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IB English Individual Oral Solved: A Guide for Lit and Lang/Lit Students

The IB English Individual Oral (IO) is one of the most daunting IB assessments. But it can be made so much easier by understanding how to prepare a top-quality script and concise dot points so you can smash it on the day!

Today, we reveal our best approach to the IO including a structure which you can use as a foundation for your preparation and a breakdown of the marking criteria.

 

Selecting a Global Issue, Texts and Extracts


Start by choosing your texts. Try to choose texts that have interrelated themes – they don’t need to be exactly the same, but for instance you may choose one text which considers racial prejudice while another explores sexism. This would allow you to consider the common theme of ‘prejudice’, ‘oppression’ or ‘discrimination’ as a part of your global issue. Also, ensure they are texts that you enjoy and are confident to talk about, as you will be asked additional questions after your speech. For literature students, you will choose two literary texts while language and literature students will choose one literary and one non-literary text.


When selecting a global issue, start by selecting a real-world issue that is present within both texts and easy to identify. Some common examples include the patriarchy, authoritarianism, oppression, identity and grief. When wording your global issue, make sure to transform these singular word themes into holistic issues.


For example, rather than just ‘oppression’, your global issue may be ‘the oppressive nature of gender roles on self-expression’.


Finally when selecting an extract from each text, try to choose a section which is relevant to your global issue and is packed with devices for technical analysis.

 

Structure

While each school has their own way of structuring the IO, there are some common elements which are absolutely essential.


Introduction


1. Introduce the Global Issue – Global and Local Scale

Spend 1-2 sentences explaining your global issue, justifying its transnational and local impact – essentially explain how it is a ‘global’ issue and also one which is relevant on a smaller scale, such as how it has impacted your own life.


2. Introduce Texts, Extracts and Relate to the Global Issue

Introduce your texts and their connection to the global issue. You should also briefly introduce your extract (although you don’t need to contextualise just yet, this can happen later).

 

Main Body (for each text)


One highly contentious issue is how the main body should be structured. There are two main structures which we can recommend, each of which have the same components involving evidence from the extract and the broader body of work:

 

1. Integrated Analysis

  1. Text 1 – Extract and Body of Work Integrated Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples from Extract and 3 from BOW)

  2. Text 2 – Extract and Body of Work Integrated Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples from Extract and 3 from BOW)


In this structure, you alternate between extract and body of work analysis, using the extract as a ‘springboard’ to discuss the broader BOW. For example, if your extract quote considers the use of animalistic imagery as a method of dehumanising a character, you may jump from this analysis to a quote from the broader BOW which also considers either dehumanisation/animalistic imagery. The benefit of this structure is that there is thematic flow, although some schools may prefer you utilise an alternative structure which is more clearly divided.

 

2. Segmented Analysis

  1. Text 1 – Extract Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples)

  2. Text 1 – Body of Work Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples)

  3. Text 2 – Extract Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples)

  4. Text 2 – Body of Work Analysis (3 Quotes/Examples)


This structure is far simpler – you work through the selected evidence from the extract first and then your BOW separately. The benefit of this structure is its clear division between extract and BOW which allows you to maintain the flow of your analysis for each.


BUT HOW DO I CHOOSE BETWEEN THE STRUCTURE?


Very simple – propose both to your class teacher and let them decide which structure they prefer. Both structures have all the essential components and the IB doesn't express a preference for any specific structure.


And as for what goes into your analysis, it’s just like your usual English analysis – quote/provide evidence, identify a technical device, analyse the effect of the technical device and link to the global issue (Hint: Mix around each of the QTAL elements to improve your flow).

 

Conclusion


1. Reiterate the Global Issue

Briefly restate your global issue.


2. Restate the Main Point for Each Text (related to the Global Issue)

Summarise your main point on the global issue for each text.

 

 

Question Time


The first 10 minutes of the oral will be your prepared content, which is approximately 1300-1600 words for your script. The next 5 minutes will be spent responding to questions set by your teacher. These questions are designed to help you pick up marks in areas that were underdeveloped or unclear to your teacher. There are two ways to prepare for this component:


  1. Learn your texts (REALLY, REALLY WELL): The more you know about your texts, the easier it will be to produce quality answers and spontaneously bring up evidence from the texts to support your points. Remember also to always link back to your global issue in your responses.

  2. Practice, practice, practice!: Practice with your friends and peers, or seek help from one of our IB tutors. We have helped hundreds of students over many years through their internal assessments, including their IO, and we can provide in-class practices with helpful feedback that will have you prepped for your final IO.

 

The Marking Criteria


So, we have a structure to work from and we've looked at the questioning component, but how is this oral task going to be assessed? Let's break down the marking criteria so you can maximise your marks!

 

Criterion A: Knowledge, Understanding and Interpretation (10 marks)

This criterion is assessing your knowledge and understanding of both the body of work and extract – it's your job to show that you know the texts really well. Use evidence (at least 3 for each extract and 3 from the wider body of work, per text) and make sure you are always linking to the global issue. This is important, as the top band of this criterion requires you to make a "persuasive interpretation" of the implications of your text in relation to the global issue.

 

Criterion B: Analysis and Evaluation (10 marks)

This criterion is assessing your ability to analyse "authorial choices"…so literary and non-literary techniques. Make sure you consider a variety of techniques – these include specific features such as metaphors, similes, alliteration and broader features such as structure, tone, mood and voice. For language and literature students, particularly for your non-literary work, ensure you also analyse non-literary features. And as always, this criterion also assesses your ability to link the effect of these techniques back to your global issue.

 

Criterion C: Focus and Organisation (10 marks)

This criterion assesses a few different areas and it is REALLY easy to score highly, if you do three key things.


  1. Stay focused on the Global Issue – You must maintain a "clear and sustained focus on the task" which means keeping in mind that every analytical point you make on the extracts/works should be directed to unpacking an element of your global issue.

  2. Keep it Balanced – Your treatment of the extracts/works must be "well-balanced". This is assessed in many different ways – some schools take this criterion quite literally and will time how long is spent on extract vs body of work analysis, others will compare the number of pieces of evidence and some may simply consider the balance holistically and thematically. In any case, play it safe and make sure that your word counts for each section are relatively similar (within 50-100 words of each other).

  3. Build your Global Issue – The development of your ideas must be "logical and convincing…connected in a cogent manner". This means that you must develop your global issue from the ground up – for example, if your global issue concerns rebellion against oppressive totalitarian authorities, your analysis may first involve a piece of evidence to establish the oppressive nature of the state and then your second piece of evidence can introduce an example of the protagonist rebelling against the totalitarian power.

 

Criterion D: Language (10 marks)

This criterion is very familiar across all your English tasks – make sure to refine your language and when actually presenting your oral, ensure that you sound enthusiastic and use an appropriate tone. Think about the most passionate English teacher you have had and then multiply that by 10…you want to sound like you are genuinely engaged with your analysis.

 

And that's it! This guide to the IO has given you everything you need to get started, but if you are looking to secure top marks, reach out to us and we can arrange sessions with our specialised IB tutors to help you prepare your script, practice and succeed in your English Individual Oral task!


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