Individual oral commentary

The individual oral commentary (IOC) is a test on Part 4, a critical study of literature. By the time students take this oral exam SL students will have studied two works from the PLA, and HL students will have studied three works from the PLA. In class much preparation can be done to create confidence and understanding. For example students can be involved in the process of finding important passages from the literary works. Presentations on passages can be given in class. Teachers can draw students' attention to the assessment criteria. We recommend at least one round of mock orals before the final orals are conducted. Unlike the further oral activities, where the best performance counts, in the IOC, the last performance counts.

Both HL and SL students are assessed according to the same criteria. Differentiation between levels only occurs at the stage when grade boundaries are determined by the IB. Marks for the further oral activity are added together with the marks for the individual oral activity. Then they are divided by two. After moderation, grade boundaries are determined by the subject committee. Standard Level boundaries are more lenient than Higher Level boundaries. 

The basics

All of the following points apply to both Higher and Standard Level students:

  • Each student receives a 40-line passage from a work that he or she has studied for Part 4.
  • Students do not know which passage they will receive on this internal exam.
  • Each student has 20 minutes to prepare the passage.
  • Students must then talk about their passage for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 15 minutes. 
  • All orals must be recorded. Some will be sent to the IB for moderation.
  • After the 10th minute a 2 to 5 minute discussion may take place with the teacher.
  • The IOC counts for 15% of the final grade.
  • Teachers must ensure that there are enough passages to draw from during the oral exam. There should be an equal number of passages from all Part 4 works. The IB has stipulated the following total number of passages for class of these sizes (the following table is taken from the Language A: Language and Literature guide):
Number of students Number of extracts required
1-5 1 per student
6-10 6
11-15 7
16-20 8
21-25 9
26-30 10
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 72

Noah Mass 23 May 2017 - 04:17

Thanks, again. Back to the best means of distributing extracts: I'm not too happy with the way things worked out on our Mock IOC with my previous strategy of all 6 extracts in an equal number of envelopes; even though I randomized the order of extracts per envelope, a lot of students somehow ended up randomly choosing extracts from the same text. Perhaps 3 envelopes per student with 2 same-text extracts in each one, one of which they would pull out, would make things more equitable? What's your optimal distribution method? I have 10 students and 3 HL texts, so I'm crafting a total of 6 extracts (2 from each) for the IOC.

Tim Pruzinsky 23 May 2017 - 06:33

Hi Noah,

If I have 6 extracts, I create 6 envelopes, one for each extract (rather than 10 envelopes for 10 students with all 6 extracts in it). Students choose an envelope and that usually randomizes things well for me. I can understand that sometimes is doesn't, as is the case with your mock exams. I don't worry too much about it.

As long as I go about it in a way that makes it random, I'm okay with my process. Students selecting - by chance - one text over the other just happens sometimes.


Noah Mass 23 May 2017 - 22:30

So, each student is given a choice of 6 envelopes, he or she chooses one of the 6, and you then set things up again for the next student? I suppose that could work, too. I'll continue to play around with things.

Tim Pruzinsky 24 May 2017 - 00:41

Hi Noah,

That's the gist of it. It's worked for me for a long time. Others do it differently, but this is how I approach it.


Jane Hazle 1 June 2017 - 17:52

Hi Tim,
We are working on passages for the IOCs. Is it good form to include the Act and Scene numbers for passages from drama?

Tim Pruzinsky 1 June 2017 - 22:24

Hi Jane,

Unfortunately, you cannot include that information for drama texts. It must be the passage only. No identifying information can be included.

In other words, if students cannot identify that "x" passage comes from Act 5 scene 2 of "Othello" and that's when he kills Desdemona, well, there are bigger issues at hand.


Dione Smith 1 September 2017 - 13:54

Hi Tim, Just triple checking that 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Heart of Darkness' are appropriate choices for a SL Langlit IOC. Your advice is very much appreciated.

My Part 3 works are 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'Antigone'.

