IB English Paper 1 Explained

  • Last updated on February 18, 2022

LitLearn Voted #1 IB English Resource for 2022

what is a paper one

IB English Paper 1 is one of those nerve-wracking experiences that everyone has to endure. It’s especially scary because you have no idea what you’ll end up writing about for your final exam–and your grades depend on it!

The best preparation you can do is to be acutely aware of the exam structure and be familiar with strategies for tackling a Paper 1 in general.

If you want to fully wrap your head around the IB English Paper 1 guided analysis, then this blog post is definitely for you.

In 2014, IB 45 graduate Jackson Huang received a perfect 20/20 for his final Paper 1. In this guide, he will share his secrets on the IB English Paper 1 so that you can conquer it too! 💪

Topics included

  • What is a Paper 1?
  • What to write about in a guided analysis
  • The correct approach to analysis
  • The importance of the  thesis
  • Getting the right commentary structure
  • Structuring body paragraphs

Planning ahead

What is a paper 1 exam.

In a Paper 1 exam, you are given two mysterious, unseen texts , both of which are between 1 and 2 pages in length.

For IB English Literature SL and HL:

You’ll get two different literary texts types, including poems , short extracts from fiction and non-fiction prose (aka “normal writing” from novels and short stories), and extracts from plays (which includes stage directions and dialogue).

For IB English Language and Literature SL & HL:

The texts come from a plethora (new vocab for you! this blog is so meta!) of categories including magazines, editorials, speeches, interview scripts, instruction manuals, cartoon strips, you name it. Be prepared to be surprised. 😂 

So you’re given two unseen texts. What do you have to do now?

SL students , you’re in luck: Your task for 1 hour and 15 minute exam is to write a commentary guided analysis (IB renamed it) on just one of the two texts. The total marks for the exam is 20.

HL students , you’re in less luck: Your task in 2 hours and 15 minutes is to write a guided analysis on each of the texts. good luck have fun.

Wait, what’s a “guided analysis”?

At the bottom of the text, the IB English Gods and Goddesses pose a short, open-ended question about the text. Something to the effect of:

How does the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus impact the narrative?

I’d recommend most students to use the default guiding question as the “entry point” for their essay. At the end of the day, though, you are still allowed to talk about anything, because the IB also says on the cover page of the Paper 1 exam:

Use the guiding question or propose an alternative technical or formal aspect of the text to focus your analysis.

But why make your life harder? Just go with the guiding question, UNLESS you are really confused by the guiding question…and the other text confuses you even more…and you are confident in an alternative focus of this current text.

What do I have to write about in a guided analysis?

Imagine that you’ve been asked to simply “talk about” a novel that you’ve recently read on your commute to school (this is joke obviously, who reads novels on the bus?). What would you “talk” about?

Immediately, a couple important aspects should seem worthy of a comment.

  • Characters are usually the core of the story. They should definitely be commented on.
  • Also, stories revolve around central ideas, also called  themes . e.g., if you comment on  Harry Potter  and you don’t mention anything about wizardry, then you’re leaving out a central part of the book!
  • And finally, we need to talk about the events that happen in the text. These events can be referred to as the plot .

You now know that characterisation, thematics and plot are essential ingredients in any top-scoring Paper 1 guided analysis. By talking about these aspects, you are providing a holistic ‘comment’ on the text–which is exactly what we want.

But this is only half of the whole story.

The above list of three things would be very sufficient if you were just having a casual chat with your friends. But this isn’t a casual chat.


(While you read that 👆, picture this: You’re standing beside a pit so deep it goes to the centre of the Earth, and a Spartan–out of no where–kicks you over the edge and into the metaphorical pit of IB English.)

Digging Deeper

In IB English, your guided analysis needs to go deeper than just describing the characters, themes and plot, which constitute the ‘surface meaning’ of a text.

By the way, we’re using a literary text as an example to keep things simple. Of course, characters and plot aren’t important in non-literary texts like ads, infographics and articles. The same principles should apply!

Your analysis must go deeper than the surface meaning. Explain how exactly these characters, themes and plot events are established through the author’s intentional use of certain literary techniques. If you do that, you’ll be on your way to bigger and better analysis.

The IB wants you to dig deeper into the text and answer these two key questions :

  • HOW did the writer create these characters, themes and plot?
  • WHY did the writer choose to create these characters, themes and plot in this particular way? e.g. “JK Rowling could have made Draco a kinder person, but she didn’t. Why?”

These questions get to the heart and soul of analysis . In this blog post, I want us to focus on Paper 1 overall.

Your ONE mission in Paper 1

Let’s quickly recap what you need to do in a Paper 1.

  • You need to discuss the characters, themes and plot of a chosen  literary text, OR the visual and stylistic elements (diagrams, headings, titles, images) for a non-literary text.
  • You then need to explain how and why these aspects were achieved by the writer or artist.

These two points are helpful as a basis for understanding, but they won’t help you get concrete words onto the exam page. What we need now is a practical guide to writing an actual commentary:

  • Deciding on a good  thesis
  • Choosing the right  points
  • Choosing the right structure

A Practical Guide to Writing a Paper 1 Commentary

An IB English Paper 1 commentary boils down to 3 separate parts:

  • An introduction paragraph : contains a thesis and an outline of your points
  • A body (usually 3 paragraphs) : contains your points
  • A conclusion : wraps up the essay

Choosing a thesis

The thesis or subject statement is a single sentence in the introduction of the guided analysis that states how the writer achieves their overall purpose.

This is also the main argument that you are trying to prove in your essay, and it’s typically related to the guiding question . The examiner can usually judge the strength of your analytical skills JUST from your subject statement alone, so it needs to be well-written!

Good thesis, bad thesis

Here’s a little quiz :

In the poem, the poet depicts a crying man in the city centre, which highlights the society’s aversion towards emotion, and demonstrates the overly masculine nature of society.
In the poem, the poet hyperbolises society’s aversion towards emotion in order to criticise masculinity as a restrictive social norm that inhibits the natural expression of emotion.

Can you tell which subject statement is better and worse? If so, do you know why one is better, or do you just  feel  it intuitively but cannot articulate your reasons?

Answer: the second one is better! 🎉

If you want to prepare properly for IB English Paper 1, create a Free account to get the full Free lesson on how to craft a top-quality thesis quickly during your exam. It’s a Free Preview of LitLearn’s ultimate IB English resource, so you’ll need to sign up for a Free LitLearn account to get immediate access to the lesson.

what is a paper one

Get the Free “How to Write an Epic 7-Level Thesis” lesson inside LitLearn.

Choosing the right commentary structure for IB English Paper 1

Every text works best with a specific paragraph structure. Finding this match isn’t always easy, but it’s also one of the most important things to get right in your Paper 1 guided analysis.

You can organise your essay by:

  • ideas or themes
  • sections (sequential, e.g. stanza by stanza for poems)
  • the ‘Big 5’
  • and probably a whole host of other acronyms that English teachers love to invent.

Criterion C for IB English Paper 1 is Organisation . It’s worth a whole 5/20 marks, so it’s definitely in your best interest to choose the most appropriate structure for your commentary.

Pro Tip: I recommend students to stay away from the Big 5 . Sure, it’s useful as a memory device to tell you what elements to look for in a text, but it’s not a good essay structure for analysis.

Why? Because analysis is about examining the causal interplay between techniques, stylistic choices, audience, tone, and themes. The Big 5 and SPECSLIMS artificially silo these components in your discussion. Heed my advice or pay the price! (notice that rhyme?)

So in my opinion, there are only two types of structure that are most conducive (yep, another new vocab, omnomnom) to getting a 7. Ideas/themes  and Sections . Take this as a hot tip and run with it. If your teacher is forcing you to use other structures, then you’ll need to know why this is recommended.

I go into much more depth and explain it all inside Analysis Simplified , and the guess what? Yep, the full lesson on choosing the optimal structure for your Paper 1 exam is completely Free! (Sign up for the Free Preview, just click the button below.)

what is a paper one

Writing body paragraphs: Why and How

Once you’ve chosen the best structure for your commentary and decided on a strong thesis as your central argument, the rest of the essay needs to revolve around proving  this argument.

How do you prove this subject statement? You do it by looking at individual points. These smaller points support smaller, more specific aspects of the overall thesis.

The idea is that each body paragraph, or point, aims to prove a separate, smaller aspect of the bigger thesis. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle : You must piece together smaller, more manageable pieces to build the bigger argument (i.e. the thesis).

