WT1 Tips

The written task 1 can be tricky. With so much freedom, there can be many pitfalls. The requirements ask you to imitate a writing style or construct a specific type of text. Here are some of the common pitfalls that students often fall into, followed by three tips on how to avoid them.

The common pitfalls

  • The written task is not an essay writing assignment. Unfortunately, many 'opinion columns' and 'blogs' end up sounding like essays.

  • The context of the text is not clear. If you write an opinion column, ask yourself how it is characteristic of an opinion column from a specific newspaper or magazine. Who does it target?

  • The content of the task has nothing to do with course content. For example, a brochure warning against the health dangers of bulimia, does not reflect course work that explored the role of advertising in shaping young women's sense of beauty.

The right ingredients

Although there is no one guaranteed recipe for a successful written task 1, you can avoid these 'pitfalls' by including all of the following ingredients:

  1. Text type - If you write a speech, your speech should look and sound like a speech. If you write a letter to the editor, it should look and sound like a letter to the editor. In other words, each type of text has its own set of stylistic and structural conventions. Ask yourself what characteristics define the type of text you plan to write. If you're not sure about these conventions, see the pages that define text types in the resource section of this Subject Site.

  2. Primary source - Your written task should be rooted in a primary source. If you are writing about a literary work for Part 3 or 4, the poem, novel or play is the primary source. Your task should reflect your understanding of it. For the non-literary parts of the syllabus, be sure you comment on a primary text. If you looked at the representation of women in advertising, comment on an actual ad. If you looked at a political campaign, focus on one ad, website or poster. 

  3. Secondary source - Since the written task is not an essay, you are not asked to give your personal opinion on a subject matter or literary text. Instead, you are expected to be knowledgeable on the subject matter or the literary text. Even the best opinion columns inform readers to a great extent. You want to prove to the examiner that you have understood the course work and you have done your homework! This can also be achieved through the rationale, where applicable terms and concepts can be explained. Find secondary sources that comment on the texts you have worked on. For example, if you read an article about John Fowles and existentialism, this may inspire you to write a missing chapter to his novel, The Collector. If you explored women in advertising, you will want to find some statistics or articles on the effects of these ads on women. 


Here is a draft of a written task 1 that a student wrote. It has multiple problems and requires help. Answer the following questions before reading the feedback.

  1. Which pitfalls has the student fallen into?
  2. How could the 'three right ingredients' be used to steer this student in the right direction?
  3. Look at the page on opinion columns in the reference section of this Subject Site. According to this definition, there are six defining characteristics of a opinion columns: voice, newsworthiness, call to action, humor, hard facts and logos. Where do you see evidence of these in the column below? How could these characteristics be added to the task to make it more successful?

Column on the advantages of being fat

‘Don’t you want to lose weight some day’?  Is the question I was asked about weekly. And then I replied with my happiest voice; No! The they gave me this kind of look like, okay, you must be crazy. And yes I am. There are so many advantages of being fat. Lets start by shopping. Sale. The thing I like best, and so handy when you’re fat, because almost 70% of all the woman are skinny, at least skinny to fit in the most common sizes. So all the big sizes are left over. How nice. So there I was, standing at the H&M, at the sale-corner. Nothing but big sizes. So as a child in a toy shop I started grabbing the things I liked and made my way to the fitting room. It was rather crowdie over there so I accepted the fact that I had to wait for some minutes. I heard the sound of an opening door and saw a skinny girl coming outside, at a glance she saw me and then continued looking in the mirror. Her friend, waiting for her, said she looked pretty and the girl asked her friend ‘don’t I look fat in this dress?’ No it’s lovely’ she replied. I laughed. I never had those kind of problems. For I already accepted the fact that I was fat, and it would never disappoint me when shopping. When the girls left I went in to the fitting room and started to change. This dress was lovely, I took another look in the mirror, turned around and smiled. Shopping is great, after like half an hour I was ready, with about 9 dresses hanging over my arm I made my way to the pay desk. Only 50 pounds for 9 dresses. Good job, I thought. As happy as I was I walked  to the bus stop I realized I was just in time because the bus was about to leave. I hastened myself to get inside the bus, and lucky as I was, there was one seat left over, a seat for 2, just for me. The whole trip no one came to sit next to me, for they probably thought they wouldn’t have enough space, sitting next to 1.5 person. Life is great, and so you see, being fat is too! (:


First of all, this written task falls into is the pitfall of not reflecting course content. It is not clear what was studied in class from this piece. If the student studied obesity, its causes and effects, then this needs to be made clear. Where does the statistic on the percentage of skinny women (70%) come from? Are overweight people really happy for the reasons suggested in this column? If so, explain where this is supported.