Thank you ever so much,

Tim Pruzinsky 2 September 2017 - 02:46

Hi Dione,

I love the pairing of "Antigone" and "The Handmaid's Tale." It sounds like such an interesting exploration for the students. As for "Heart of Darkness," it's considered a novella. The PLA states you must study 2 novellas for it to be considered one "work." But this Conrad text is so dense and so complex that I just don't know what they will say. Please contact IB Answers (and let me know the answer too) about it as it's a tricky area in the PLA and one I am not confident giving a definitive answer about as it's too murky for my liking.

Otherwise, the syllabus looks good. You have two places, two time periods, and a two genres.


Dione Smith 2 September 2017 - 07:34

Hi Tim,
Thank you for your fast reply. I agree that HOD is very dense the the novella problem is a tricky one. I will check with IB answers and get back to you asap but am inclined to play it safe and read a second novella as there is still time.

Have a great weekend!

Dione Smith 4 September 2017 - 17:20

I am still waiting for the IB answer but wanted to ask one more thing pretty please. Is 'The Secret Agent' by Conrad considered a novella and is it a good choice to pair with 'Heart of Darkness' for the IOC SL with 'Gatsby' as well? I'll get back to you as soon as I have an answer on HOD standing alone as a works. I am so grateful to have Inthinking and your excellent advice. Have a wonderful day,

Tim Pruzinsky 5 September 2017 - 14:20

Hi Dione,

I think most people consider it a novel. In that case, you could teach it instead of HOD if you want. You also don't want to burden students with having to study more texts than necessary (and having to know more for their IOC).

I'd say go for "The Secret Agent" on its own and drop HOD, but if you really want HOD, wait to see what IB Answers says (and let us know of course).


Dione Smith 15 September 2017 - 11:32

Hello again,
I have had confirmation from the IB that 'Heart of Darkness' paired with 'The Great Gatsby' is acceptable for the IOC at SL. Excellent news and thank you ever so much for your advice. I am eager to read 'The Secret Agent' anyway just for fun and am happy that the students aren't required to cover another text.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Tim Pruzinsky 16 September 2017 - 01:44

Hi Dione,

Excellent news! And many thanks for letting me know this information. It really helps me when advising others.


Will Fordham 19 October 2017 - 11:43

Hi Tim,
Just a quick question, if I may: in selecting a poem for an extract for the IOC, does it matter if the poem is 42 lines long? Or just under 40?

Is there any guidance for whether the text has to be specifically 40 lines?

Sorry to seem like a pedant!


David McIntyre 19 October 2017 - 14:16

Hi Will,

The poem should not exceed 40 lines. Often less than 40 works well.

You may decide - using professional judgment, but breaking prescription - that you do want to include a poem that, with short line length, has, say, 42 lines. I would suggest, however, that if you go this way this is an exception and not your general practice.

Best regards,


Jannine Gammond 24 October 2017 - 10:53

Hi do all of the extracts have to come from all the works studied for Part 4 or can they just come from one text?

David McIntyre 24 October 2017 - 12:18

All the works studied, Jannine.

Best regards,


Will Fordham 25 October 2017 - 11:35

Thanks for your help, David.

Morgan Baxter 25 October 2017 - 14:29

Good morning,
If a student only speaks independently for 7.5 minutes, but makes many insightful points in that time, is it possible for them to score a 6? Can their organization be considered adequate if in those 7.5 minutes they used transition words and structured their response?

David McIntyre 26 October 2017 - 08:11

Hi Morgan,

This is a difficult, and probably impossible, question to answer.

It is, I think, better to think in terms of raw marks, rather than grades.

Potentially, the student can score 5 marks in crit. D. They would be unlikely to score 5 marks in crit. C. In crit. A and B, assuming you have chosen extracts designed to elicit a 10-12 minute oral, the student is highly unlikely to score top marks. However, if they are particularly insightful in the subsequent discussion with you, they must be given 'credit' for this.

Thus, your question, again, is rather difficult to answer. From experience, a student who (only) manages 7.5 minutes in their initial presentation of ideas is unlikely to do particularly well - but you never know.

