At some point, sooner or later, whether you are a HL or SL student, you’ll see that IOC coming toward you.  You’ll be thinking such things as ‘how am I going to get through this?’ or ‘what can I do to prepare?’  Your teachers will have offered you a good many tips, some of which you took on board and others that have slipped away over time–or weren’t actually heard.  Teachers have diverse opinions about how best to do this, and the following list offers a pretty effective synthesis of what a group of teachers arrived at as good advice.

Some very good advice for HL/SL candidates facing the IA for Part 2


1. Take good notes in class, mark up your poems or your prose or plays, color code, so that you have easily accessible materials to revisit for review for both the IOC and the HL discussion.

2. Pace your review, not leaving it all to the day/night before. HL: aim for reviewing 2/3 poems per night. SL: Either review poems at the same rate or look through your texts and review passages highlighted in class or otherwise obviously important. Look through your discussion texts several times (HL).

3. Make a list of the outstanding/memorable features of the content and style of the author/works your studied for this assessment. Keep reviewing that.

Day of the IA assessment: actual preparation time and delivery time for the IOC

4. Create a one or two-sentence description of the context of the author: time, place, genre. (For SL passages, say where it occurs in the text). The oral is not about context, biography or all of the writer’s works; it is important that you get started with your analysis very quickly.

5. In your prep time, relax and read the selection more than once, marking it up. If you’ve gotten a selection you don’t like or wish you hadn’t, get over that fast. Sometimes that distance will make you even better at your critical analysis.

6. In your prep time, leave enough time to create an organization of what you will say; you might even use cards and color coding for highlighting things you want to be sure to remember. Be sure to number the cards or the pages of your notes.

7. Analyse, dig in, see what choices the writer makes and what effect they create. Don’t just paraphrase—you’ll know you’re doing that when you say things like ‘here the writer is saying’ or ‘what the writer means is.’

8. Remember to keep a balance between content and form. Don’t get so obsessed with pointing to ‘literary devices’ that you forget to convey your sense of the thought and feeling of the poem. Good to do this right away by saying something in the line of ‘this poem (or passage) is about…’

9. Remember that in 8 minutes you cannot say everything that it is possible to say about the selection. Choose what you think are the most important, and then go on to lesser things if there is enough time.

10. Your presentation will be more coherent if you use some tags or transitions such as ‘The element of the selection that most interested me, or ‘the next thing…’ or ‘ here Shakespeare leads us to believe…’ or ‘one puzzling element of the selection is…and I think…’