In reality, this translates into writing 2, 3 or 4 points, each of which fits snuggly it its own paragraph or multiple paragraphs (depending on the complexity of the point).

In each point, you must include:

  • Quotes, references to images, titles, headings, or visual elements. This is the evidence.
  • Analysis of language and literary techniques.  Use specific quotes from the text and explain how and why they are used by the writer to shape his/her message.

Obviously, this is a quick summary of how to write a high-quality body paragraph. If you want to really, really wow your teachers and examiners… then you’ll need to check out the Free Full lesson inside LitLearn. You’ll need to create a Free account to access the lesson.

what is a paper one

Ironically, the most important part of IB English Paper 1 is not the analysis itself (well it is, but not really). The part you have to get right the first time is the plan. Most students do not know how to plan effectively, or get flustered in the exam and don’t plan, or don’t even try to plan because they think they’re above it. BIIIIG MISTAKE!

Before you even begin writing, you should plan out your commentary in sufficient detail. You will lose track of time, thought and sanity if you do not have a clear road map of every part of your commentary before you begin writing.

You can learn how to annotate and plan quickly & efficiently using the flowchart method inside Analysis Simplified , so that you can go walk out of your Paper 1 practice, mock and final exams feeling like that powerful and overly aggressive Spartan, kicking IB English in the butt (and into the deep, cavernous abyss)!

Jackson Huang

Jackson Huang

what is a paper one

Skyrocket Your IB English Grade

Join thousands of ib english students inside litlearn..

  • How to Plan Essays Quickly
  • How to Analyze any quote
  • How to Interpret any text
  • How to Write persuasively
  • How to Prep for Paper 1
  • How to Prep for Paper 2

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) does not endorse this website. LitLearn has been created independently of the IBO. The logos, names and trademarks of organisations such as the IBO and IB Resources belong to their respective companies and organisations, and are not affiliated with LitLearn in any way.

what is a paper one

Study Guide for Paper 1 and Paper 2

We understand navigating our website can be tough.  There are literally 125+ videos to choose from, and it’s easy to get lost.  No worries!  Our complete Paper 1 and Paper 2 Study Guide is streamlined and includes just the essentials. No more aimless clicking.  All you need is right here in one place!

what is a paper one

The Complete Study Guide for Paper 1 and Paper 2 is part of our IBDP English A Student Toolkit and includes:

  • 250+ pages of updated review material!
  • The best of our website videos and documents 
  • NEW content not available on our website
  • 20 highlighted papers with examiner notes 
  • Discussion videos justifying marks on sample papers
  • Full assortment of graphic organizers
  • Sentence stems and guidance for analysis

Paper 1 Exam Review Video Course

Looking for more detailed instruction?  Try our Paper 1 Exam Review course.  This complete course features two non-literary texts to prepare you for the next Lang/Lit Paper 1 assessment.  We’ll show you how to read closely, write a strong response, score your own work, and make a personal improvement plan.  This is for serious students…go for it!

what is a paper one

Part of our  IBDP English A Student Toolkit , this resource includes:

  • 8 synchronous lessons with downloadable documents
  • More than 100 minutes of NEW instructional video
  • 2 exam texts
  • 2 highlighted model responses with examiner comments and discussion video
  • Paper 1 checklist
  • Paper 1 scoring and reflection guide

Paper 1 – Quick Tips and Tricks For All Students

We get it. Sometimes you don’t have the time to watch lots of videos and sort through lots of documents. If that describes you, then Andrew and Dave highly recommend checking out the videos below. They are short, sweet, and have loads of critical tips and tricks to help you succeed on Paper One.

Watch this before your next Paper 1 for important reminders.

Ten Tips for Paper One

Don't make these mistakes! Easy fixes that add points.

Ten Pitfalls to Avoid for Paper One

Nobody wants to sound like a robot. Add some voice, would you?

Adding Voice to Academic Writing

Start with a firm handshake and finish strong.

Sample Intro and Conclusion

Remember: Discuss HOW the author USES text to impact the READER.

Discussing Reader Effect

Criteria B demands evaluation of the effectiveness of authorial choices.

Adding Evaluation

Don't forget to read between the lines and discuss implications.

Discussing Implications

Watch this video right before your exam. Don't miss this checklist!

Paper 1 Checklist

Language and Literature - Countdown to Paper 1!

Do you have a summative assessment or mock exam coming up?  Are you cramming content at the last minute?  If you are a Language and Literature student and this describes you, then you have come to the right place.  Each of the following TEN text types has CLOSE READING and SAMPLE RESPONSES WITH EXAMINER COMMENTS.  There are also documents with text type conventions and various other resources you need to achieve academic success.  Watch the videos and crush Paper 1.



Stimulus Text

Student Response


Conventions More Conventions Stimulus Text



Conventions Stimulus Text


LINK: BoW Grant Snider








Political cartoons.

Political cartoons are self-contained commentaries on an important current event or key aspect of society, and they’re humorous.  Look out for colors, symbols, and other hidden ideas lurking in the subtext.  Remember: just like literary authors, cartoonists make a series of choices in their work intended to shape meaning.  Look carefully.  Detect nuances and implications.  Evaluate.  Ace Paper 1.

Learn how to deconstruct political cartoons.

Cartoon Terms

Cartoon of Cartoon Terms

Now that you’ve learned some basic terms, let’s apply them to more cartoons.

Apply your new cartoon skills to academic writing.

Cartoon and Sample Writing

Sentence Stems for Analysis

Put it all together and check out this 7.


They’re everywhere on our phones and screens.  Advertisers work to cut through the clutter, grab our attention, and subtly influence us to make choices to buy, buy, and buy some more.  Accordingly, Dave and Andrew believe it’s essential to learn the tips and tricks companies use to manipulate our attention and persuade us to act.  Check out these videos.  Not only will you improve your Paper 1 performance, but you will also be a more skilled and savvy consumer who is attuned to the features our favorite brands employ in their ads.

Learn key terms and how to break down ads.

Features of Advertising

Mnemonic for Deconstructing Ads

There's more to learn! Add these skills to your toolbox.

15 Techniques of Advertising

More Tools of Persuasion

Put it all together and write an organized piece of academic writing.

The Model Paragraph

Opinion Articles

Whether they agree with what’s happening in our world or not, writers of opinion columns implement a series of choices in their work to maximize their persuasive effect.  A close cousin of speeches, these short and complete texts pack a punch.  Look carefully at how they’re structured, how they use rhetoric, and how they end strong.  Learn this stuff.  It’s Paper 1 gold.

What tools do these writers use? Add these terms to your list.

Persuasive Elements in Opinion Articles

Now that you’ve got some basic skills and some terms under your belt, let’s apply them to three different opinion articles and see what we can do.

Put it all together and see what it looks like.

Paper One Student Sample (original)

Paper One Student Sample (highlighted)

Literary Text Types

Regardless of the course you are enrolled in, we’re all studying literature.  How is prose fiction different than prose nonfiction?  What about drama and poetry?  Are there any special skills and tips to learn?  We’ve got the answers to these questions and more down below.  Consume these resources and become a better critical reader and writer.  

Prose Fiction

What’s prose fiction?  Think novels.  Think short stories.  Think “imaginative” writing.  It’s one of the cornerstones of the course for a reason, as it teaches us about the human condition and fosters empathy.  Learn how to be a close reader of prose fiction and let your knowledge shine when you write your Paper 1.

Literature can be tough. This acronym for deconstruction will help.

SCASNI acronym for annotating fiction

Learn more about how our SCASNI protocol can foster deeper analysis.

SCASNI applied to a Paper One Text

Put it all together and check out this full Paper 1 response.

Paper One – Full Student Response

Prose Non-Fiction

This course requires exploration of nonfiction texts as well.  So what exactly is this stuff anyway?  Think memoirs.  Think travelogues.  Think philosophy and other insightful texts that present factual information in an entertaining and literary way.  We love prose non-fiction, and so do our students.  These were our mock exams as well as former IB exams.  

Remember: Paper 1 is a reading test first. Watch this video.

Assessment Text (original) Assessment Text (annotated)

Yes, diaries show up on assessments. Familiarize yourself with this text type.

Assessment Text (original)

Assessment Text (annotated)

We love a good memoir. Another former IB Lit assessment here.

Check out what this writer does. They know what they're doing!

Student Response (original) Student Response (highlighted)

Another strong Lit response. You getting the hang of this yet?

Student Response (original)

Student Response (highlighted)

Our final mock exam in this Lit series. Another strong response.

