Paper 1 is a (comparative) textual analysis of one or two unseen texts. This section provides various ideas to develop the necessary Skills for Paper 1. Sample Paper 1s are provided, so that you can learn through example and become familiar with the criteria. Finally, we have also provided a short list of tips, which should help you prepare for the exam in a more focused way.
The Paper 1 asks students to comment on one of two texts within one and a half hours.
The Paper 1 asks students to compare and contrast one of two pairs of text within two hours.
Passages for analysis may be complete pieces of writing or extracts from larger works. There is also the possibility of commenting on a visual text or an extract from a longer piece. Possible text types for analysis include: advertisements, opinion columns, brochures, extracts from memoirs, or travel writing.
One of the texts from one of the pairs may be a literary text.
Each individual text is presented with two guiding questions. HL students will not have guiding questions.
Paper 1 counts for 25% of the final grade. It is assessed externally.
As a side note, all of this information is geared towards SL English Lang and Lit, but I’m sure that with a few adjustments it could be applied to HL as well.
So let’s get started:
How to Structure Your Essay:
A. Introductory Paragraph
a) Motivator (address the question or statement)
b) Background Summary (brief background to the texts and authors)
c) Thesis (what are you trying to prove?)
d) Focus (how will you prove your thesis? This is where you state your arguments)
B. Points (aka each body paragraph embodies this layout-aim for 3-4 paragraphs)
a) Point (topic sentence)
b) Evidence (quotation or description)
c) Analysis (specific focus on literary techniques)
d) Link (back to the topic in the question)
C. Concluding Paragraph
a) State Thesis (using different words/phrases)
b) Summary of Main Arguments (do not include new information)
c) Clincher (final sentence: should leave examiner satisfied you have covered all areas, but should also attempt to provoke further inquiry, or new dimension of looking at question)
If you want to see an essay that I actually wrote following this template, subscribe to our mailing list (by going on the subscribe tab above) because I can’t post it here due to plagiarism concerns + functionality.
So, this is the structure you want to follow. A common query that students have is in regards to how they should mention their quotes whilst writing their essays. What I like to do is integrate them really fluidly within my paragraphs; this takes practice, but here are a few examples below from my writing:
Natsume identifies intricacies and details in British culture that seem entirely foreign to him coming from Japan; he notes the impeccable fashion sense that surrounds him: ‘herds of women walk around like horned lionesses with nets on their faces’and notices a distinct height difference ‘but when we rush past one another I see he is about two inches taller than me’ (Natsume in Phillips, R161). Natsume’s experience as an outsider in Britain, according to Caryl Philips, ‘helped him to become the fully mature and outstandingly gifted writer that he subsequently became’ (Phillips, R161).
I hope you can see what I’m trying to do; note that each quote naturally compliments the flow of the paragraph. You never need to explicitly state that you are about to use a quote; rather, just insert it within your body as nicely as you can. I’ll be sending out more examples via email later.
The thesis statement of your essay is also extremely important; many English teachers have told me that often to gauge a writer’s quality they examine his thesis statement. The more clear and compelling it is, the more credibility you gain as a writer in their eyes. Remember that you should be aiming to provide an argument; otherwise, your whole essay won’t really have any meaning or substance (every single word you write should in some way back that thesis up).
In this novel, Kanye West argues that we cannot justify the usage of drones and that their increased prevalence is harmful to members of society.
Though there may be considerable advantages to the usage of drones, West attempts to demonstrate that the worrying possibilities of mass surveillance and civilian losses, specifically in regards to the recent incidents in Orange County, are ultimately too precarious a path to follow.
I’m going to be honest: You should try to use flowery language to spice up your essays. It’s just the truth. Before you go sit that exam, go on www.thesaurus.com and try to replace some common words you’d use with some nice, juicy ones.
In terms of transitioning between paragraphs aim to be clear and simple. ‘It is possible to see the idea of..’ or ‘One argument put forward is…’ are pretty good.
Now, listen up: I’m about to share a very valuable piece of advice with all of you:
Get your whole class to create a shared Google Doc with the following table: