Paper 2: Choosing your questions and texts wisely

As an IB examiner for Paper 2 I often read very eloquent and promising
responses that are hindered by poor question and/or text choices. Here’s some tips to avoid this.

The questions

The actual questions change every year, there are, however, certain aspects of a text that are frequently asked about, these include:

  • How a writer presents characters and how they communicate and reveal their thoughts, feelings, and motivations to the audience.
  • How writers offer their thematic concerns, ideas, and attitudes to the audience.
  • The form or structure of the plays/text/poem and the ways this may affect the audience or overall message/idea of the text.
  • The use of a dramatic feature, consider poetical devices, dramatic devices and literary elements contained in a text. Try to explore both explicit and implicit use of these aspects.

Try not to choose the question that initially appears to be the most straight forward. Often more complex questions will lead to a more exciting and considered response that not only showcases personal interpretation, but most importantly allows an authentic voice to be heard in your essay.

Once you have settled on your question, identify all the key terms, and then carefully consider which texts will most effectively allow you to address the question.

Choosing your texts

Remember that the questions are general and allow you a great deal of
breadth in your response. Consider carefully which two texts will work best for your selected question, jot down some ideas to ensure that your pairing will offer sufficient examples to address your question. I would recommend using two Part Three texts only, as specified by the question. If you are using poetry, ensure that you use a minimum of two poems per poet.

And finally, ensure that you do not lose sight of the question in your
response, stay focused on your thesis and address all aspects of your argument as outlined in your introduction.

Always proofread and good luck.

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