Written tasks

Throughout this course, you will build a portfolio of written tasks. There are two types of written tasks, known as written task 1 (WT1) and written task 2 (WT2). These are very different in nature.

Written task 1 is an 'imaginative piece' in which you demonstrate your understanding of the course work and a type of text. For example you could write a letter from one character to another character from a novel that you have read for Part 3 or 4. Or you could write a journalistic review of a speech that was studied in Part 1 or 2. Because the possibilities are endless, it is easy to write irrelevant work. Therefore it is important that you look at several samples and several tips for guidance on the written task 1.

Written task 2 pertains to HL students only. It is a critical response to a text or texts, written in light of one of six prescribed questions from the IB Language A: Language and Literature guide. These questions can be answered using texts from all parts of the syllabus.

Remember: An essay is not an acceptable type of text for the written task 1. Students are encouraged to step into someone's shoes, explore a different role and practice writing different types of texts. The Paper 2 and the written task 2 provide opportunities for students to practice essay writing.

WT1 basics

  • Written task 1s are between 800-1000 words long.
  • Students must write a rationale of 200-300 words, explaining the decision making process behind the task. The rationale should offer the examiner the necessary background information for a good understanding of the task. For more on rationale writing click here.
  • Written tasks may be done at home or in school under teacher guidance. Teachers are not supposed to prescribe a type of task. Rather they should facilitate the process and guide students towards successful ideas. While general feedback may be given, the work must be the student's own.
  • Students submit one WT1 task from their portfolio.
  • Students submit two tasks from their portfolio: one WT1 and one WT2. See table below:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Minimal in portfolio 1 (+1)* 1 (+1)
To submit to IB 1
Minimal in portfolio 1 1 1 1
To submit 1* 1*

* At SL students must have written at least three written tasks 1s. One must be on Parts 1 and 2, one must be on Parts 3 and 4, and the other can be on any part. Again this is a minimum requirement.

* One of the two tasks submitted at HL is a written task 1 and the other is a written task 2, meaning that HL students submit either 'possibility 1' or 'possibility 2' from the table below.

HL only Parts 1 & 2 Parts 3 & 4
Possibility 1 written task 1 written task 2
Possibility 2 written task 2 written task 1

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

WT1: what it is and what it is not

The written task 1 can be difficult to write, if you do not understand the nature of the task. Here is a table to clarify this form of assessment.

What it is not What it is

A creative writing assignment
WT1 is not the opportunity to write a fantastical short story, a hypothetical play script or a cryptic poem. If you want to write a new ending to a novel or a missing chapter, it has to be in the spirit of the author’s intentions. WT1 is not solely the product of your imagination.

A type of text
Instead, you have to show that you have understood a ‘text type’. Each text has structural conventions. For example, if you write a speech, it has to have rhetorical devices that are characteristic of speech writing. Be sure that the text type lends itself well to the content you are writing about. Study a few examples of the text type that you want to write.

Out of context
It is not enough to state in your rationale, “I’m writing a opinion column about advertising.” In which magazine or newspaper does your column appear? Is it in the style of a particular columnist?

In context
Place your WT1 in a context. For example, if you want to write an opinion column about advertising, write about a particular ad campaign that has received attention in the news. Imitate the style of a famous columnist. What would he/she say in response to a topic?

A persuasive essay
WT1 is not a test of your opinion. This is not your chance to vent your frustrations about a particular topic that you feel passionate about.

An understanding of course work
Instead, WT1 is a test of the course work. How will you demonstrate your understanding of language and/or literature? Is your written task rooted in a particular text?

A summary
Examiners are not interested in reading the summary of a text that you read. This is not a ‘book report’.

An interpretation
There should be some evidence of critical thinking. For example, writing a letter from one character to another provides you the chance to show that you’ve understood the work thoroughly.