Secondly, this opinion column sounds very informal, using words such as 'like' and the emoticon '(:'. Columns often contain something that is newsworthy and relevant to the target audience. The context of this text is not self evident.

Finally, this text must refer to another text or texts. If the student read an article about obesity, then she could explain its significance. It is suggested that this student start all over again with a completely new idea and set of texts. She may want to see the lesson on anorexia and the sample written task on the portrayal of women in the media.

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Comments 68

Gabriela Del Pozo 20 March 2017 - 18:51

Hi Tim! A student of mine wants to use the TV series Grey's Anatomy as a primary source to create a memoir. My question is: Can a tv show be used as primary source?

Tim Pruzinsky 21 March 2017 - 13:09

Hi Gabriela,

Yes, a TV show can be used as a primary source. I'm just not sure the connection to course content here, and so make sure s/he clearly connects to Part 1 or 2.


Annabel Greve Kristensen 26 April 2017 - 09:14


I have a student who wants to write a WT1 which is a blog written by Tom Robinson from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Might she be penalised because blogs were obviously not around at the time the novel is set?


Tim Pruzinsky 26 April 2017 - 13:50

Hi Annabel,

Students who create blogs - from the perspective of a character - face this all the time. I don't see it as an issue. However, I do think she needs to acknowledge that fact in the rationale (briefly) and justify why is was still a relevant text type to use and how it connected to her purpose/audience.

I'm also guessing that this is coming from Part 3 of the course and is your Free Choice text as Harper Lee isn't on the PLA. I say that only because those course details will help the student set up the context of the WT1 as well as the learning objectives from that part of the course. All of this is good information to include in the rationale.


John Richardson 2 May 2017 - 20:34

For WT1, can a student write a short story in response to a text? Would "short story" be an acceptable text type?

Tim Pruzinsky 3 May 2017 - 04:04

Hi John,

Yes, a short story is an "acceptable" text type. I'm unable to say if it's appropriate for the purpose the student wants to achieve or if the text type is the right one in terms of showing their knowledge + understanding. However, students may write a short story for a WT1.


Nicola Prestano 30 May 2017 - 09:01

Hi John & Tim,

My students are working on developing a WT1 based on Chronicle of a Death Foretold from Part 3: Literature /Texts & Contexts. I had a student ask me if a comic strip could work for a WT1 if he created it from the perspective of a minor character in the story. I am inclined to say this would work, but I want to be certain before I give him the ok. It is my first year teaching DP L&L, so your feedback would be really helpful!

Tim Pruzinsky 30 May 2017 - 10:14

Hi Nicola,

Technically, it is okay. But the student must create a comic strip that includes 800-1000 words! That's a huge comic strip and a ton of time will be spent drawing rather than writing. I don't think it is time well spent, but I don't know the student, the context, or the exact situation. It's your call. Let the student know the parameters and see what he decides. Of course, he will have to create/write more WTs in the future, and so it's okay to fail sometimes as this might not get sent to the IB.


Andrea Marchosky 30 May 2017 - 16:41

Hello! I have been trying to open the links for the "text types" however the link seems to be down. Can someone please send it to me?
Thank you!

David McIntyre 31 May 2017 - 06:49

Hi Andrea,

You are right. This links seems broken. Sorry.

I actually don't know what this page looks like, or would look like. You can certainly find a non-exhaustive list of texts types in the study guide.

I worry a little about listing the 'features' of a text type. In part this is because I don't think all texts are equally conventionalised, and to assume so risks considerable simplification (which is not to suggest that model texts are useless; they need not be, and are frequently useful in teaching).

I wonder if a better project for InThinking - one that is longer term, takes time to develop, but may not assist you now (sorry!) - is to develop, where it is possible and useful, pages that, in a detailed fashion, deconstruct the key features of more conventionalised text types.

In the meantime, I will work to fix the links if possible, and apologise for the inconvenience.


Franklin Delano 17 June 2017 - 21:30

Hi David and Tim,
I have a student who has proposed in her WT1 Rationale to write in response to Duffy's poems and Chopin's short stories. She hasn't been successful in explaining her intentions, but it did bring up the question whether or not it is permitted to use two different author's work (we have studied them both for Part 4) as primary texts for the WT1. I would discourage students from doing this, but just wanted to know the rules, so I could be accurate when discussion options with students.
Miranda Lutyens

Franklin Delano 17 June 2017 - 21:31

ooops. authors' works!

