Paper 1

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 basics

  •  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.

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.

Comments 8

Sherry Van Hesteren 14 March 2016 - 20:53

Hi David,
A student is wondering if she can create portions of a graphic novel for her Written Task 1 (rationale + graphic novel of scene from Part IV text).


Sherry Van Hesteren
Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Tim Pruzinsky 15 March 2016 - 07:05

Hi Sherry,

My understanding is that you have read a Part 4 text and she wants to take a scene from a play (for example) and turn it into a page or two from a graphic novel.

While I think this is really quite creative, and tough to do, I’m not sure about Criterion B though. How can she show her understanding of the text if it is just a re-creation of the plot, albeit in another genre? I don’t think this will demonstrate her understanding of the scene as best she could.

And although the rationale can help her out with this enormously, I’m not sure she has the word count in which to fully explore what she wants to show. In other words, I’m skeptical.

I would share your concerns with her, but I do ultimately let students make a poor decision if that is their choice after consulting with me and knowing the risks.



Geraldine Farrell 8 April 2016 - 10:31

Geraldine Farrell 8 April 2016 - 10:29
Is it possible to add additional examples of Paper 1s, in particular? I find them incredibly helpful with my classes but I have exhausted the examples. It is especially helpful to have the examiner's comments and we use this resource fruitfully for class discussion and for students to have a turn at marking work comparing their grades and comments with the official grade ones.

Many thanks


David McIntyre 8 April 2016 - 13:40

Hi Geraldine,

I think we have, at the time of writing, 25 sample Paper 1 responses on the site. Whilst we aim to add more (and a broader range), I think our current selection is reasonable. We need to ensure that there is a good balance of materials on the site. As a subscriber, we guarantee you a 'significant update' every week. As we update the site, we will include, amongst other materials, Paper 1 samples.

Best regards,


Chandreyee Dasgupta 25 October 2016 - 05:03

Dear Tim and David.
I am creating a Paper 1 for my HL students. For option 1, I have chosen a page from Maus ( Graphic Novel by Art Art Speigelman) and an extract from The Girl on the Train. Both texts have a train and the characters' reactions to it as the central focus. Are my choices valid?

Tim Pruzinsky 25 October 2016 - 14:47

Hi Chandreyee,

I think your Paper 1 (HL) practice exam would work. I know the part from Maus well. It's a haunting scene in many respects. And the tenuous link to trains or movement seems like it would work for giving students a starting point, but not more than that. My only fear is that they both read like fiction - although Maus is nonfiction of course.

However, in preparing students for their Paper 1, this seems like a well-thought out practice exam in which students could be very successful. I would say go for it!


Lisa Stone 2 December 2016 - 13:17

Hi All, Nearly time to finalise which WT1 to send to IBO...
Please can you advise. In a transcript of university lecture, I am right in assuming that the timings of the speech (identified in the margin) would not contribute to the word-count.
Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Tim Pruzinsky 2 December 2016 - 22:49

Hi Lisa,

I don't know if I fully understand what this actually looks like in practice. If it looks more like footnotes, I would say no, it's not included in the word count. If it looks like an integral part of the WT, I would say yes, it should be included. I know you say it's in the margins, but in terms of the integrity of the text type, I'm not sure if timings belong.

As I google some examples from universities in the UK (Reading and Birmingham popped up first), one had just the total time included. In that case, I would argue it is part of the word count.

Without actually seeing it, I can't be definitive here. I would say if it feels like a part of the text type, include it. If it feels like a side note, footnote, or marginal note, don't.


To post comments you need to log in. If it is your first time you will need to subscribe.