WT2 basics (HL only)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

SL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

To submit

1

HL

Minimal in
portfolio

1

1

1

1

To submit

1*

1*

  • Written task 2s (also called 'critical responses') are between 800-1000 words.
  • Written task 2 is a critical response to a text which answers one of six prescribed questions from the Language A: Language and Literature guide.
  • Written task 2s can be based on texts taken from anywhere in the syllabus, from Part 1 to Part 4.
  • Each written task 2 must be accompanied by an outline, which must be written in class. The outline contains the following.
    • the prescribed question that has been chosen
    • the title of the text(s) for analysis
    • the part of the course to which the task refers
    • three or four key points that explain the particular focus of the task
  • The guide states that "the critical response is based on material studied in the course." The term 'material' is open to interpretation. For example this could mean that students may have studied rhetorical devices in class (the 'material') and may find a speech outside of class to analyze.

Comments 18

David Sumner-smith 27 January 2015 - 13:28

Hello David, I am a bit confused about the number of written task 1s that are required in the portfolio. Do students write a WT1 for all four parts, or are students required to write four Written Tasks in total (both WT1 and WT2)? Also, is it acceptable for the two written tasks submitted to be from parts 3 and 4, in other words, both from the Literature part of the course?

thank you for you help.

David

David McIntyre 28 January 2015 - 13:12

Hi David,

I'm assuming you are referring to HL students. Students do not write four WT1s; they write four WTs in total, a combination of WT1s and WT2s. The spirit of the course is probably that students write one WT from each part of the course (2 x WT1; 2 x WT2), although I don't think this is adequately conveyed in the study guide (for SL, things are clearer).

However - and this is important - students may not submit two written tasks both from parts 3/4, or 1/2. Rather the WTs submitted must reflect the topic options studied (for either WT1 or WT 2) and the literary texts studied (whichever WT was not submitted for the topic option WT).

Let me know if things remain unclear.

Cheers,

David

John McCune 12 February 2015 - 03:49

So my L&L students did a WT1 rough draft, I gave some oral suggestions, and they submitted a final written version. I have read these, made notes to myself, and assigned predicted marks. My question now is the extent to which I should share these remarks with the students. I won't let them change the version they turned in, but is there anything wrong with given them a rather extensive critique of their papers? It occurred to me that if they agree that these won't "count" as one of their 3-4 minimum WTs (requiring them, then, to do an additional WT), I might even mark the papers up with the normal teacher comments. What do you think?

Tim Pruzinsky 12 February 2015 - 05:50

Hi John,

I think your plan makes perfect sense. Providing feedback to the students to help them become stronger writers seems valuable. And as long as you stick to the parameters you stated above, it fits within the IB guidelines. I say you go for it.

Best,

Tim

Estella Bastide 13 February 2015 - 19:34

Hello,
One of my HL would like to submit a WT2 analysing the presentation of Caliban in The Tempest as representative of a social group (colonised natives). It makes sense in the context of her argument, but is it an acceptable response to the prescribed question about how/why a social group is presented in a text? The Tempest is unusual in having Caliban as the only native of the island and my student is interested in a post-colonial reading. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tim Pruzinsky 14 February 2015 - 02:48

Hi Estella,

From the information you have provided, it seems to work well. The question is "How and why is a social group represented in a particular way?" If your student works with how Caliban is presented as a colonized native (the social group being addressed) in "The Tempest," and argues both how and why this is the case, it seems like it could turn into a strong WT2.

If the worry is that Caliban is the only character and therefore isn't representative of a social group because he is the only one, I would have the student briefly address this issue somewhere in the essay. But it seems to me to be a minor and moot point. I say you proceed!

Best,

Tim

Estella Bastide 14 February 2015 - 21:00

Brilliant, thank you for your advice, I feel reassured!

Sajani Kaplingat 15 February 2015 - 09:53

Dear Tim, David,
I would like my students to include your website as a source of support in their reference page as I would not have been able to guide them had this website not been there right from the time Brad Philpot initiated it. Could you tell me how they should acknowledge this site in their reference page?