Student Response (original and highlighted) Three Different Styles of Introductions

Sure, we understand poetry is abstract, but we promise it can be fun! It’s complex and requires deep thinking, but that’s where the magic lives.  Check out the videos and documents below.  You’ll find poetic terminology, close reading strategies, and sentence stems to guide your writing.  Watch.  Learn.  Master.  You’ve got this!  

Just like any text type, poetry has its own set of terms. Learn them!

Poetic Terms

Sample Poem with Annotations

Now you know some terms. A few more pieces and you're on your way.

How to Read a Poem

Acronym for Analyzing Poetry

Words to Describe Mood and Tone

Maya Angelou Poem For Analysis

Let's practice our new skills with a nature poem from Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver Poem for Analysis

Mary Oliver Poem (fully annotated)

Check out this former IB Exam where we break down a great poem.

Document: Poem – “Tyre Shop” by Bob Orr

Check out the full student response and compare your work to the sample.

Document: “Tyre Shop” – Full Student Response

Andrew and Dave love drama.  But, you’ve got to remember to pay attention to the stage directions. What can you see and hear on stage?  What props do you notice?  How are costume and staging used for effect?  So many things to explore!  It’s important to learn the basics for now, but stay tuned for more content in the future.  Our students love drama, and so will you.  Immerse yourself in this text type and enjoy!

We'll add more content soon. For now, master these important conventions of drama.

Dramatic Terms Annotated Passage

IB English Guys

Newsletter signup.

Premium Quality Office Printer Paper Supplier | PaperOne – APRIL Group

Office Paper

APRIL Group’s premium, flagship PaperOne™ range features superior opacity, and multi-directional and dual-sided printability, and together with a wide range of other cut-size brands, satisfies every printing requirement.

Designed for the most demanding printing and copying tasks, PaperOne™ products are PEFC-certified and adhere to the highest and most stringent quality control, guaranteed to deliver consistent professional printing quality with minimal environmental impact.

product slider

APRIL PaperOne Digital Paper Laser Inkjet Printing

Designed for digital color - laser & inkjet printing

APRIL PaperOne All Purpose Paper Home and Office

Perfected for modern home & office equipment

APRIL PaperOne COPIER Paper high speed high volume copying

Engineered for high speed and high volume copying

APRIL PP White Paper high quality

High white, high quality copy paper for daily use

APRIL PP Lite Paper high speed high volume printing

Engineered for high speed & high volume printing

APRIL Perfect Print Paper

Superb opacity

APRIL ZAP Premium Paper

Premium quality, improved thickness, high opacity

APRIL Copy & Laser Paper

Superb opacity & high white

APRIL ZAP Paper Laser Printing

Laser printing paper

APRIL Dunia Mas Paper multi-purpose

Excellent quality multi-purpose paper

APRIL Excellent Copy Paper

Excellent printability

APRIL IXORA Paper multipurpose white paper

Multi-purpose white paper

APRIL Laser IT paper bright white copy

Bright white copy


Excellent Image Contrast

APRIL High white Multipurpose Copy Paper

Unique Sized paper to match your needs

APRIL ULTIMA COPY Multipurpose White Paper

Economical choice for high speed copy & print machines

APRIL Bright-white Multipurpose Office Paper

Bright & White

APRIL COPIER Paper smooth and speedy

Smooth & Speedy Printing


Quality copy paper for everyday use


Home - View All Product Button


Home - Printing & Publishing Paper

APRIL Group PaperOne Printing & Publishing Paper

Home - Digital Paper

Home - prodigi™ hd print technology.

APRIL Group PaperOne ProDigi HD Print Technology

Home - Sustainability

Footer paperone™ content.

what is a paper one

 Copyright by APRIL International Enterprise Pte Ltd © 2019

PaperOne™ China

PaperOne™ Hong Kong

  • About APRIL Group
  • Journey of PaperOne™
  • PaperOne™ Story
  • Certificates & Awards
  • Office Paper Range
  • Printing & Publishing Paper Range
  • Digital Paper Range
  • Specialty Paper Range
  • Sustainability

Useful Links

  • APRIL Group
  • APRIL Rewards
  • APRIL Dialog
  • PaperOne™ Facebook
  • PaperOne™ Instagram
  • PaperOne™ Youtube
  • PaperOne™ LinkedIn

Head Office

APRIL International Enterprise Pte Ltd

80 Raffles Place,

#50-01 UOB Plaza 1,

Singapore 048624

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +65 6216 9318

Footer Copyright Text

"This is the OFFICIAL PaperOne™ website. This website and our official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PaperOneOfficial are the only official sources of news, events and other product information by PaperOne™. If you come across another website that claims to be associated with PaperOne™ or is similar to our website, do bring this matter to our attention by sending us an email at [email protected]

Please click the links for more information on our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy .

IBDP History

Website by Jo Thomas & Keely Rogers

Updated 3 December 2023

InThinking Subject Sites

Subscription websites for IB teachers & their classes

Find out more

  • www.thinkib.net
  • IBDP Biology
  • IBDP Business Management
  • IBDP Chemistry
  • IBDP Economics
  • IBDP English A Literature
  • IBDP English A: Language & Literature
  • IBDP English B
  • IBDP Environmental Systems & Societies
  • IBDP French B
  • IBDP Geography
  • IBDP German A: Language & Literature
  • IBDP Maths: Analysis & Approaches
  • IBDP Maths: Applications & Interpretation
  • IBDP Physics
  • IBDP Psychology
  • IBDP Spanish A
  • IBDP Spanish Ab Initio
  • IBDP Spanish B
  • IBDP Visual Arts
  • IBMYP English Language & Literature
  • IBMYP Resources
  • IBMYP Spanish Language Acquisition
  • IB Career-related Programme
  • IB School Leadership

Disclaimer : InThinking subject sites are neither endorsed by nor connected with the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

InThinking Subject Sites for IB Teachers and their Classes

Supporting ib educators.

  • Comprehensive help & advice on teaching the IB diploma.
  • Written by experts with vast subject knowledge.
  • Innovative ideas on ATL & pedagogy.
  • Detailed guidance on all aspects of assessment.

Developing great materials

  • More than 14 million words across 24 sites.
  • Masses of ready-to-go resources for the classroom.
  • Dynamic links to current affairs & real world issues.
  • Updates every week 52 weeks a year.

Integrating student access

  • Give your students direct access to relevant site pages.
  • Single student login for all of your school’s subscriptions.
  • Create reading, writing, discussion, and quiz tasks.
  • Monitor student progress & collate in online gradebook.

Meeting schools' needs

  • Global reach with more than 200,000 users worldwide.
  • Use our materials to create compelling unit plans.
  • Save time & effort which you can reinvest elsewhere.
  • Consistently good feedback from subscribers.

For information about pricing, click here

Download brochure

See what users are saying about our Subject Sites:

Find out more about our Student Access feature:

what is a paper one

Paper 1 is a source paper in which students must answer four questions on four sources which are all related to one of the prescribed subjects.

This page gives an overview of what is required; see Guidelines for answering Paper 1 questions to get more information on what is expected for the different types of question and for suggestions on how to help students develop their source skills.

What is the nature of Paper 1?

Paper 1 is a source based paper which lasts one hour. It consists of 4 sources (one of which is visual source such as a cartoon or a map). There are four questions which require students to use their source analysis skills.

What content needs to be covered for Paper 1?

One prescribed subject must be chosen for study from the following list:

  • Military leaders
  • Conquest and its impact
  • The Move to Global War
  • Rights and Protest
  • Conflict and intervention

Each prescribed subject consists of two case studies, each taken from a different region.

What is the structure of the paper?

Students will receive a source booklet and a question booklet). The booklets will cover all of the prescribed subjects.)

How will this paper be marked?

The paper is marked out of 24 which is divided up as follows:

Question 1 : 5 marks

Question 2 : 4 marks

Question 3 : 6 marks

Question 4 : 9 marks

NB There are generic mark bands for Questions 3 and 4

Selected Pages

what is a paper one

4. PS5 Conflict and Intervention: Full source papers Free

See below for full source papers and mark schemes for both case studies for PS5.Question Paper: These sources relate to...

what is a paper one

PS2: Conquest and its impact Free

This topic covers the final stages of Muslim rule in Spain in the late 15th Century and the conquest of Mexico and Peru...

what is a paper one

PS5: Conflict and Intervention Free

This prescribed topic focuses on two case studies which show the impact of both intervention and non-intervention in two...

what is a paper one

1. Case Study 1: Rwanda (1990–1998) Free

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, also known as 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, members of the Hutu ethnic majority...

what is a paper one

PS3: The Move to Global War Free

This topic examines how the actions of three countries in two different regions contributed to the 'move to global war'...

what is a paper one

PS1: Military Leaders Free

This prescribed subject covers the military leaders of Genghis Khan and Richard I.An outline of the key themes is given...

