explaining why my point was valid I would casually mention that it was mightily effective on account of the simile and so on. In other words, they can be slotted in casually.
What you should avoid is point scoring, which is kinda like name dropping only using special words. Just because you know a word to describe a literary feature and what it means, it doesn't mean it's always going to be there! The major victim of people trying to point score is "irony". In actual fact, irony is not all that pervasive in literature. It crops up every now and again, but not particularly frequently and definitely not in 80%+ of things. I'm not going to bother inventing a statistic for how often it does crop up, but just remember it's not everywhere. DO NOT say something is 'an example of irony' unless you
A) are sure it's definitely an example of irony and that you know what irony is
B) are willing to explain how it's an example and why this is effective
This goes for any special word. If you know something is effective but don't know the special word for it (and often there isn't one), there's no harm in explaining it out. It is better to do this than to invent things or to go out of your way to include literary features just for the sake of them being there! If something if effective, just explain why. You don't need a technical term for it every time, and if you see something you know the technical term for but it isn't really effective... don't go out of your way to mention it.


Tips for Writing A1 Essay Responses (Paper 2)

1. Look at past questions and use them to break down your texts for revision
If you look through past paper questions, you'll spot that the sorts of questions you receive will always be about generalised things. Off the top of my head, things like Setting, Character, Beginnings and Endings, Death, Love, Chronology etc. all tend to crop up with reassuring regularity. So, this is the way in which you should approach your texts when revising them. Remember that in the actual thing you'll come across one of these sorts of questions and you will either have to sit and think for the very first time of exactly how the minor characters influenced the play (...for example...) or you'll have handily thought of it all before.
Hopefully you'll agree that the second scenario is much better than the first. My advice is therefore to go through all of your texts and pick out the main points to do with these themes. Not only will you familiarise yourself with the texts in the process, but you should also find that a lot of the points can be easily recycled into your actual essay in the exam and that's the aim. Get a piece of paper, head it up with the theme you're looking at and then divide it into columns. Think of a point from one of the texts and simultaneously whether that same point can be made in another text -- i.e. compare and contrast. You might draw a blank, or you might think "well they DO mention the minor characters, but they play more of a role in narrating the life of the main characters than in providing any of the action..." = et voila, a contrast! That kind of thing.

2. Prepare all of your texts
Do not favouritise texts. You will note that the questions ask you to write about 2 or more of the works you have studied. So yes, technically you only have to learn about 2. What, however, if the question in the exam asks you about Death, and nobody dies in one of the texts. You'll be stuffed. Unless you can see forward in time to know what the question will be, don't do just 2 of the texts. Do all of them. Revising them isn't really very time-consuming or difficult, and at the end of the day you'll be able to make the best comparisons if you're able to choose the best texts to compare. Simple as.

3. Use the exam time as a guide to which texts to use
Again going back to the "only doing 2 texts" thing, there is NO optimum number of texts to do. You can get a 7 comparing 2 of them, and you can get a 7 comparing all 4 of them. Also 3. It depends on the question you get and how much you know to be able to write! Sometimes you'll be able to say a lot about 2 texts, sometimes you'll be able to say a little about all 4. Provided your answer is high quality and makes some good points, it'll be okay.

4. Avoid the format Text A. Text B. Text C. End.
This also applies to the World Lit essays: do not write everything about Love in Text A and then everything about Love in Text B. It is infinitely easier to make good points and score better if you follow the model: Point A about Love in Text A, Point A about Love in Text B. In other words, each paragraph(ish) should be a comparison of a specific point across the texts, and you should be constantly flitting between the two or more texts. This'll give you good structure and make your essay cohesive. It's similar to the line-of-argument thinking, really. Hopefully that makes sense.