Kind regards,


Pratik Thapa 2 November 2017 - 05:17

Dear David,

For IOC,

HL students have 3 texts - Macbeth, Sylvia Plath's collection of poem and The Great Gatsby.

Will the students get to choose their extract out of these three texts during their IOC? Or they might just get any extract out of these three?


Tim Pruzinsky 2 November 2017 - 07:17

Hi Pratik,

Students do not get to choose what text their extract comes from. This must be random. So, a student should have an equal chance at all three texts and they should not know until the moment the examination begins.

I hope that clarifies the procedure.


Pratik Thapa 18 January 2018 - 06:03

Thank you Tim, this clears that doubt. I do few more questions.

1) I have 18 HL students. I have made 18 extracts (5 from Macbeth, 7 from Gatsby and 6 from Sylvia Plath's poem), I hope this combination is fine?

2) I understand that a poem need not be of 40 lines as long as student can speak about it for 9-10 mins. My query is regarding the poem 'Tulips' which is longer than 40 lines. Should I change that?

3) With each extract I have only attached ONE guiding question. Can the students talk about other points which may not directly be related to the guiding question but somehow also is relevant to the extract? I fear that a more specific/precise/narrowed down guiding question may only allow them to speak for few mins (not meeting the 10 min rule)? What do you suggest here?

Tim Pruzinsky 18 January 2018 - 07:54

Hi Pratik,

1. The combination is fine. Just make sure students have an even shot at all three text going into the IOC.

2. Yes, keep it at 40 or under. Cut as needed or replace it with another poem.

3. You must have two guiding questions - one on content and one on style. They should be very general in nature ("how does the writer use of imagery in this poem" could be said about any poem and is in the ballpark of what you would write). And students do not have to answer the guiding questions. They are to closely analyze the passage/poem in a way they think works best.


Pratik Thapa 18 January 2018 - 09:14

Thank you Tim.

This helps a lot.

Katherine Adisa 7 November 2017 - 08:06

We are doing the poems of Eavan Boland and I particularly like 'Quarantine' However it is only 20 lines so I am guessing I cannot use it. Is that correct?

Tim Pruzinsky 7 November 2017 - 12:31

Hi Katherine,

There is actually no minimum required for length. Your only guide is this: can a student speak for at least 10 minutes on his or her own without interruption for the IOC? In your professional opinion, if you think this is possible, then you can use the poem. If you think a student will finish at 7 minutes because they have talked about everything, then pick different poems for inclusion in the IOC.


Katherine Adisa 7 November 2017 - 21:59

Perfect, Thank you.

Gordana Medakovic 19 November 2017 - 21:34

Hi Tim and David,
I`ve chosen 12 different extracts from the Part 4 works for my pretty small group of 4 students only (1 passage per student per work, am I right?) I wonder what if, theoretically, the two or three or all of them draw different passages from the same book? Will that be o.k, or they should try another draw> Please, clarify.
Thanks a lot,

Tim Pruzinsky 19 November 2017 - 23:44

Hi Gordana,

I am of the theory that as long as you keep it random, if students select the same passage, then so be it. You have twelve passages for four should be okay and you have completely adhered to the spirit of things (and then some).

However, if you are worried, I would start with all twelve, and then take out passages once they've been selected so it can't be used again. To keep it equal, you would have to take out two other extracts from the other works.

Or, you could just not worry about it and have all twelve as possible. Both are acceptable.


Christina Tonoyan 20 November 2017 - 09:00

Dear David, Tim.
For our IOC we have Maya Angelou's poems and I have 4 students. Do I have to take 4 of her poems or to take extracts from say 1984 too?
If I take only poetry can it be somehow considered not correct? Thank you in advance.

Tim Pruzinsky 20 November 2017 - 11:05

Hi Christina,

It sounds like you have a SL class. That means you've studied 2 texts. Both texts should be possible for the IOC and students should have an equal shot at either (randomly and not knowing which one beforehand).

I hope that clarifies things, but please do let me know if you need more information.