  • Academic Honesty
  • Aims and Objectives
  • Areas of Exploration
  • Learner's Portfolio
  • Literary Approaches and Criticisms
  • Summer Assignments
  • Reminders - ALL Classes
  • IA: Individual Oral (IO)
  • EA: HL Essay
  • Advertisement and Representation
  • Drama Study - Pygmalion
  • Novel Study: The Road
  • Poetry Study: The World's Wife
  • Year 2 Readings
  • Culture, Identity and Community
  • Beliefs, Values and Education
  • Politics, Power and Justice
  • Arts, Creativity and the Imagination
  • Science, Technology and the Environment
  • Time and Space
  • Intertextuality: Connecting Texts
  • Important Handouts
  • Visual Rhetoric
  • More Info about Oryx and Crake
  • Oryx and Crake Song Texts
  • B4's Assignments
  • IB Conversations
  • Language and Identity
  • Language and Community
  • Language and Gender and Sexuality
  • Language and Power
  • Media Institutions
  • Textual Bias
  • Role of Editing
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Popular Culture
  • The Color Purple
  • The Sympathizer
  • Woman at Point Zero
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Can a Picture Tell a Million Words?

How to improve your score in ​IB Language and Literature Paper 1.

Advertisement .

  • Uniqlo Selfless Selfie
  • Ethical Coffee
  • Chevrolet 2007
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man
  • A Bad Watch
  • Chevrolet 1947
  • Patek Philippe Watches
  • Problem and benefit:  also called  "benefit and need,"  the success of any advert depends upon appealing to the desires of its readers.
  • Image:  a major component of modern advertising, images often tell  visual narratives , or employ tactics such as ‘shock value’ or ‘sex sells.’
  • Slogan and copy:  as the image is so important in ads, text is kept to a minimum. Slogans should be  short, catchy, memorable  and should have a relationship with the image; this is called  anchoring . Look for  typographical features  such as bold fonts, underlined words and the like.
  • Association:  ads sell products… but also sell  values . You should be alert to the  abstract concepts  that the advert is associating with its product and brand. Understand that objects, settings, people and so on are  symbolic .
  • Testimonial:  adverts often include the satisfied  quotations  of customers who already used the product and are delighted with their purchase. Some ads feature  celebrity testimonials.
  • Advertising claims:  favourites include the use of  weasel words, scientific claims, vague language , or  bandwagon  claims.  There are many more  for you to look out for, and you might also keep an eye out for  jargon  which sounds impressive, but doesn’t communicate meaning.
  • Persuasion:  adverts are always persuasive. Even ads that are not trying to sell you a product or service might be asking you to think something, change your behaviour or help someone. Look out for any and all kinds of  persuasive devices  in advertising.

Charity Appeals 

  • The Smith Family
  • Cold Weather Alert
  • Pink Rickshaws
  • Save the Bees
  • Adopt a Polar Bear
  • Persuasive:  the purpose of charity adverts is to make the reader take action, probably in the form of money or time. Adjacent to this is the need to raise awareness of social problems. Therefore, look out for all kinds of  persuasive rhetorical features  in charity appeals.
  • Pathos:  charity ads are likely to be more  emotive  than regular adverts. By appealing to emotions such as  anger, pity, guilt ,  sympathy , and so on, charity adverts make it more likely that you will want to respond.
  • Hard-hitting:  like conventional advertising, charity appeals rely on  visual  elements to impact the viewer. An effective approach is to use hard-hitting  shock tactics  to spur the reader of this text type into action.
  • Credibility:  charity appeals need to be even more  trustworthy  than regular persuasive texts. Look for information that suggests your donations will make a positive change, perhaps in the form of  facts and statistics .
  • Metonymy:  social problems like hunger and poverty are too large for one person to help solve; so charity ads often introduce you to a  single individual  who represents all those who your donation goes towards helping.
  • Direct address:  charity ads will often address the reader with the word  ‘you’,  striving to make a strong connection. If a person in the advert is making eye contact with you, this is a kind of  visual direct address .

Recruitment Campaigns

  • Further Education
  • Be The Change
  • We Are Nurses
  • Fridays For Future
  • Persuasive:  the purpose of a recruitment campaign is to persuade you to sign up to a cause or join an organization. Recruitment drives are almost certain to use  direct address  and  imperatives .
  • Visuals:  can be wholly visual, but likely to have some accompanying text ( multi-modal ).
  • Slogans:  text may be minimal or in the form of slogans which are designed to be  catchy . Pay attention to  typography , fonts and emphasized words.
  • Pathos:  the core of a campaign is often  emotional , aiming to elicit feelings such as  patriotism  and  duty  on one hand, or  guilt  if one is not to sign up.
  • Card-stacking:  a common feature of recruitment drives is they often fail to show the downsides of joining up! Ignoring parts of the argument that don’t fit your agenda is called  card-stacking .
  • Simplification:   along with a  host of other fallacies , recruitment campaigns  reduce  complex issues to simple solutions. They may also invoke  stereotypes .
  • Symbolism:  elements of the text will connote concepts that are integral to the writer’s message. Look out for  metonymy , where an individual is made to stand for the whole.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • William Morris Lecture
  • The Pleasure of Books
  • Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi
  • Eulogy for Sir Edmond Hillary
  • Ethos:  the speaker establishes his or her  credibility  and may  allude  to a moral, social or spiritual leader with whom the audience cannot disagree.
  • Logos:  clear,  reasonable arguments, facts and statistics  and  quoting experts  in the field are all ways of establishing a logical appeal.
  • Pathos:  emotive language  and  imagery  are ways of helping the audience empathize with the feelings of other – often vulnerable – people.
  • Persuasive:  the speaker attempts to make his or her listener think in a certain way, believe something or  take action .
  • Direct address:  the speaker tries to draw closer to the listeners by addressing them as  ‘you’  – look out for the use of  ‘we’  or ‘ us’  to include the speaker and listener on the same side – and be wary of attempts to  compliment the listener .
  • Modality:  modal verbs are small but important words (such as  ‘must’, ‘need’, ‘should’ ,  ‘might,’  and so on) that reveal the speaker’s degree of certainty and strength of feeling.  You can study modality here .
  • Rhetorical devices:  all kinds of rhythmical, structural, auditory and linguistic tricks can be employed by a skilled speaker. They are too many to list here, but  rhetorical strategies  can be studied and learned.
  • Logical Fallacies:  also called ‘argumentation fallacies.’ Common fallacies in speeches are  glittering  generalizations ,  simplification  and  slippery slope .

Opinion Columns

  • Learning Foreign Languages
  • Political Correctness
  • PC Language Saved My Life
  • I h8 txt msgs
  • What’s Wrong with MacDonalds?
  • The Secret Power of Music
  • Zoos Are Prisons For Animals
  • Water on Mars
  • Being a Housewife
  • Perspective:  as an expression of a personal viewpoint, the  first person  is most commonly adopted for opinion pieces. Look out for ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ – a clever way of implying the viewpoint is commonly held.
  • Solid Arguments:  an opinion piece might open your eyes to the reality of an issue, providing  facts ,  statistics  and  information  to help convince you of the writer’s viewpoint. Expect to see opinions backed up by  studies, research  or  evidence  of some kind. Keep an eye out for  assertion , though, where a writer presents an opinion as if it were a fact.
  • Anecdotes:  sometimes a writer will relate a small story from his or her personal experience in order to demonstrate a  thoughtful approach  to the topic at hand. You may find the opinion piece begins with this story, which acts as a kind of  hook  into the main article.
  • Structure:  the writer of an opinion piece is not trying to keep you in suspense and the opinion is often obvious from the title or first few lines of the article. The rest of the article should support or develop the writer’s point in a number of ways. The ending should be strong and certain, perhaps  reiterating  the writer’s position.
  • Register and tone:  you should be especially alert to the writer’s choices in this regard. Opinion pieces are often  formal , but the writer may adopt an  irreverent tone , be  passionate ,  conversational,   friendly ,  challenging , even  sarcastic  depending on the tactics used to convince you of a particular opinion.
  • Concession:  although similar in many ways, opinion pieces are not quite the same as persuasive speeches, so the writer is not necessarily trying to change your opinion. In this case, you might find  concessions  to the other side of the argument or even an  acknowledgement  that the writer’s opinion is flawed in some way.