5. Learn roughly 5 quotes per text (minimum)
You don't have the texts with you in the exams (unless your school is being super lax with the IB rules), however it is always good to
A) do some language analysis
B) show your amazing knowledge of the texts
Of course you can (and definitely should) show knowledge by explaining where your examples sit in context within the texts, how they're supported or repeated throughout the text and all that sort of thing which shows the examiner that you clearly know the text well, without quoting. However, quotes are important. I would recommend you learn 4-5 quotes per text. The reason for this number? Well it's random, however it should also be sufficient. Remember that YOU are in charge of putting them in, so for all the examiner knows, you might know every word of the whole book but have just chosen to put in 2 or 3 quotes -- you can show off what you know and totally skip on what you don't know by simply explaining it rather than quoting it. Consequently, you don't need to remember lots, and you can base some of your points around your quotes to make sure you nip them in. For this reason, your quotes need to be well-selected. I would recommend that you have quotes to convey the main themes, important things about the main characters, examples of the author's style if they have a distinctive style, and at least one quote which you can do a tiny bit of literary analysis on per text. You can find these by flicking through the books and just thinking of the most important things your teachers picked out in lessons, or you'll also find that sites like Sparknotes often contain 'key' quotes which you can use to inspire you. Picture them appearing in your essay and the points you'll make from them and it'll help you pick Posted Image
They don't have to be long... even just 3 words long if it makes your point!

6. Make sure the essay has a sound, planned structure
In my experience, people rarely run out of time for this essay. There's no line-by-line version where you can ramble on to make your point, you'll have to structure it. Again you should practice how long this is going to take you, but you should do it a bit like Tip 1. Columns to compare points across as many texts as you're going to include. This shouldn't take you too long, but make sure you introduce with a mini line-of-argument, as in Paper 1 (it's a bit harder in Paper 2 so your introduction will probably just be some major generalising about the way in which the theme pops up in the texts) -- this'll also provide you with a way to conclude. Always think how to link the previous point to the next point so your essay flows well.

7. Remember what your texts are called and who wrote them...
It does not in any way shape or form help impress the examiner if you cannot get these right!! You'd be amazed what sorts of things you assume you know but will blank on in the exam, and the names of texts and authors are right up there with major things people forget. Part of this is due to the fact you'll be giving them all slang names by the end of studying them (e.g. 'Handmaids' instead of 'The Handmaid's Tale', and suddenly you'll be in the exam wondering who on earth wrote it, how many Ts there are in "At(t?)wood" and whether it was 'a' Handmaid's Tale or 'the' Handmaid's Tale or whether there was ever an extra word there at all). Really stupid things but you'll get stuck! Make sure you're spelling all of the titles, character and author's names right (don't assume you've been calling them the right name for 2 years, for instance many people reading The Outsider are very freaked that 'Mersault' has secretly been called 'Meursault' the whole time). This is the thing you will absolutely kick yourself for not getting right.

8. Always refer back to context and give examples
Show you know the texts! Without retelling the story, pop in a little bit of context with all your examples, and make sure you give an example (not necessarily quoted, remember, it can just be explained) for every point you make. Don't waste your time by going into insane detail, just make it subtly obvious you know the texts with context and examples.

9. How many paragraphs should my essay have??
Okay, lots of people ask this. The answer is AS MANY AS IT NEEDS. The reason for this is the intrinsic structure of your essay. You want each paragraph/section to be illustrating a new compare/contrast point. For instance, if the Question you're given is something like... "In the texts you have studied, what is the role of time?", you want to instantly come up with comparators/contrasts. E.g....
- in Long Day's Journey Into Night, the setting changes over time to show the passing of the day and the 'journey into night'
- in Waiting for Godot, the setting never changes to reflect how despite changing time, nothing actually changes
- in Long Day's Journey Into Night, the mother lives mentally in the past and regresses further and further as the play goes on
- in Waiting for Godot the characters are confused about the time and how long they've been there
(...and then obviously a lot more points!!)
Having done this you want to look at the points of comparison and contrast you've created. I would say that the points are
1. the way that time affects setting
2. the character's view of the passage of time
Et voila! 2 points and ~ 2 paragraphs.
Hopefully this illustrates the idea of the structure: your paragraphs/sections should represent your points, and your point should compare/contrast across all the texts you're using. In this way you end up with a good, well-structured essay that very tightly and neatly answers the question. Your points and ideas are very clear! This is, essentially, PEE again. Got to love PEE Posted Image Really though, there's no point in doing X number of paragraphs as some optimum number. You'll have no idea how many points you're going to have and how many paragraphs your writing will take up until you've written it. Otherwise it's like saying that you're going somewhere nobody's ever been before, but nevertheless want somebody to advise you on the exact walking time. Just plain old bizarre.



