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 20

Thomas English 3 December 2013 - 18:51

Hi Kristin, I would also appreciate a copy. tpinglis@hotmail.com
Thank you.

Erik Meek 4 December 2013 - 20:14

Hi Kristin,

Could I have a copy too?

Thanks!

Erik (mee@csvvg.eu)

adina olteanu 8 December 2013 - 14:51

Hi Kristin,

I would really appreciate a copy of your booklet. Thank you very much. My email is adinolt@gmail.com

Aartje Poutsma 16 December 2013 - 19:42

Hi David,

Is a debate a good form for a written task 1?
Regards.
Aartje
pou@dewillem.nl

David McIntyre 18 December 2013 - 09:40

Can you provide more specific detail, Aartje? If you'd prefer I email you, let me know please.

Thanks.

Aartje Poutsma 26 December 2013 - 12:47

Hi David, my email address is pou@dewillem.nl

Christa Bauerschmidt 17 January 2014 - 18:50

Hi, I've got a question concerning the Written Tasks HL - if the submitted Written Task 1 is about Part 4 Literature Critical Study - does the second WT1 for the portfolio have to be about Part 1 or 2 or is it also possible to do it about Part 3?

David McIntyre 18 January 2014 - 01:43

Hi Christa, If one Written Task is based around Part 4, the other must come from Parts 1 or 2. This week's publication - Written Tasks: A Student's Guide to Getting it Right - may be useful for you.

Christa Bauerschmidt 18 January 2014 - 14:08

Hi David, I understood that - we did WT 1 on Part 3 and WT2 on Part 2.
- my question was about the WT1 that will not be submitted. The student's WT1 is from Part 3 - so can he do the one for the portfolio about Part 4 - or does it have to be about Part 1?

David McIntyre 19 January 2014 - 13:11

If the other Written Task 1 comes from Part 4 of the course, that is fine, Christa. In all honesty, I find the requirements a little hazy in regard to the proscriptions and prescriptions (if one reads the Subject Guide with a fine eye for detail). The intention, at the incipiency of the course, was that HL students would complete one Written Task per course part. I think that makes good sense in most circumstances. I have to say (maybe I shouldn't!) that I find it hard to believe that anyone from the IB will turn up to look through your filing cabinets. The rules for submission of Written Tasks for assessment are, of course, unequivocal and beyond dispute.

David

Christine Breitenbach 9 February 2014 - 02:13

Hello, I would really appreciate a copy of the booklet. Thank you very much. My email is cbreiten@lincoln.ed.cr

Wayne Hewerdine 14 February 2014 - 13:01

I would absolutely love a copy too please
waynehewerdine@hotmail.com

Kristin Bond 22 February 2014 - 02:53

Hello -- I only now just saw all of these comments...happy to see all the interest.
David - if you could let me know how to get you the booklet (email address), I will forward that on to you so that you can upload it.
I have made a booklet for each of the major SL assessments ... however, I will be publishing them on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.
The one for the written task will be made available on this site, and if you like what you see, then please feel free to visit my page on the website to download the others. My username is kjbond.

Kristin

David McIntyre 24 February 2014 - 02:30

david.mcintyre@uwcsea.edu.sg

Thanks.

Paul Harris 25 February 2014 - 13:44

Paul Harris any chance that I can also get hold of a copy of the booklet ?
Paul.Harris@saschina.org

Mark Beales 13 March 2014 - 03:14

I've just started marking a bundle of Written Tasks (SL) that IB has sent me. One interesting point is that when I attended a workshop on this course, we were told the Written Task had to be focused on one specific primary text (ie you could write about a particular news story in the Daily Mail but you couldn't do a WT based on tabloids in general).

A lot of the WTs I've received are based on very generic ideas (ie one talks about the portrayal of females in Disney movies, another is a parody of travel writing for single males).

So do students need their WTs to be based on one specific primary text or is it ok to be more general?

On a more general note, the WTs that did focus on a primary text often didn't include it in their submission; making it rather hard to judge how well they'd commented on it!

David McIntyre 13 March 2014 - 06:22

Hi Mark,

I think your question, whilst a good one, may be better addressed to your team leader. S/he may provide you with specific instructions I am unaware of.

The study guide asks that students show in their written tasks an understanding of the topic(s) or text(s) to which it refers. This was always unclear to me (and many, many others). Believe me, I went in search of clarity, but got none. Then, in the May 2013 Subject Guide, this appears: 'It is unsuitable to base a written task on stylistic imitation alone. An editorial, a speech or an advertisement, for example, is not a topic, it is a text type' (9). The implication of this, then, is that the grading criteria refers to a literary text (called 'works' in the PLA), not any other kind of text (on a course that is all about 'texts', and which are widely defined elsewhere in the study guide).

One may also enquire about how one determines understanding of 'topic'. Why is this being assessed? Why not find a mechanism to test learning outcomes? Also, if the grading criteria are opaque, this surely provides (greater) opportunity for inconsistency in marking.

I wish you best of luck in your search for clarity, Mark; perhaps you can post your findings. I recognise that I may not be answering your question; if what you report in your initial paragraph is the case then the study guide should confirm this.

Cheers,

David

Mark Beales 18 March 2014 - 08:21

Hi David,

I just had a general email from IB about the Written Tasks, which adds a little extra info. They do make a point of saying students can talk about a 'topic' so I guess that means it is ok to talk about a generic theme rather than one specific text.

Your point about not merely imitating a text type is interesting; I've had quite a few WTs so far that do just that and don't really analyse any of their chosen topic. Accordingly, they've scored quite poorly.

My reading of the guidelines is that students could, however, use a speech or editorial, for example, as their text type but that would be merely the vehicle for them to discuss another topic or text. So using an editorial would be a good way to criticise sexist advertising.

In the syllabus for exams starting in 2015, it does say WTs should 'show a critical engagement with an aspect of a text or a topic'. Surely, then an advertisement would be a legitimate text to analyse? As you say, it does seem quite vague.;

A couple of other minor points were that in the rationale, anything under 800 words doesn't lose marks. Another comment was that “Topics” chosen for the tasks must relate to the programme." Given the breadth of possibilities in Parts 1 and 2, I'm not sure if that helps too much!

Hope that helps.

David McIntyre 19 March 2014 - 08:41

Thanks for the response, Mark.

I sense we have similar views. In the context of this forum, it seems wise (for me) to be prudent!

Best of luck with the marking. I'll get mine in a few weeks from now!

Cheers,

David

Mark Beales 20 March 2014 - 11:28

I've just received some feedback about the WT queries I sent.

They say a student can use a topic (not just a single text) for their WT. They also said a student could even tackle more than one topic or area of study, but one text or topic should be the main focal point.

They added that it's fine for a student's text type to be the same kind as their primary text (ie they could do an editorial about another editorial).

That's different from the advice I was given at the start of the course, but I guess things move on and become more defined, so I hope this response is of use.

In general, I've found the WTs that attempt to merely mimic a certain style or genre work less well than the ones who pick a single text as their launchpad and focus on analysing that. Not always, but most of the time. I'd be interested to know if others feel the same way.

Regards
Mark


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