Comic Strips

  • Science Tales: Climate Change
  • You Have A Question, Calvin?
  • The 21st Century
  • First Dog on the Moon
  • Science Tales: Fracking
  • Purpose:  comic strips are often humorous; their primary purpose is to  entertain . Nevertheless the strip may make a  serious point  about a local or global issue.
  • Structure:  comics and cartoons are drawn in square boxes called  panels , arranged in sequence and read in a  linear  fashion. The white space between the panels is called  gutters .
  • Exposition:  text that tells the story is presented as  captions .
  • Speech and thought bubbles:  so you can read the internal and external  dialogue  of the characters.
  • Mechanics:   spatial mechanics  is the use of space within and between each frame.  Temporal mechanics  is the way time can be slowed down, sped up or stopped.
  • Artistic style:  comics are drawn purposefully and with intention. Are the pictures crisp, heavy, weighty, light, cartoony, realistic, bright, dark? Can you tell whether the artist used pencil, pen and ink, or brush? Words that describe  mood  and  tone  can be useful when analyzing  graphic weight  ( shading and contrast ) and  saturation  ( brightness ).
  • Emanata:  items such as  dots, lines, exclamation marks  or  onomatopoeia  that depict action, emotion or sound.
  • ‘Cartoonification’:  how realistic are the images in the cartoon or comic strip? Realism is measured on a spectrum from  photorealistic  or lifelike to  simplified .
  • Punchline:  especially apparent in four-panel comic strips, the joke is revealed in the last panel.

Satirical Cartoons

  • Children Playing
  • Kal Kallaugher Cartoons
  • Genetically Engineered Children
  • Purpose:  satirical or political cartoons aim to satirize ; this means they ridicule, lampoon or criticize a specific  target  which may be a person, group of people or a particular decision or viewpoint.
  • Irony:  meaning when one’s actions contradict one’s words. Look out for people in cartoons saying one thing and doing another.
  • Caricature:  people are  simplified ,  exaggerated  or  distorted  for effect. An element of caricature may be  synecdoche , whereby a part of something is made to stand for the whole.
  • Symbolism:  objects, icons and even colors have specific associations. Sometimes items are  labelled  in the text to help the reader make associations.
  • Allusion:  the cartoon may refer to historical or political events outside the text. The success of an allusion depends on the reader’s ability to recognize it.
  • Tone:  scathing, sarcastic, pointed , or  critical  are some of the words you might use to describe the tone of satirical cartoons.

Magazine Ariticles

  • Fashion Show
  • Broken Watches
  • Pitchforks and Plutocrats
  • Headline:  bold text  that reveals the topic of the article and should provide a  hook  for the reader.
  • Images:   photographs  of people and places are common features of magazine articles. They are almost always  posed , not natural, and are often as prominent as the copy.
  • Layout:  look out for  box-outs, bullet points, ears  and other kinds of layout features.
  • Entertainment:  although they might be topical and current, most magazine articles are designed to entertain. Information may be displayed in an appealing way, using  pull quotes  and  subheadings .
  • Buzzwords:  being  up-to-date, relevant  and  current  means some articles make use of buzzwords and words that are popular at the time of publication.
  • Interactive Features:  increasingly, articles that would traditionally have been printed in magazines are being published online. In this case, look out for interactive features such as  embedded videos ,  hyperlinks  and  tabs .
  • Embedded interviews:  experts on or participants in the topic at hand are often interviewed and  quotations  are used throughout the article. In the case of  celebrity articles , the whole piece could be the write-up of an interview (see below).
  • Celebrity Big Brother
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Minoli Salgado
  • Bernie Ecclestone
  • Grub Street
  • Question-Answer:  a recognisable feature of interviews in this format, which presents the questions asked and responses using quotations (direct speech).
  • Register:  as a record of a spoken conversation, a written interview is likely to contain examples of language that is more like speech. Look out for  colloquialisms, idioms, contractions  and even  jokes .
  • Quotation:  as an alternative to the question-answer format, you might see interviews written up as a magazine article. In this case you will see a mixture of direct quotation and  indirect free speech .
  • Topics : the interview may be focused on one issue or may range across various topics. Look out for the interviewer asking  leading questions  to take the conversation in a particular direction.
  • Perspective : the interview presents a  one-sided  view on a topic or person, so is likely to be highly  subjective . The interviewee may use  assertive statements  which present opinions as if they are facts.
  • Them-and-us:  celebrity interviews tend to put interviewees on a pedestal. Look for ways in which the text creates a divide between celebrities and ‘us’, the reader, or represents the interviewee as  special  in some way.
  • Swamp Water
  • Leadership Blog
  • Viewpoint:  blogs normally represent the interests and opinions of an individual, so are normally  first person .
  • Purpose:  Blogs are guided by individual interests or concerns so the purpose is  flexible . A blog might seek to  inform  readers about an area of interest, topic or movement. They may also  discuss  an event or issue. Blogs might even function like an online diary,  describing  the day’s events and reflecting on an experience.
  • Diction:  depending on the topic, writers of blogs could employ a  specialist vocabulary  or use  technical terms .
  • Visuals:  blogs may illustrate the text with cartoons, images or photographs (perhaps illustrated or taken by the writers themselves).
  • Structure:  again dependent on the individual text, but you can look out for  chronological  and  linear  structures with subheadings, clear connectives or other features helping organize the text.

Informational Text

  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Frank Fenner Foundation
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Neutral language:  aiming to inform above all else, the  register  should be formal or semi-formal, the language accessible and the  tone  neutral.
  • Diction:  some informational texts are aimed at particular readers and employ  technical terms  or  specialist language  – watch out for jargon, which may not communicate clearly.
  • Layout:  these kinds of texts normally have a clear, easy to understand layout. They might use  box-outs, lists, bullet points, page dividers  and other organizational features to help guide you step-by-step through the text. Some informational texts are  non-linear .
  • Facts and Statistics:  presented in all kinds of ways: percentages; graphs; charts or numbers. Look for  credible sources  that are  cited.
  • Typography:  look for fonts, capitalizations, bold or italicized words, underlined words, or other features that help emphasize key points.
  • Images:  often in the form of  diagrams , images should reinforce the written text or be broken into step-by-step guides. They may be  simplified .
  • Information:  although this goes without saying, you should differentiate between  general information  and  specific details .


  • Thunderstorms
  • The Benefits of Cycling
  • How are ICC Judges Elected?
  • Physical Activity
  • Humor At Work
  • Audience:  normally infographics are designed to reach as  wide  an audience as possible. As always look out for technical language that might indicate a niche audience.
  • Simplification:  the main purpose of infographics is to simplify complex knowledge or data. Look out for all kinds of simplification techniques including  summary ,  bullet points , images with  captions  and more.
  • Illustrations:  they say a picture is worth a thousand words and nowhere is this more true than in infographics.  Icons  are simplified mages that   symbolize  certain ideas from the text.
  • Copy:  infographics are multimodal, meaning there will be some brief text included. Look out for  headlines ,  labels  and  snippets  (brief chunks of text).
  • Structure:  good infographics are little  visual narratives  that tell a simple story, so look out for structural elements that help you decode the  sequence  of events.
  • Design:  infographics are supposed to be eye-catching.  Color, typography, font  and other  design features  should combine to help you get information and also engage your interest.

Scientific Articles

  • A Question of Time
  • The Silence of the Bees
  • Journey of a Lifetime
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Mission to Mars
  • Informative:  the purpose of scientific writing is to share knowledge, so look out for informative features such as  facts and statistics  and  clear explanations . Some articles will also  simplify  concepts for a more general readership.
  • Diction:  inevitably, writing about science and nature will involve using a  specialist vocabulary  of  technical  and  precise terms .
  • Comparisons:  some scientific concepts are quite abstract or complex, so writers of scientific articles might use  similes and comparisons  to make them easier for a wider readership to visualize.
  • Visuals:  photographs, diagrams, charts and graphs are all likely to accompany and illustrate scientific concepts. Look out for more examples of  simplification .
  • Credibility:  research,  authoritative sources , and quotations by  experts  make far-out concepts more credible.
  • Structure:  look out for both  linear  and  non-linear  structures and layouts, depending on the content. A text might provide a  timeline  or  historical overview .  Boxouts, summaries, explainers, glossaries  can all help communicate complicated ideas.