Tips for Writing WL1 Essays


1. Get your question right!
"Thesis statement" or question, whatever code name it goes under, it is absolutely absolutely essential it's right. You have several things to look at to get it 'right', and these are as follows
A) You will be able to write 1,500 words in answer to your question. WL essays are short and if it's not 1,450-1,500 words minimum I would suggest you've not set yourself a very good question or have failed to answer it thoroughly enough. You should be editing out minor words like crazy trying to trim it down, and definitely not stopping short of the mark.
B) You will be able to answer the question extremely thoroughly within 1,500 words. If you think "oh and I could've said that, too, but I ran out of space..." you didn't set yourself a very good question! Your question must be FULLY answered in the word count.
C) It will be a question! I personally think the phrase "thesis statement" can be misleading in terms of including the word statement. There should be no stating, narrating or retelling (unless it's part of briefly establishing context). You're trying to prove something by answering a task you've set yourself.
If you're having difficulty finding a question, I would suggest looking again at major themes and characters as you'll invariably find at least something to compare between those.

2. Thoroughly integrate the two texts
As with Paper 2 (Tip 4) make sure you constantly put one text against the other and do your best to avoid half your essay being about Text A and then half your essay being about Text B. You can't really do an analytical comparison that way, you end up just listing facts about 1 and facts about 2 -- if you're good you might be able to link Text B back every single time you spot an overlap, but that makes for difficult and messy reading and is generally not what you want to be doing if your aim is to impress.

3. Keep quotes short, simple and sweet
Definitely quote! Just remember that quotes take up your word count, so the more professional you are about integrating your quotes the better. Don't quote a whole sentence if the bit you want is only in part of it. If you can edit out/in words so it makes sense in the context of what you're writing, that not only shows that you are proficient at writing and will get you brownie points for that, but also saves your word count (yay). To show an example of quotes being integrated well and quotes being integrated less well, I shall give an example -- for instance, if the sentence in the book was
"Fred's tortured past was long behind him now"
A 'worse' version of this might be By saying 'Fred's tortured past was long behind him now', the author contrasts the fact that his past was bleak with the fact it happened a long time ago ....
A better version: Here Fred's past is described as "tortured" but the author also contrasts it with the fact that it is "long behind him now"
Not the best of examples but hopefully you can see that by chopping and changing, you can quote as part of your explanation rather than quoting something and then explaining it. In the long run it reads better, saves words and is generally more efficient.

4. SHOW your knowledge of the text
The best way to do this is by putting all of your examples in context. It's very important to appear to have a good working knowledge of whatever it is you're writing about and you should note that the IB specifies an appreciation of culture as one of its little keywords in the WL1 blurb. Although you should put all of the examples into the context of the novel/play/whatever itself, it's possibly worth putting some points of the novel in a more global context -- for instance if you were to pick out an example from Animal Farm with one of the pigs talking, you could extremely briefly mention the propaganda of Orwell's time and the message which he intends to convey through the character of the pigs being very relevant to its original readers. With Antigone or one of the Ancient Greek plays, pointing out how useful the Chorus is as a narrative technique given the mechanics of Greek theatres. This kind of thing is good because it shows you appreciate the style of the piece and also its original cultural context. Whatever you do do NOT go on about this for any longer than absolutely necessary. It's a World Literature piece, so any reference to non-WL stuff should be the tiniest of comments, but it's a good idea to nip in this sort of thing somewhere as it shows the examiner you appreciate a very large context to your understanding of the literature.

5. Take advantage of presenting the characters (added by Tilia)
Present the characters. Don't write "X eats a potato together with Y". Instead write "The 16-year-old protagonist X eats a potato together with his best friend and neighbour, the blonde Englishman Y". This is how you show knowledge of works, criterion B.
(And handily use hardly any of your word count in the process! Good tip or what?)


Literary features bucket list: a short list of essentials literary features you can add to... but it's definitely useful to know these ones!

Spoiler


Hopefully those're all helpful hints. Please feel free to post some of your own and I'll edit them into this thread with some credit -- only if they're decent, of course, although I'm sure they will be (so no "bring a pen" comments!) xP Or if you have constructive comments to make on the tips already up there, those are also welcome.

