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 10

Caitlin Gray 29 August 2017 - 18:55

Hi David and Tim,
Would students ever receive a poem in Paper 1, at SL?

David McIntyre 29 August 2017 - 20:03

Hi Caitlin,

No - Paper 1 (SL) does not assess literary texts (including poems), although it may be argued that some of the non-fiction texts presented in exams have some literary qualities.

Kind regards,


elizabeth smith 30 January 2018 - 15:17

Hello David and Tim

How important is it for the hyperlinks to work when citing google images as part of the WT1. I think my student has got the link from an old source. I asked that he add these to his Reference page but then he realised the links don`t function.

Kind Regards


Tim Pruzinsky 31 January 2018 - 02:44

Hi Elizabeth,

If they don't work, but the student has tried to cite it properly - acknowledging that it is not his or her own work - they should be fine. It's the acknowledgement that is key here, clearing stating or showing it's not their work. If the link breaks down, I can't see that as being an issue.


elizabeth smith 1 February 2018 - 20:39

Hello Tim

Do the students have to respond to the text in translation as part of their paper 2 Examination response and clearly stipulate which it is in their response?

Best Wishes

Tim Pruzinsky 1 February 2018 - 23:44

Hi Elizabeth,

At SL, yes, as they only have 2 texts to work with. At HL, if your free choice isn't in translation, then no, they might not write about it.

However, in almost all cases, students will provide context. That context would usually make it clear that it is a Norwegian, Iranian, Japanese text or writer. So, a student might write that "A Doll's House" written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen..."

At that point, it's clear it's a text in translation. So, while not a requirement, it's hard not to do it.


elizabeth smith 2 February 2018 - 11:37

Dear Tim

Thank you.

I have another question about the submission of the Written Tasks. Do the students have to devise a front cover- apparently this is a new rule. Is there a format for the front cover?

Best Wishes


Tim Pruzinsky 3 February 2018 - 01:33

Hi Elizabeth,

What "rule" are you speaking about? They have to fill out a coversheet from the IB. You can get that from your IB Coordinator. And some schools do have students put a front cover, but as far as I know, it's not mandatory. Finally, do know that no identifying information (school, candidate number, name...) should appear on the task.


Anne LaGrand 2 February 2018 - 18:53

Could you give some advice in terms of how much time students should take in planning their essay v. writing it? I just did a practice Paper 1, and in my view, students did not spend enough time in close reading and planning. Rather, they plunged into writing, often writing more than needed - sometimes falling into repetition. What would you advise in terms of the time ratio?

Tim Pruzinsky 3 February 2018 - 01:36

Hi Anne,

It's going to be different for every single student, but at HL, I think 20-30 minutes of planning and 90-100 minutes of writing makes sense. Some might do a bit less, but 90 minutes is enough time to write a ton and 30 minutes of planning (at the top end) makes sense to me in terms of the thinking time needed to plan a response. For a percentage, think about 20-25%. That's my take and what I tell my students. Others may believe something else and that's okay too.


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