David McIntyre 19 June 2017 - 03:30

Hi Miranda,

This would be in theory fine, and in practice probably awful.

Like you, I would discourage this practice. My opening gambit would go something like this: "This isn't permitted. You can't do it. Please choose one or the other".

I hope this helps,


Santiago Ordoñez 25 August 2017 - 14:02

I understand that WT1 is not a persuasive essay, however, the threshold between analysis, originality/creativity is still something I struggle with... for example, If a student wishes to interview A. Camus in order to explore through the author´s answers how his life (internal, external context) influenced the novel "The Stranger" (Part 3), might this be considered as a "hidden essay / implicit essay" type of production?
Up to what extent can the text type include an implicit and even explicit literary analysis?
Many thanks!

Tim Pruzinsky 27 August 2017 - 03:02

Hi Santiago,

There can be both implicit and explicit literary analysis in WT1. But it cannot look or feel like an essay. When I read an interview in "The Paris Review," it is more often than not very intellectual and analytical. But it's an interview. It looks and feels like one. There aren't topic sentences or thesis statements. There isn't a formal conclusion. Yet, the questions and the answers are of a higher order; there is a personal warmth and expression to them; there is an openness to discussing ideas and moving from topic to topic. These aren't features, per se, of an essay.

As for your student, I would tell him or her to pursue the interview with Camus. I would also direct him to model his interview from "The Paris Review" or another magazine (Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone...).


Tracy Radbone 6 September 2017 - 04:44

Hello there Can you confirm whether the 2MB limit on the size of the electronic file submitted to IBO is still accurate? I have seen another file size sent by my DP Coordinator for Word and PDF files.

Tim Pruzinsky 6 September 2017 - 05:14

Hi Tracy,

You'll have to ask your IB Coordinator. We try to keep it under 2MB and always use pdf files. From my knowledge, we as a school keep to that limit for English. However, if s/he has been able to send larger sized documents, and the system still works, I don't see why you can't do it.


Tracy Radbone 7 September 2017 - 07:59

Thanks Tim
One more question - on WT1 - what if the primary text is a tweet - very small - could it be a collection of tweets on the same topic by the same person/world leader? I believe that I have read on here about memes being discouraged for the same reason. Am I correct? Or would an article which discusses the tweets of a certain person be a better primary text? Many thanks and thank you also for prompt, practical help on this website.

Tim Pruzinsky 7 September 2017 - 11:25

Hi Tracy,

If a student can write a substantial WT1 from a tweet, I don't see why not. Most likely though, the primary texts, and plural in this case, will be the initial tweet + subsequent discussion, analysis, and/or critique of it. Because the topic might be gender stereotyping, for example, a tweet that is misogynistic and then a Guardian opinion editorial about it seem to go hand in hand.


Anthony Sweeney 8 September 2017 - 04:46

Just a quick question, with the form that must be uploaded with the Tasks- It's okay if the information is handwritten? As the download is a PDF, i don't see any other alternative but I just want to make sure before I start uploading next week.

Tim Pruzinsky 8 September 2017 - 07:41

Hi Anthony,

I assume you can, but we have always typed our information into the PDF. The IB allows you to do so (sometimes, in Google Chrome, it can be a pain to download, save, then open and type). We find Firefox works easier and faster for this form.

For example, I share the form with students electronically. They then fill it out in class by typing in their answers into the pdf. I do it in class so they don't screw it up. They then save it according to my instructions for easy upload in a shared folder (Last Name, First Name, Coversheet). From there, I can upload the WT's and the Coversheet without an issue and no handwriting is needed.

I hope that helps explain the process we use at my current school.


Anthony Sweeney 11 September 2017 - 01:44

Thanks for the reply. Yes, after playing with the pdf I was able to type into it.

Tracy Radbone 16 September 2017 - 11:15

Good afternoon
Could you clarify something, regarding whether images added to make the text in WT1 look authentic (such as an online publication) count towards word count if they contain words?
Many thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 17 September 2017 - 04:14

Hi Tracy,

This is a tough one. I tell my students that if they create a blog, for example, all the auxiliary words count. It's part of being a blog and looking like the text. However, your example is an image they have not produced. They will cite it of course. That image they've used also contains words. I think in this case, because it is not their own work, and because the image is more central/important than the language, I wouldn't count it. On the other hand, if it central to the blog/online publication, and it is being used for analysis, I would count it like I would count a quotation from a novel.