Christina Tonoyan 9 January 2018 - 17:06

Thank you dear Tim, actually my class is an HL one and I have included all three works we studied: Maya Angelou poems, 1984 and Macbeth. I have decided to take two poems an extract from 1984 and one extract from Macbeth. Do you think it's a good idea? Thanks a lot.

Tim Pruzinsky 10 January 2018 - 02:29

Hi Christina,

That's fine. I like to give students an equal shot at all three texts and it is okay if they end up repeating.

So, if two students end up doing an IOC on "Macbeth" from the same extract, and the other two students have a poem and a passage from "1984," that's okay.

Just as long as all three texts are possible and available to all 4 students, you're in the clear here!


Gordana Medakovic 22 November 2017 - 16:16

Thank you, Tim, I feel reassured now. Did I understand correctly that if they all, quite at random, draw different passages from one book only (Othello, or Gatsby or Blake`s poems), will that be o.k, or they will have to choose again so that their passage is from one of the remaining two books? Sorry for bothering and thanks again.

Tim Pruzinsky 22 November 2017 - 23:22

Hi Gordana,

As long as you gave them an equal shot at all three, and they all randomly ended up choosing the same text, this is okay. I've never seen it happen with a cohort of 10 or more, but I guess anything is possible. Will it look off? Yes. But, as long as you went through the process correctly, can show that you did, and have evidence of other passages that weren't selected, you are okay.


Jannine Gammond 7 December 2017 - 06:27

How long should we spend on Part 4? I was thinking around 14 hours not included the reading of the texts?

Part 4 materials are only used for the IOC correct? So I am assuming they do not need to study them as thoroughly as the Part 3 texts?

David McIntyre 7 December 2017 - 09:16

Hi Jannine,

The course study guide (p13) recommends 30 hours (SL) and 50 hours (HL) for Part 4. It does not specify how you use the time, and you can suppose that much of that time could be eaten up reading if students are studying long 19th century novels.

Part 4 maps onto the IOC; that is correct. However, written tasks may also emerge from part 4 study. Moreover, the skills are transferable; much or most of the course has aspects of close reading. Finally, students can become very agitated by the IOC, even the stoics in your class. Thus, you need to find a balance that teaches the students the skills of the IOC, puts them at ease, and provides understanding of the texts studied. It remains the case, however, that the IOC is only one component of a much larger course.

Best regards,


Jannine Gammond 7 December 2017 - 10:00

Hi David,

Sorry I phrased that incorrectly; I meant 14 hours per 'text', so that works out about right.

Our lessons are 55 minutes so for planning reasons I was going to dedicate around 18 lessons per text.

Thank you!

Santiago Ordoñez 15 December 2017 - 14:10

Hello guys.
What happens if an IOC ends up being only 13 minutes long?
Would examiners penalise this?
In this particular case, the student spoke at a rather fast pace.
Please let me know.
Many thanks
S. Ordóñez

Tim Pruzinsky 17 December 2017 - 01:52

Hi Santiago,

13 minutes is fine. Often, students will finish between 12-15. We of course want our questions to get the students to the 15 minute mark, but all of us who have done this before know that sometimes there's just nothing more a student can/will say.

They aren't penalized. Instead, the moderator looks at your marks and decides if you were too easy, hard or just right in awarding them. An adjustment is made from there.

It's also a holistic approach. If the student did enough to earn top marks and showed excellent knowledge and understanding of the text, then award top marks, even if it is 13 minutes.


Jannine Gammond 17 December 2017 - 11:09

Hi Tim,

What kind of questions do you ask after 12 minutes?

Tim Pruzinsky 18 December 2017 - 05:07

Hi Jannine,

It depends on the student and on the IOC itself. While I have some stock questions ready for each passage - just for my own ease of mind - I almost never use these. Instead, I play it by ear and wait to see what the student actually says in the IOC.

Once I get a feel for it and for what they produced/said, then I ask questions usually in two areas.

1. Extension. They may have mentioned an image or imagery, but not expanded.
I'll quickly say "You stated that the author uses imagery in line 15. Can you provide more detail about the effect on the reader?"