#3
destroyedparadise

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This is all REALLY helpful, but I do have a question. How do you phrase your thesis into a question? Should'nt the thesis statement BE a statement? Could you give me some examples, because I'm really not understanding this. Nonetheless, thanks so much for all of this, it truly is helpful!

#4
Sandwich

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This is all REALLY helpful, but I do have a question. How do you phrase your thesis into a question? Should'nt the thesis statement BE a statement? Could you give me some examples, because I'm really not understanding this. Nonetheless, thanks so much for all of this, it truly is helpful!


Well to my knowledge, the concept of a thesis statement exists only in N. American high schools, and it's not really = a question (perhaps a better word for question in this instance would be 'title'). Thesis statements seem to me to be basically a person saying "In my view X is X" -- like for instance "In book A and book B, both main characters are controlled by a powerful mother figure". The aim of the WL isn't to state something and then explain how, it's got to be a comparison and the title has got to imply that. So rather than that 'thesis statement', a good title would be: "A comparison of the impact of the mother figure on character 1 and character 2 in book A and book B".

It's quite a subtle difference, but you'll end up writing a much more focused, deeper and more comparative essay if you can word the title more as question which you then go on to answer rather than just a statement. Among other things, it adds extra levels to your argument because you can then do a proper comparison with contrast as well as just similarities, as well as giving your essay the right tone: you are using examples to 'argue' effectively. You argue how they are similar and how they are dissimilar in terms of how they are used and how they appear etc. and then your conclusion should be a balanced reflection of the arguments of your essay.

Blank assertions like that of a thesis statement can't lead to any of those things.

#5
Tilia

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Good list of advice, Alice, just thought I'd add one thing.

Present the characters. Don't write "X eats a potato together with Y". Instead write "The 16-year-old protagonist X eats a potato together with his best friend and neighbour, the blonde Englishman Y". This is how you show knowledge of works, criterion B.

Edited by Tilia, Aug 25, 2010 - 09:33.


#6
Desy Glau

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Thank you Sandwich, the tips really helped in my A1 exams (papers 1 and 2). However I encountered a problem in writing my paper 2 this morning. I'd like to ask, for paper 2 right, let's say I have 3 points to talk about (say A, B, C) and 4 different works (say J, K, L, M). What if point A can only be related to work J, K, L; point B can only be related to work K, L, M; and point C be can only be related to work J and L? Can I still use the 4 works? Or must every single work be related to every point?

#7
Sandwich

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You can still use all 4 works :P Obviously, though, you should aim for points which enable you to compare between at least 2 at once and it's more economical to make points comparing as many texts as you want to mention.

#8
IB 2012

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Thanks a lot this really helped, however I still don't really understand how to structure paper 2?
Thanks

#9
Drake Glau

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Just wanted to add to a few things. Setting can be more than just the surroundings, it can be cultural specifics as well as some other things it's too early to remember at this time.
Details is generally broke down into Details of speech/appearance/thought/action (and it helps to be specific) and are usually used in characterizing something. Or creating a setting. Usually :yes:
You have characterization as a technique. The characters themselves can be techniques, but the way they are characterized could be broken down more to either the details, or the syntax or diction. I've always taken characterization as the effect instead of a technique. Could be just me though.
Imagery is can count for any sense as well, just just creating a picture. Book I'm reading now for example uses phonetic text instead of actual spelling creating the imagery of the sounds.
Motifs might be a good technique to add to the things to know section. They make themes and knowing how to find them and find them really early in the book will help in finding themes. Always good to find hints at themes quickly and then watch them grow ;)

#10
Sandwich

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I was hoping points 4 and 6 explained it okay re: Paper 2. Which bit are you unsure about? I'm happy to elaborate :P

#11
weissbar13

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Hey there, I was wondering if anyone had any handy lists or links (or something to that effect) of good vocab to use when writing Paper 1? I often find it quite difficult trying to describe the atmosphere, tone and/or style of the poem/prose because my range of vocab is pretty basic.

Thanks!

#12
Bhagyashree

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Can somebody tell me where I can find some past English A1 and world literature papers ?It will help me for text analysis. One more thing how works are devided into several parts and what each part called? e.g Part1 works: Literature in translation................