Kristie Newton 22 September 2017 - 06:14


I have a student who is interested in submitting a rewriting of various nursery rhymes in different jargon, for example Little Bo Peep as a legal case. She has approached me with this idea and I'm not sure if it is appropriate since it is a rewrite of a preexisting text. She has explained her idea and discussed how jargon can exclude people from different things (nursery rhymes are understandable by most, but when rewritten in legal they could exclude) Would this be something she could do?



Tim Pruzinsky 22 September 2017 - 06:57

Hi Kristie,

Wow! What a creative and interesting idea. Because students write multiple written tasks (4 at HL and 3 at SL), I would encourage the student to explore this option.

However, when it comes time to send them, I don't think I would suggest putting this one forth. Your concern is my concern: I worry about it because she is re-writing an original text. How much of it would be her own work and words and how much of it would be the original? I don't know and you won't until you see it.

However, it sounds fascinating, connects to what you have been teaching, and fits for Part 1 of the course. All of that seems to suggest she could move forward with it. I would wait to make further decisions (about sending it to the IB) based on what she produces.


Fiona Rhodes 27 September 2017 - 13:44

Hi David/Tim
I hope all is well. We have a new member of staff who has been focusing on different text types for IB1. Some students have produced excellent pieces. Can we use a piece of travel writing for part two WT1?

Tim Pruzinsky 28 September 2017 - 01:18

Hi Fiona,

Any text type is theoretically okay to submit to the IB for WT1. The key is that is demonstrates an understanding of course objectives and content that you studied. This is central to criterion B.

As long as the rationale makes it clear what was studied and why this comes from Part 2 of the course, as well as what objectives were achieved, I think you can proceed with enthusiasm.


Sarah Norman 13 October 2017 - 09:54

Hi both,

I am designing a two year plan for my school and I have a couple of questions.

1. Are students allowed to choose a text in translation for their primary text upon which to base their Written Task One (part 1 or 2), for example a speech by the Pope, originally in Polish and then translated into English?
2. I know that the guide states that any text type is available, but, in your opinion does that extend to, for example, writing a drama piece about the language and gender material studied in part 1?
3. Does it matter if more than one of the Written Tasks completed is on language and gender as long as what is handed in meets the rubric i.e. from parts 1/2 and parts 3/4? In addition to this, do you know if, say for HL the student needs in their folder a written task from part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 (i.e. one for each separate part) as long as one submitted task is on part 1/2 and one submitted task is on part 3/4. I am a little confused because the guide says, for SL: 'The content of each task must relate to a different part of the course. Therefore, at least one task must relate to part 1 or part 2, and at least one task must be based on a literary text from part 3 or part 4.'

Thank you again, both, for your help.


Tim Pruzinsky 14 October 2017 - 05:55

Hi Sarah,

Let's see if I can help provide some clarity.

1. I wouldn't. I have been advising against this for a while as the assessment tasks should be based on texts originally written in the target language (English in this case). The IB is not crystal clear about this and that's been an issue.

2. I think that's okay. A script or a screenplay that deals with material studied in Part 1 is creative and could be quite insightful. I say proceed with that one.

3. HL is a bit different from SL in this regard. At HL, I think it's okay to write a WT1 and a WT2 about the same content or literature text studied in class.

What you need to do is provide variety across the whole program. I wouldn't do this again with Part 2 of the course and never give students an opportunity to write from Part 1 or 3. That seems against the spirit of things. Give them opportunities and variety from the content you've studied. At HL, do remember that you must submit one WT from the language portion of the course (Part 1 or 2) and one WT from the literature portion of the course (Part 3 or 4). This balance is non-negotiable.

Finally, at SL, I don't think it's appropriate to write two WT1s from the same part.


Sarah Norman 16 October 2017 - 07:45

Great, thanks so much Tim. That is really helpful.

When you say 'I wouldn't do this again with Part 2 of the course and never give students an opportunity to write from Part 1 or 3', here I assume you mean that I should give students the opportunity to write from Parts 1 and 3 as well?

Thanks again, this forum really is very helpful!


David McIntyre 18 October 2017 - 08:51

Hi Sarah,

Tim is on holiday. I won't presume to speak for him, and will allow him to respond when he returns home.