2. I'll ask a question about craft or technique without giving something away, but taking the student to a place they didn't deal with. "Can you discuss stanza two and the author's choices and effect?"

These are generalities though. If a student didn't talk about the end of the poem/passage, I'll ask them questions about that area. So, it all depends on what the student produces. I keep in mind that I want to help them, not hurt them with my questions, but I also don't want to give them too much information that the examiner can't award their thinking.


Amy Nicholson 10 January 2018 - 01:08

Hi Tim and David!

I need just a little bit of help!

In an Oxford IB L&L textbook I have been using with my class it suggests to the student 'although you are not allowed to know which passage you will be given to talk about in your IOC, you are allowed to know which extracts have been chosen by the teacher for the compilation.' That seems to go against a lot of what I've been told in the past: Can you weigh in on that for me?

Also, do you ensure that it is possible for all students to have all extracts or do select the required amount of extracts and prepare enough copies for your number of students? For example, last year I had 16 students so I prepared 8 extracts and made 2 copies of each. I realized after the fact that that was maybe not quite fair. Any thoughts?


Tim Pruzinsky 10 January 2018 - 02:43

Hi Amy,

Let me first start by saying the IOC is a minefield. Almost every school does it a bit differently and so you want to think about the "spirit of the assessment."

What is clear is that the student not know the specific extract beforehand. In the case you cite, I'm personally not comfortable with it. I fear that at the start of teaching Part 4, this will allow teachers to give students a "packet" of extracts to know and nothing else. I'd rather not teach in that way and I worry that if I do this - or advise others to do this - we will see teachers limiting the discussion of say "1984" to 3 key passages and knowing them only for the sake of the assessment. Do know that some schools and teachers do this. Other schools don't. And both complain about each other. For me, I'm 100% comfortable with my process and not sharing the exact extracts with students. I don't worry about fairness and I just get on with it all.

As for your second question, again, almost all teachers do something a bit differently. Some will - like you did last year - only allow an extract to be used twice. Others don't care. It's up to you really. As long as students have an equal shot at any of the 3 texts (or 2 as SL) and there is enough variety as required by the IB in terms of number of extracts, you can run it as you see fit.


Eileen Olmedo 11 January 2018 - 13:36

Hello all,

This is my first year teaching DP Lang/Lit HL and I would like advice regarding logistics for the IOC. I understand that students have 20 minutes to prep and then they move on to the oral component lasting 10-15 minutes. I have 28 students and their IOCs are scheduled for April 16-30. How does this work? After school? Saturdays? During regular school hours and while I am focusing on the IOC a substitute teaches my other classes? If so, do students not miss their other classes?

I would really appreciate this community's input and advice.

Also, our school has two Language A courses because of the peculiar requirements of our school system. Therefore, students in the full diploma programme will have two IOCs this semester, one for Spanish Language A and mine for English Language A.

Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 11 January 2018 - 23:50

Hi Eileen,

Welcome to the IB! My first piece of advise would be to talk to the Spanish department. In the schools I have worked in, I find it is very helpful to coordinate with the other Language A subjects when doing the IOC.

That doesn't mean you need to do what they do; instead, it will give you an idea of how another department approaches the same task.

With that said, every school I have worked in does something different. I personally like the conduct the IOC during school hours and to have a substitute take my classes. I realize not everyone has that luxury and it is a luxury for many teachers. In doing it that way, I am usually able to get students out of English class or their free period.

I know other teachers that really like the Saturday approach. Students can concentrate on the IOC and the teacher can focus on just that too. They usually try to do half on one Saturday and half the other Saturday.

I think after school is the worst option as you will find they are never ending. But that's a personal feel, and not everyone will think the same way.

Good luck with the IOCs and do ask if you have any more questions.


Eileen Olmedo 12 January 2018 - 17:57

Thank you!

Tayyaba Shahid 12 January 2018 - 03:25

How to go about with an IOC with short poems that students do in P4? I am still figuring out; as the IOC demands a 40 line passage. Please Guide!