News Report

  • UK Weather Report
  • 100 Meter Sprint
  • Disappearing Town
  • Masthead:  a strip across the top of a newspaper front page containing the  name  of the newspaper, the  date  of publication and the  price . Tabloid papers from the UK are called ‘red-tops’ because of the red color of the masthead.
  • Headline:  the choice of words in a headline is essential to the tone and angle of the story. There are many techniques involved in creating headlines and you should definitely learn:  slammer; pun; alliteration; elliptical headlines  (which only include the keywords).
  • Visuals:  all newspapers make use of  photographs  to accompany stories. Tabloid papers are dominated by images while broadsheet papers tend to use smaller photographs. Look out for pictures of people’s faces, which reveal emotion and create bias.
  • Copy:  the main text of the article. Features you should be on the look out for are:  sensationalism; vague language; emotive language  and  euphemism .
  • Embedded interviews:  you can expect to find  witness recounts, expert opinions  and statements from  authority figures  in almost all newspaper reports.
  • Bias:  all kinds of bias exist in newspaper reports, from  selection bias  (the choice of what content to include and what to exclude) to  name-calling , to the use of certain  facts and statistics  and more.
  • Figurative Language:  anyone who still thinks the news is purely factual needs to  go back to the start of the course ! News reports are a rich source of  metaphor, simile, hyperbole,  and  exaggeration,  often  distorting   reality  in some way.

Descriptive Passages

  • What is Poverty?
  • The People of the Abyss
  • Summer in the Sierra
  • Diction:  the aim of descriptive writing is to help you visualize what’s in the writer’s head, so vague language is not helpful. Descriptive writing employs  concrete  language in  precise  ways.
  • Imagery:  as writing which is drawn from direct experience, description always involves imagery. Humans perceive the world vividly using our  visual  sense – but don’t forget about other ways of perception:  sensory images  can also be  auditory, tactile,  kinesthetic , and even  olfactory  (the sense of smell).
  • Figurative Comparisons:  similes, metaphors,  and  personifications  are commonly found in descriptive writing.
  • Modifiers:  the function of  adjectives and adverbs  are to describe.
  • Perspective:  one of the most important features. For example, a piece from an  outsider perspective  will contain very different thoughts and feelings to a piece written from an  insider’s point of view .
  • Oaxaca Journal
  • African Diary
  • Journal of a Disappointed Man
  • Viewpoint:  as one of the most personal text types, diaries are written in the  first person  and always express thoughts and feelings.
  • Perspective:  diaries are written to be private as the reader and writer are the same person.  Confessional  is a particular form of diary writing that reveals a secret.
  • Structure:  diaries function as records of the day’s events and are largely  chronological . Look out for  flashbacks  when the writer begins at the end, then goes back to explore how and why an event happened.
  • Register and tone:  most diaries are written in an  informal  or  semi-formal  register, using language the writer feels comfortable with. Look out for language which reveals the attitude of the writer ( tone ): it is not uncommon for diaries to be thoughtful and reflective, scathing and caustic… or anything in between.
  • Colloquialism:  the writer might write as if he or she is talking and may use  figures of speech  in an original or entertaining way.
  • Dire Predictions
  • Letter from the Front
  • An Eminent Letter
  • Name and address:  formal letters are posted to the recipient, so they normally contain both the  sender and receiver’s address , allowing the recipient to reply. The sender’s address is traditionally placed on the right hand side, with the  date  below it.
  • Purpose:  people send letters for all kinds of reasons; to complain, to seek advice, to connect with a loved one or even to pass gossip. The purpose of this text type is completely  flexible .
  • Register:  letters can be  formal  or  informal  depending on the purpose and relationship between the sender and receiver. The  tone  can vary widely too: compare a formal letter of complaint with an intimate letter between lovers.
  • Salutation:  a direct address to the recipient. Depending on context, they can vary from the formal  ‘Dear…’  or even  ‘To whom this may concern…’  to a quick  ‘Hi…’
  • Sign off:  you can tell a lot about the relationship between the reader and the writer from the way the letter ends. Formally,  ‘yours sincerely’  is used if the recipient’s name was used and  ‘yours faithfully’  is used when the writer does not know the name of the receiver. Non-conventional sign-offs can be used for a variety of reasons; check the end of the letter to see if the writer expects a reply.

Travel Writing

  • Cycling Tips
  • Travel Tales
  • Tasmanian Caves
  • Long Enough in Jo’burg
  • A Fish with Hair
  • The Mangyan of Mindanao
  • Viewpoint:  travel writing often documents the  personal experiences  of someone exploring a new place or country so is often  first person.
  • Perspective:  an  outsider’s   perspective  is common when reading travel writing, particularly if the destination is new, exotic or remote. Alternatively, the piece might be written from an  insider’s perspective  and is inviting you to visit or share an experience in a different part of the world.
  • Structure:  look out for  chronological  timelines,  past – present  structures or a  linear  journey of discovery. Guidebooks will have  clear headings  and  subheadings  and will probably include  box-outs  and the like.
  • Information:  travel writing often seeks to be informative and can present you with  facts and figures, names and dates, historical or architectural or geographical  information and more.
  • Description:  if the writer is trying to make the destination tantalizing, or to help transport the reader, you might find examples of  visual imagery, vivid description , even  figurative comparisons , helping you visualize a far-off place.
  • Visuals:   photographs, maps , or  floor plans  of famous locations are all visual features that you might encounter in travel writing, particularly guidebooks.

Advisory Texts

  • Self-help Guide
  • Letter of Advice
  • Tone:  authoritative, reasonable, commanding or trustworthy. Look out for  opinions presented as if they are facts .
  • Tense:  the  imperative  tense (also called the command tense) can be recognized by the position of the verb at or near the start of the sentence.
  • Modality:  modal verbs  such as ‘must’, ‘will’, ‘should’ and ‘ought’ transmit strength of feelings.
  • Credibility:  expert sources, research and scientific evidence might be used to establish credibility.
  • Register:  official advice will be formal and  persuasive ; friendly advice will be delivered in a reassuring or intimate way. Sometimes, advice will include a  warning .
  • Structure:  look for  cause-and-effect  structures,  step-by-step  guides or  linear  structures that are easy to follow.

Texts for Children

  • Tiktok and the Nome King
  • Enid Blyton
  • The Monkey Fiddle
  • Word of the Year
  • Allegory:  like  symbolism , in children’s stories characters and objects often stand for things greater than themselves. The Wizard of Oz is a good example of allegory.
  • Diction:  it would be unusual for children’s texts to contain too much difficult vocabulary, although stories and rhymes often use  synonyms .
  • Visuals:  look out for  colorful  visuals, vividly drawn people and places.
  • Fable:  a particular type of children’s writing that anthropomorphizes  animals, who stand in for human characters.
  • Didactic:  some texts for children are designed to teach a lesson or moral. You can look out for  didactic messages  in children’s texts.

what is a paper one

  • Math AA NEW
  • Math AI NEW
  • Math Studies
  • Free Resources

IB English Paper 1 – A Beginner’s Guide To A Level 7

what is a paper one

Today’s advice is related to the IB English Paper 1 exam. Gave you shudders didn’t it?

Maybe I’m weird but in all honesty, the English exams really weren’t too stressful compared to the other exams I did. Just my personal opinion.

Also, it’s probably because English is my first language…BUT. Nevertheless, hopefully today’s tip will help you. With IB exams (or mocks) just around the corner, it’s a better time than ever to get a head start on your studying

So today’s advice is hopefully really going to help both SL and HL students in their IB English Paper 1 final exam (and Paper 2).

I did HL myself so the techniques I used when doing these exams worked for me. Hopefully they’ll work for you too. Fingers crossed.

IB English Paper 1, here we go. Let’s get you guys prepped.

Read, and read your IB English Paper 1 Texts Carefully

With IB English Paper 1, it’s all about textual analysis. You want to really immerse yourself in the paper and get your brain cranking out good questions and analysis.

That’s why you have to read. You have 4 texts, A, B, C, and D, to read and you need to compare and contrast them.

That’s not to mean compare A and D. No.

You need to choose between A and B or C and D. Not in any other order. Hopefully when you’re reading this, you’ll have plenty of time to practice the advice I’m giving.

If not, don’t fret. Panicking never helps.

So. Back to my point. First thing you’re gonna want to do when you flip over that big ol’ scary exam paper is allocate 30 minutes of reading time for yourself (20 if you’re doing the SL English Paper 1 exam).

Now look. It’s a 2 hour exam (an hour and a half for the SL English Paper 1) and no way are you going to get through that exam with a decent grade without prep.

During these 30 minutes, you need to be scribbling furiously on the texts. Bring highlighters with you or just underline or circle anything important.