Tim Pruzinsky 15 February 2015 - 11:12

Hi Sajani,

This is actually a tough one. It all depends on what they are citing. If you copy/paste this url it will explain more: owl.english.purdue.edu /

I am an MLA type of guy. Not all people cite this way. And it depends on if your students are citing the entire website or a specific page. Again, if you go to that url, it will explain in more detail.

For the entire webpage though, in MLA (which means the students will have an in-text citation within the WT itself. If not, a Works Cited listing this site is not needed), it would be:

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

So,

McIntyre, David and Pruzinsky, Tim. IB English A: Language and Literature. InThinking, Date of Resource Creation. Web. Date accessed.

Take out my name if it was accessed before February. Know that I can't italicize as needed nor indent in this comment section. I hope that helps, but since I don't know what they are citing, it is tough to give a "correct" answer.

Best,

Tim

Sajani Kaplingat 15 February 2015 - 11:32

Thanks for the quick reply, Tim. I encourage my students to use easybib for their citation. It is MLA that we use. It is the entire site that we are indebted to. I want them to include it, as I said in my last comment, I have been able to go through the course thanks to your website.

imran atmaca 22 February 2015 - 01:05

Hi David, got my answer to word count for WT1 ... thanks anyhow

David McIntyre 22 February 2015 - 12:13

Hi Imran,

What are you referring to?

David

imran atmaca 26 February 2015 - 07:50

is there a recommended word count for the outline of WT2 and also can students write the essay on literature studied outside of the PLA and PLT .,, I have students whose best piece is answering a question based on literature not on the prescribed lists.

Tim Pruzinsky 26 February 2015 - 23:36

Hi Imran,

There is no word count that I know of. However, I would make sure it isn't an essay disguised as an outline.

As for your second question, it's a bit more tricky. No, students may not write their WT2 from something studied outside your syllabus. However, you do get to choose 1 text in Part 3 that is "Free Choice." If students have written their WT2 on the free choice text, then it is okay. If students are writing about literature for WT2, it can only come from the 6 texts that you have taught (with one of those being "free choice").

Best,

Tim

imran atmaca 1 March 2015 - 00:54

Hi Tim/David,
The study guide (p.17) suggests for parts 3 and 4 - a minimum of 4 for SL and 6 for HL - literary texts to be studied. We have studied 8 so can all 8 be used for the written tasks? I've taken minimum to be literal, though in other parts of the guide they refer to 4 and 6 specifically.

imran atmaca 1 March 2015 - 01:00

Also, the guide states that the 4 written tasks (HL) relate to the 4 areas of study. Does that mean that theoretically and practically, students can choose their Essay question based on part 2 and Text type submission on Part 1? or for that matter WT1 on part 3 and WT2 on part 4?

Tim Pruzinsky 1 March 2015 - 04:23

Hi Imran,

David may disagree with me here, but no, you should not be studying or submitting WTs from 8 different texts. Their English course is just one portion of their entire IB program and it's important for us to remember not to overload students.

If you as an individual teacher, department and/or school have decided 8 texts is necessary, that's a different story. But for the IB, 4 and 6 texts are set. So, you will need to decide on the 4 "official" SL texts and 6 "official" HL texts. Students should only submit from those.

As for your other question, no, students may not submit their WT1 on Part 1 and their WT2 on Part 2. One must come from Part 1 or 2. The other must come from Part 3 or 4.

I realize this might not be the answer you wanted to hear. More than anything, I hope my post helps clarify the issue(s) for you and your school.

Best,

Tim

David McIntyre 1 March 2015 - 08:09

Hi Imran and Tim,

It may be the case that the wording of the study guide is a little clumsy, and thus may be understood in a range of ways. However, I think that Tim's point about teachers needing to have a holistic overview of students' commitments is crucial; our course, even at HL, is only one course amongst several others. Demands on students should be balanced and reasonable.

David


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