David McIntyre 12 January 2018 - 08:46

Hi Tayyaba,

The maximum number of lines is 40. Using a poem with fewer lines is just fine.

Kind regards,


Ashley Gregoris 12 January 2018 - 18:15

Hello, I know there are a lot of questions already here about excerpt selection, but I haven't quite found the answer to my question. So, I have 13 IB students which means that I have to provide 7 excerpts from the three texts studied.
1. This means that I will have an uneven amount of extracts from each of the three texts, is this a problem?
2. I usually just put numbers in a hat, the student selects a number and works with that excerpt. This means there is potential for repetition of the same extract and therefore, not all 7 are used. As I see in other posts it seems that others do this as well, would you say this is an appropriate way to go about selection?

Thank you,

Tim Pruzinsky 13 January 2018 - 03:08

Hi Ashley,

Your "numbers in a hat" method works. It's random and students can get any of the three texts. Sounds good to me!

As for your 7 excerpts, it's really best for students to have an equal shot at the three texts. In your case, putting only 6 numbers in a hat would do that. You could then occasionally take out the #6 and put in the #7 which would allow for all 7 extracts to be used while also providing an equal chance at getting any of the three texts.

Please do let us know if you have any other questions as the IOC causes teachers so many headaches. We're here to help!


Ashley Gregoris 15 January 2018 - 02:29

Great solution! Thank you :)

Tayyaba Shahid 15 January 2018 - 04:05

Hi David,
Thank you for the guidance, however through your answer I understand that one little poem of lets say 8 verses or 10 verses may be given for the IOC.

Tim Pruzinsky 16 January 2018 - 00:29

Hi Tayyaba,

Technically, yes, you could give an 8 line poem to a student. The IB doesn't want you to give a poem that is longer than 40 lines. No teacher I know would ever do that though because our students would not be able to talk for 10 minutes without interruption about an 8 line poem.

In figuring out the length of poems for the IOC, many teachers go for 30-40 lines. That tends to be what many out there do. David's point is that you can have a beautiful 28 line poem that is so dense that students will be very successful working with it on their IOC.


Russell Baker 18 January 2018 - 19:55

I apologized if this was already answered or if I overlooked it.....but can the students use their preparation notes for the IOC ?

Tim Pruzinsky 19 January 2018 - 00:09

Hi Russell,

The student can bring in any notes, plan(s), and annotations they made during the 20 minute preparation time, but only what they produce in that prep time. And no need to apologize; we're here to help!


Ma Luisa Castro 30 January 2018 - 14:28

Hi Tim. Am I correct in understanding that because I only have 4 students in the DP program, I can assign one extract for each student? Or is it 4 extracts from the three texts and each of the student can actually choose randomly?

Ma Luisa Castro 30 January 2018 - 14:30

Is there any resource in this website on Sylvia Plath's and Seamus Heaney's poems? Is it ok to just get them from the net?

Tim Pruzinsky 31 January 2018 - 02:37

Hi Ma Luisa,

I'll answer both of your questions here.

1. Type in "Heaney" and "Plath" into the search engine. You will find resources that will help you out. They may not be what you are looking for, and if not, I'm sure you can find something else online.

2. "Assign" is too strong of a word. It still needs to be random. So, pick 4 extracts from the three texts and let the students choose - unknown to them. You should not be assigning a specific text to a specific student.


Max Crowther 30 January 2018 - 15:43

Hello. My apologies if this is a foolish question, but there's some debate within my department concerning this. If using prose passages from a novel, of approximately 40 lines, you as teacher have picked out the appropriate number of passages the students may choose from on the day of the IOC. The question is: do the students know which of the potential passages you may pick in advance? For example, the student knows we may look at page 40, 55, 86, or 99-100 but does not know which one they will draw from. Or are they expecting any 40 line chunk from anywhere in the novel they studied?

Tim Pruzinsky 31 January 2018 - 02:34

Hi Max,

This is not a foolish question at all! And know that most departments have this debate at some point.