Oh, and before I go on, you need to decide what you want to analyse. You can have a quick skim read and decide which to analyse more thoroughly or do a quick analysis of both sets of texts and then make a decision. It’s up to you.

Done with reading? Time to analyze

Here’s where the real fun begins.

Remember when I told you to highlight and circle anything important? You know like literary devices, thematic idea, tone of the writer, possible audience appeal, stylistic devices (which are the same as literary devices), and structure of the text?

Yeah well now you gotta analyse it all bit by bit. You realistically have about 15 (about 10 or so for SL) minutes by now.

If you’ve practiced past papers, which I highly suggest you do if you’re reading this ahead of the exam period, then 15 minutes (again, 10 for SL) should be enough time.

When you’re analyzing, remember it’s a comparison between the other text. So while you’re analyzing both texts, remember to ask yourself “Ok but how does this compare to the other text?”. This  has to translate into your writing.

You need to make it clear that you’re comparing and contrasting .

How you do it is up to you. What I used to do was write a whole paragraph on a point I had on a text and then in the next paragraph, start with “On the other hand, Text C tends to portray….” or if they were similar I’d go “Similarly, the author of Text D parallels Text C through the use of…..”

Another way I used to approach comparisons between texts was dedicate about half a paragraph for each text. With both methods though, you’re going to need to make sure you have a balance.

So basically each paragraph has to be of similar length to each other unless you have your points in the same paragraph. Then you have to make sure you have enough sentences dedicated to each point about the Texts.

Plan Out Your IB English Paper 1 exam response

I’m sorry to say but with your current time constraints, you’re gonna need to do a bit of multitasking and plan your way to that level 7.

While you analyze, your brain should be working overtime to try to paint some similarities and differences between the two texts.

Your essay obviously needs structure and you need to know how to do it. Here’s a good way of doing it. I used to write my paragraphs according to the following structure:

Audience/Purpose – Who is the author writing to and what is the purpose of them doing so?

Content/Theme – What’s actually in the text? Is there a theme you can detect?

Tone/Mood – What is the author’s tone? What kind of mood is he/she writing about?

Style – What kind of style do they write with? Formal, informal? Iambic pentameter or blank verse?

Structure – How does the author structure the text? Is there anything visually appealing? Images? Diagrams?

For each of these, I would write either two paragraphs, one point for each text. If I was rushing, I might squeeze both points into one paragraph. I would HIGHLY recommend you do the same.

SL students, you guys will benefit enormously if you follow what I’m saying. This is all the stuff that got me an overall level 7 in HL English. HL. Of course I’m saying that it’ll help given that you thoroughly practice these techniques. So it’s up to you really

So yeah. Up there is basically done for you plan. You should centre your analysis and reading around the plan I gave you above. Constantly ask yourselves the questions above and pick your texts apart finding answers to the questions:

“Ok what’s the likely target audience in this text? Why would the author target them? What’s the purpose ? Is it stated obviously or can I assume it?”

“What kind of content is it? What historical aspects does it refer to? What’s the thematic background of this piece?”

“What’s the tone the author is writing in? Why would he/she write in such a tone ? How about the mood that this afflicts on the reader? What can I say there?”

“What’s the writing style here? What kind of devices are used to achieve this effect?”

“Why does the author choose such a structure ? What can I say regarding this point?”

Ask yourselves those questions and find the answers as best you can. Remember it’s analytical. English is all about interpretation. So long as you have a solid argument, you can interpret the texts in any which way you want.

It’s not what you argue, it’s  HOW you argue. Are your analyses in depth enough to convince the examiner? That’s what you’ve gotta practice

Alrighty so that’s the first tip of this series. I’ll be sure to put up more posts relating to IB English Past Papers in future. I’ve still got Paper 2 to cover and I’m sure I’ll think of more tips to give for English Paper 1 in future.

On a side note though, I actually like giving past paper advice because the papers are quite similar for both HL and SL so the techniques I talk about can usually be put to the test in both cases.

Oh were you not looking for IB English Paper 1? Paper 2 you say? Never fear, Studynova is here .

Get help with these IB subjects

Yes, we love math and science 🔬.

  • NEW Math AA
  • NEW Math AI
  • Chemistry SL
  • Chemistry HL
  • Theory of Knowledge

What people say about us

That you explained all the topics I needed to pass my math studies exam. – J.E., Bellas Artes , Venezuela

[email protected] — All Rights Reserved © 2023 Studynova Online ApS.

Our courses are now part of OSC Study and they are no longer for sale on this website. Dismiss

Create a Free Studynova Account

This field is for validation purposes and should be left empty.

Already Registered? Login here

How do I answer paper 1?

Paper 1 is an unseen commentary paper. It can seem tricky at first but once you get the hang of it you can do very well on this paper!  I think its helpful to have a formula of how to answer these questions (I do have a worksheet for this and would share it with the student):

In the first five minutes, read the question three times. Firstly, just read. Second time, read and sum up the poem in one sentence. Thirdly, read and annotate as many different features as you can (I have a list of good features that I can share with the student). 

Plan. A helpful way to write these essays is with the following outline: 

Introduction- use your summary sentence to talk about the 'heart' of the poem/prose. You will tie all of the points you make throughout your essay to this heart. It should refer to the purpose/voice/message of the poem/prose. 

Use the following subtitles for each following paragraph:  Setting; character; action; structure; ideas

For each of these paragraphs, pick out different features you have identified in the poem, show how they contribute to setting, character, action, structure or ideas and link these to the central heart of the text. How do these features/aspects contribute to the overall purpose/thrust of the poem/prose?  conclusion- pick out a few features that are really important and sum up how they contribute to the 'heart' of the piece. keep this short and don't repeat yourself excessively!

A few top tips- quality is better than quantity, make sure you really think about the phrasing and language you are using for the essay; be quirky, adventurous and insightful with your interpretations; keep an eye on the time. 

  • Always check at the end to make sure your punctuation and spelling is perfect. 

Related English IB answers

"the title of a poem almost always offers the audience something signi cant to their reading and understanding. in the work of at least two poets you have studied, show how titles have affected your interpretations of the poems", how to "analyse the given poem for the theme of death by exploring the metaphors and other literary techniques"., how do i integrate literary terms into my analysis, how to approach an unseen english paper 1, we're here to help, company information, popular requests, © mytutorweb ltd 2013– 2023.

CEOP logo

Internet Safety

Payment Security

Cyber Essentials logo

Paper 1 is a stimulus/source based exam that is 75 minutes long. Regardless of whether you are taking Global Politics at HL or SL you sit this paper.

The paper will be based on one of the four core topics (see syllabus here for further details) of Power, Sovereignty and International Relations; Human Rights; Development; and Peace and Conflict.

The paper consists of four different sources (which may be a combination of written extracts, images, diagrams or graphs) and four different questions.

You must answer all four questions.

Before you even begin to read the sources, remember to…

what is a paper one

… because then, when you read the sources you already know exactly what you are looking for. You can decide for yourself what the ‘F’ stands for. OK, so far simple. Let’s take a look at exactly to tackle each of the different questions.

The important thing to remember here is that each question is testing a different assessment objective e.g. knowledge and understanding (AO1) or synthesis and evaluation (AO3).

Question 1:

The assessment objective for this question is AO1 (Knowledge and Understanding).

This means you need to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key political concepts and contemporary issues in global politics
  • Demonstrate understanding of relevant source material

The command terms to look out for in this question are:

  • Describe – give a detailed account
  • Define – Give the precise meaning of word, concept, phrase or physical quantity
  • Identify – Provide an answer from a number of possibilities
  • Outline – Give a brief account or summary

This question will ask you to extract information from one of the sources.

This information will probably be in the form of text (but may be an image or statistics so be prepared).

You will need to put the information into your own words to show that you have understood it.

You should probably write about 5 lines for this section.

Question 2:

The assessment objective for this question is AO2 (Application and Analysis). This means you need to:

  • Apply knowledge of key political concepts to analyse contemporary political issues in a variety of contexts
  • Identify and analyse relevant material and supporting examples
  • Use political concepts and examples to formulate, present and sustain an argument
  • Analyse – break down in order to bring out the essential elements or structure
  • Distinguish – make clear the differences between two or more concepts or items
  • Explain – give a detailed account including reasons or causes
  • Suggest – Propose a solution, hypothesis or other possible answer

This question is going to ask you to explain a concept.

In order to do this, you will need to use information in the sources as well as your own knowledge.

You must support what you say with examples.

