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.