#13
ro_1293x

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Sandwich, your post may have just well saved my (procrastinating lazy) ass! :props:
I took English a1 HL under the assumption that literally being good at writing essays was enough... then I realized that I didn't know how to analyze texts well enough to put my thoughts into coherent enough sentences that would eventually combine to you know, make up my Exam papers.
I have slaved over the last few months to spruse up my WL's (though still not sure if they were up to par) and my IOC to hopefully get the marks I desire, BUT I am now totally clueless about my actual exams which are , well, in exactly 2 months (Ok no wait, less...damn this denial). so, THANK YOU!

#14
ro_1293x

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Just wanted to add to a few things. Setting can be more than just the surroundings, it can be cultural specifics as well as some other things it's too early to remember at this time.
Details is generally broke down into Details of speech/appearance/thought/action (and it helps to be specific) and are usually used in characterizing something. Or creating a setting. Usually Posted Image
You have characterization as a technique. The characters themselves can be techniques, but the way they are characterized could be broken down more to either the details, or the syntax or diction. I've always taken characterization as the effect instead of a technique. Could be just me though.
Imagery is can count for any sense as well, just just creating a picture. Book I'm reading now for example uses phonetic text instead of actual spelling creating the imagery of the sounds.
Motifs might be a good technique to add to the things to know section. They make themes and knowing how to find them and find them really early in the book will help in finding themes. Always good to find hints at themes quickly and then watch them grow Posted Image


Going off comment about setting, With our Paper 2 Texts and just in general we're always taught to look for cultural/social setting if there are any idicators because it can sometimes be really helpful when trying to understand any Text if you first understand the background to the cultural/social setting in order to follow the story and understand in a larger context how the themes might apply. Like for example in Running in the Family by Micheal Ondaatje it's really helpful to understand that Sri Lanka during the post colonialism time [after the British left] there was a lot of confusion in terms of identity (and search for Indentity is one the main themes of this text). So initially the reader might just pick up on Ondaatje's search for his own indentity, but there's a lot of stuff that references to post-colonialism and the whole nation's search for identity because if you just sort of understand what nations go through in general you can connect that to alot of what he writes.

And in an unseen text sometimes they give a lot of cues as to where the passage is taking place and it can be sometimes hugely helpful to realize whether its an Eastern setting or Western because there's a difference in the writing styles as well as cultural/social beliefs, setting, customs, etc which can affect your impression of the text. :)

#15
2012malyutad

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English Paper 1 tomorrow! Good luck to everyone!

#16
TykeDragon

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guys just wondering as I can't seem to find this elsewhere, but what are the new world lit grade boundaries?? I mean, now that we do one out of 25 instead of two out of 20. Thanks! (Most specifically I just want to know how much for a 6 and how much for a 7. I assume around the regions of 22-25 = 7; 18-22 = 6.)

#17
psychologystudent501

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This is all REALLY helpful, but I do have a question. How do you phrase your thesis into a question? Should'nt the thesis statement BE a statement? Could you give me some examples, because I'm really not understanding this. Nonetheless, thanks so much for all of this, it truly is helpful!


I had the same issue with my IOP. My topic was 'The way in which loss is presented in 4 of Heaney's works', so my question was 'How does Heaney present the theme of loss in 4 of his works?'. You basically take your statement, and reword it slightly so it makes sense as a question.

Another example would be that my friend was doing how Gatsby is presented in The Great Gatsby, so his question was 'How is Gatsby presented by other characters in TGG'

#18
Cryphisss

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Thanks a lot. Having my mock exam tomorrow on Paper 1! 



#19
Ashes

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Hey there, I was wondering if anyone had any handy lists or links (or something to that effect) of good vocab to use when writing Paper 1? I often find it quite difficult trying to describe the atmosphere, tone and/or style of the poem/prose because my range of vocab is pretty basic.

Thanks!

I don't know if this is still relevant for you but if someone else saw this and wanted some help with vocab for textual analysis in A1 papers,

these are some really helpful links;

 

Vocabulary for text analysis and text production - WordPress ...

 

http://englischlehre.../vocab_text.php