For this section you should be looking to write around 200-250 words.

Question 3:

Ok, this is where things start to get a little bit more difficult but don’t let it stress you out. You’ve got this!

The assessment objectives for this question are AO3 (Synthesis and Evaluation) and AO4 (Use and Application of Appropriate Skills) This means you need to:

  • Compare, contrast, synthesise and evaluate evidence from sources and background knowledge (AO3)
  • Compare, contrast, synthesise and evaluate a variety of perspectives and approaches to global politics, and evaluate political beliefs, biases and prejudices, and their origins. (AO3)
  • Produce well-structured written material that uses appropriate terminology (AO4)
  • Organise material into a clear, logical, coherent and relevant response (AO4)
  • Compare and contrast – give an account of similarities and differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout
  • Contrast – give an account of the differences between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout
  • Compare – give an account of the similarities between two (or more) items or situations, referring to both (all) of them throughout

There are eight marks available for this question.

On order to pick up the full eight marks, you should be aiming to make at least four points (similarities/differences depending on the command term).

It is important that consider both sources equally…so, do not simply refer to ‘source B says…’ without using terms like ‘which contrasts with Source C because….’.

It is also a very good idea to consider what type of sources you are comparing/contrasting.

For example, one may be a newspaper article and the other might be a UN report.

How might this affect the relevance of each source?

You should be looking to write a minimum of 300 words in order to answer this question effectively.

Question 4:

Ok, so now we finally make it to question 4. This question requires more of an extended answer than the other questions. But first….

The command terms you can expect to see in this question are:

  • Discuss – offer a considered and balanced review that includes a range of arguments, factors of hypotheses. Opinions or conclusions should be presented clearly and supported by appropriate evidence.
  • Evaluate – Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations
  • Examine – Consider an argument or concept in a way that uncovers the assumptions and interrelationships of the issue

The best way to face this question is to think of it as a paper 2 essay but with some sources to help you answer it.

Obviously, your answer will be slightly shorter than for a typical paper 2 essay.

  • The first thing to remember is to use the sources – not only will they help you but you are being tested specifically on your ability to use sources as well as your own knowledge (AO3).
  • Like with everything else in Global Politics, you should be ready to support anything you say with examples. These examples should come from the source material and your own knowledge
  • Define any key terms – e.g. sovereignty, globalisation, power
  • Time is precious and you don’t have any to waste on ‘padding’ that doesn’t help you to answer the question. Keep your introduction and conclusion short and focused.
  • Make sure that for every claim you include you also include a counter-claim (the opposite point of view). This will help to maintain balance in your essay as well as demonstrate good evaluation skills. Remember, you can evaluate a claim by using a counter-claim.

You want to be looking to produce at least 600 words in this section of the paper

You can download a copy of the GloPo Paper 1 Bible produced by Paul Hart at UWC Li Po Chun by clicking on the image below.

This is a resource that offers excellent guidance when considering how best to tackle Paper 1.

what is a paper one

You must be logged in to post a comment.

' src=

  • Already have a WordPress.com account? Log in now.
  • Follow Following
  • Copy shortlink
  • Report this content
  • View post in Reader
  • Manage subscriptions
  • Collapse this bar
  • Clear Covers
  • Cutters & Trimmers
  • Conference Presentation
  • Other Desk Accessories
  • Staples & Staple Removers
  • Tape Dispensers
  • Binders & Archfiles
  • Certificate Holders
  • Clear book and Sheet Protector
  • Envelopes & Folders
  • File Holders & Dividers
  • Ballpens & Gels
  • Colouring Materials
  • Correction Supplies
  • Markers & Highlighters
  • Roller & Signpens
  • Desk Organisers
  • Writing & Note Pads
  • Photo & Sticker Paper
  • Carbon Paper
  • Continuous Forms
  • Copy & Multi-purpose Paper
  • Specialty Paper
  • Record & Activity Books
  • Laminating Film & Cash
  • Large Format Rolls
  • Vellum Board
  • Ink Cartridges
  • Printer Ribbon
  • Ink Bottles
  • Printer Labeller Tapes
  • Anker | Eufy Products
  • Calculators
  • Binding Machine
  • Bundy Clock | Biometric
  • Laminating Machines
  • Paper Shredders
  • Hard Drives & Data Storage
  • Mobiles & Laptops
  • Wearables & Accessories
  • Chargers & Power Strips
  • PC & Mobile Accessories
  • Black Shark Accessories
  • Smart Devices
  • Storage Boxes
  • Air Purifier
  • Stretch Films
  • Plastic Bags
  • Plastic Containers
  • Personal Care
  • Travel & Outdoor
  • Kids & Study
  • Tools & Transporation
  • Mobile Pedestal
  • Bed & Living

Biz Asia Trading Inc.

Paper One Digital (Presentation) Paper 100 GSM, A3

  • Regular price ₱700.00

PaperOne™ Digital is the premium quality paper you want to present any high-quality work using any inkjet or laser printer.

With added smoothness and unrivaled whiteness, it is a cut above other papers when it comes to impressing a reader with any high-resolution text or graphics.

Empowered by ProDigi™ HD Print Technology, it also works perfectly with the latest inkjet or laser printers.

(Image used is A3 size)

  • Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
  • Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.
  • Use left/right arrows to navigate the slideshow or swipe left/right if using a mobile device



  1. ORIGINAL PaperOne A4 Copier Paper 70gsm

    what is a paper one


    what is a paper one

  3. Buy Paper One Copier Paper 80gsm

    what is a paper one

  4. Paper One Digital Printing Paper

    what is a paper one

  5. Paper One Bond Paper A4 Sub24 80gsm

    what is a paper one

  6. E-Plus Stationery, Inc.

    what is a paper one


  1. Question 1(a) Paper One 2018

  2. Question 10 (a) Paper One 2015

  3. Which one is paper?

  4. Question 9 (a) Paper One 2015

  5. Predicted paper walkthroughs

  6. Sheet of paper Meaning


  1. What Is an 11 X 17 Paper Called?

    Paper measuring 11 inches wide and 17 inches long is called either tabloid or U.S. B, ANSI B or short grain. Paper that measures 17 inches wide and 11 inches long is referred to as ledger or long grain but is still considered U.S. B and ANS...

  2. What Happens If You Smoke Paper?

    While smoking paper is not as hazardous as smoking tobacco, any type of smoke inhalation is still unhealthy. Smoking paper with ink or other chemicals on it is more hazardous than smoking untreated paper.

  3. How Do You Make an Envelope Out of 8.5 X 11 Paper?

    To create an envelope out of 8.5 x 11 paper, start by folding the paper in half, touching one 8.5-inch side of the paper to the other. Crease, then unfold. Fold the bottom two corners upward until they touch the line left by the first fold;...

  4. IB English Paper 1 Explained

    Your ONE mission in Paper 1 · You need to discuss the characters, themes and plot of a chosen literary text, OR the visual and stylistic

  5. Paper One

    A close cousin of speeches, these short and complete texts pack a punch. Look carefully at how they're structured, how they use rhetoric, and how they end

  6. Premium Quality Office Printer Paper Supplier

    PaperOne features both multi-directional and dual-sided printability, is a range of premium quality home and office paper.

  7. DP History: Paper 1

    Paper 1 is a source paper in which students must answer four questions on four sources which are all related to one of the prescribed subjects.

  8. Paper 1 Resources

    Advisory Texts · Tone: authoritative, reasonable, commanding or trustworthy. · Tense: the imperative tense (also called the command tense) can be recognized by

  9. IB ENGLISH A: Paper 1 Checklist

    This video provides a checklist to ace Paper 1. Check us out at https://ibenglishguys.com/ Free document:

  10. IB English Paper 1

    With IB English Paper 1, it's all about textual analysis. You want to really immerse yourself in the paper and get your brain cranking out good questions and

  11. How do I answer paper 1?

    In the first five minutes, read the question three times. Firstly, just read. Second time, read and sum up the poem in one sentence. Thirdly, read and annotate

  12. Paper 1

    Paper 1 is a stimulus/source based exam that is 75 minutes long. Regardless of whether you are taking Global Politics at HL or SL you sit this paper.

  13. Paper One Digital (Presentation) Paper 100 GSM, A3

    PaperOne™ Digital is the premium quality paper you want to present any high-quality work using any inkjet or laser printer. With added smoothness and

  14. What is the meaning of paper 1 or paper 2 in the UPSC or ...

    To make a distinction between qualifying papers and scoring papers the pattern of segregation has been used, i.e. A and B represent