I am of the opinion that providing students a packet of passages or poems (let's say 10 for the sake of this example) before the IOC goes against the spirit of the program. I also think that saying "anywhere" in the novel is a bit much as well. I like to think of key events/moments or a juicy passage that students will easily be able to identify if they have read and studied the text.

In other words, there is a sweet spot to be had - I don't want students studying page 86 because it will be one of the 10 IOC passages, but I also don't want them floundering around completely lost because they don't know what's coming. Letting them know that I will be choosing "significant" passages that has importance in the text for some reason (character, development, conflict, theme, setting, and so on) is not prescriptive, but not wide open. I won't tell them what those significant passages are, but if they have read and studied the text, they should know them.


Ma Luisa Castro 31 January 2018 - 15:20

Thanks, Tim. What I meant was , I will get 4 extracts from the 3 texts , but each student will pick randomly from those 4. In the end, each one will have a different extract from the other? so, it is like a draw lot kind of thing ? Or should it be that, each student will be given all the 4 extracts in an envelope, and he gets to pick one. chances are however, there will be duplication; or all of them would get the same extract. How should be done? any suggestion/recommendation for my 4 students?

Tim Pruzinsky 31 January 2018 - 23:38

Hi Ma Luisa,

You can do it either way. My preference is 4 extracts and students select the envelope. Duplication may occur, but it's the process I like. However, you can "draw lots" if you like and I think that is just as fine too. Up to you.


Patrick Kariku 7 February 2018 - 16:44

Hi Tim,

Just finalising preparations for the IOC, and I wanted to clarify if there is a difference between the extracts provided for SL / HL students?

Our class has 14 HL students and 8 SL students. Do we provide a total number of extracts based on each group OR total them together?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,


Tim Pruzinsky 7 February 2018 - 23:42

Hi Sadie,

I think that it works out easiest if you do it as a whole cohort, so 22 students. In that scenario, you should have 9 extracts total or 3 for each text. That means HL has an option of 9 extracts from 3 texts studied and SL has an option of 6 extracts from 2 texts studied.

Technically, you could have only 7 extracts for HL as their are 14 students. But including two more extracts, you get even numbers - 3 for each text - and it keeps things simple in my eyes. Remember that students should have an even shot at all three texts at HL. And of course, they all get moderated together and they are graded on the same criteria.

Of course, either way is technically okay and if you think it's easier the other way, that works too.


Patrick Kariku 8 February 2018 - 03:33

Fantastic, thanks Tim! Much appreciated.

Stijn Simkens 12 February 2018 - 14:48

Hi Tim,

one of my chosen extracts will contain a poem of about 28 lines. Since the poem is part of a biography the work itself also contains prose and that's why I was wondering whether it would be fair and justified to add say 10 extra (prose) sentences that immediately follow the poem in the biography. Would I be providing an unfair advantage to the student?



Tim Pruzinsky 13 February 2018 - 21:35

Hi Stijn,

I wouldn't add it. Not knowing what poem you are asking about, it's tough to advise. However, the IB is clear in the subject reports. Title only for a poem and all other identifying information must be left out.

Good luck with the IOCs!


Lucia Fayad 20 February 2018 - 00:25

Hi. I know there are different successful ways to organize an IOC on poetry, but I would like to know what could be better, specifically, to develop the body.
Option A: Comment form/structure, literary devices, imagery, etc.
Option B: Comment all these aspects, but discussing stanza by stanza
Am I clear? Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 20 February 2018 - 01:26

Hi Lucia,

I would argue that it depends on the poem. Some poems work really well chronologically, and students discuss a whole load of devices stanza by stanza. Yet other poems work better with a structure that is by device.

In other words, I tell my students both ways work, both ways can be successful, and that they should wait and see what makes most sense with the poem they get. I realize that doesn't answer your question in the way you were hoping, but I tell my students that the arguments and claims they want to make dictate the structure of the IOC.


Lucia Fayad 20 February 2018 - 12:34

I understand. Thank you!

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