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IB English Mocks Review: “And the most valuable study resource of all is…”

You. Repeat: you (singular and plural).

English teachers are pleased to report that the mock exams sat by students in February were a success. A clear majority of students sitting English Language and Literature achieved a Level 6 or 7. More pleasing, though, is that every student produced some passages of very high quality in their writing. Marks were lost where essays failed to be consistently detailed or missed out a key element for assessment, such as context or analysis of literary features for one of the texts, rather than lost for a general lack of sophistication required for a higher band.

The message is clear: you can do it! Revise your notes and practise timed sample questions until you can write an essay where every paragraph matches or betters the quality of your strongest passages from the mock. On another positive point, we were struck by the variety of personal responses we saw to set texts in both classes. In addition to taking personal responsibility for working hard and thoughtfully, get help from your classmates, ask each other questions, study together, share ideas and approaches, push each other. The most valuable resource is…


IB Internal Assessments              

The Individual Oral Commentary is an important aspect of the IB Language and Literature course which allows students to demonstrate their speaking skills in a formal context.  For ten minutes, students are recorded as they deliver a literary analysis exploring a particular extract’s formal elements and meaning. They must demonstrate:

  • knowledge and understanding of the text;
  • understanding of the use and effects of literary features;
  • effective and coherent organization;
  • effective use of vocabulary, tone, sentence structure and literary terminology.

The commentary is worth 15% of the student’s overall IB English grade and is assessed by the classroom teacher and again by an external IB examiner.

Currently, our Year 12 Higher Level students are preparing for this assessment which will be conducted in June 2014. The works we are studying closely are Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), and a selection of war poetry by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.  These selections meet IB’s requirement of works from different continents and time periods as well as being of different genres.


An Individual Oral Commentary from Hanne Arts based on Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen:

‘Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth is a commemorative poem of Owen's time as an English soldier during World War I.  It shows the differences between the glorified expectations of the fighting versus the harsh realities of war.   The poem employs numerous literary devices which include visual imagery, personification, and symbolism, which result in the poem coming alive for the reader.

In the first stanza, the poet uses auditory imagery. In line 7, in which shells are described as "shrill, demented choirs", the reader hears the actual danger flying overhead.  It heightens the tension and brings us to the battlefield where the normally positive sounds of a ‘choir’ are turned into painful and horrible sounds. A similar effect is created in line 3 with the alliteration of "r" when describing "the stuttering rifles rapid rattle" as we hear the shooting of guns. The guns are personified and possess a "monstrous anger" which brings the scene alive by showing that even the inanimate objects were angry as a result of the war.