Rebecca Miles 23 October 2017 - 09:09

Hi David and Tim.

A Russian student of mine would like to write about three Russian propaganda posters from WW2. Is it ok if he looks at the language in translation or is it better if he focuses on English language propaganda?

Thanks in advance for the help!

David McIntyre 23 October 2017 - 13:03

Hi Rebecca,

For simplicity, and I think a better WT, propaganda is less problematic than working with translation. That's my view.



elizabeth smith 25 October 2017 - 20:20

Dear Tim

This is more of a practical question: but could you tell me where I can get hold of the cover sheets for the WT1 and any guidance for their completion and students' submission of their completed work.



David McIntyre 26 October 2017 - 08:29

Hi Elizabeth,

Forms are (now) completed electronically. Your IB Coordinator has the responsibility of providing guidance to you. Since the procedure for submission may change slightly from exam session to exam session, it is better to wait for her or his advice.

In terms of submission of the task itself (again, electronic), many of the sample on the website give, I think, a good indication of what to submit, and how to present it. As a general rule, the WT1 should include the rationale, the WT, any references (mandatory if apposite to the task), and any appendix or appendices.

Kind regards,


elizabeth smith 25 October 2017 - 20:27

Dear Tim

Would writing a speech in the style of C. Ngozi Achicie (based on one of her Tedtalks) be a limiting factor for achieving the top grades? My student is emulating her style and writing as her even though the content of the speech will of course differ. Is is suitable for the students to write as the persona of their source text I hope?



David McIntyre 26 October 2017 - 08:38

Hi Elizabeth,

Writing from a persona is often a good idea. If, in the case of this writer, the student is speaking in the voice of the writer as public speaker, I don't think the voice matters to any great extent. The ideas of the writer should, however, be apparently authentic.

To comment further, you will have to tell me more. In particular, I would need to know what understandings the student aims to show. Is this a literary option or is this a topic option?



Christina Tonoyan 26 October 2017 - 12:03

Hello team

One of my students has decided to write his written task one on 1984. His task will be a diary of a citizen of Eurasia. The character is then captured by the Oceania army and in the book displayed as one of the prisoners of war. I would like to know if the student is allowed to write such a task.

David McIntyre 26 October 2017 - 12:15

Hi Christina,

There is no problem, as such, with this idea. What you may like to ask the student, initially, is why he wants to take this approach and what understandings of the novel it will reveal.

Kind regards,


Christina Tonoyan 13 November 2017 - 09:42

Dear David,
Thank you for your support and sorry for this late reply. My student's aim to write this task is to expand and extend the reader's view on the different settings of the book while introducing new ideas, characters and actions which are mentioned in the story. Do you think it will work?

David McIntyre 13 November 2017 - 10:41

Hi Christina,

Whilst this a creative task, the student is assessed on his understanding of the text. Thus, any fabrication that does not have the effect of showing this will probably not do particularly well in criterion B. This doesn't mean that the student cannot introduce something that is new, but this must be revealing of the novel that is.

I hope this helps.


Christina Tonoyan 13 November 2017 - 14:03

Thank you dear David, yes it helped a lot.

Swapna Sharma 8 November 2017 - 06:53

One of my SL students has submitted a proposal to write WT on Persepolis (Part 4). The student wants to discuss the role of religion in the book. Will that qualify for WT1 or such analysis is only meant for WT2?
Thank you in advance.

Tim Pruzinsky 9 November 2017 - 00:03

Hi Swapna,

The topic is okay. For a WT1 though, the text type may NOT be an essay. So, if the student wants to explore religion in the text, how will he or she do it? Through an interview? A blog post? An opinion editorial? A letter or set of letters? The writing should allow to student to fully explore religion in manner that fits with the purpose and audience of the task.


Swapna Sharma 9 November 2017 - 08:22

Dear Tim,

Thank you very much for the prompt response. The text type is an email communication between two English literature teachers, trying to share their understanding of the book. I think this text type meets the criteria; your views most welcome.
Best regards,

Tim Pruzinsky 9 November 2017 - 09:18

Hi Swapna,

Sounds like the student is on the right track!


Peter Thompson 9 November 2017 - 10:54

Hi Tim and David,

If a student is writing an Opinion column for their Written Task and use many secondary sources should they just hand in a Bibliography with their WT rather than including any in text citations? This seems the best way to maintain authenticity.

In addition, if a student was writing a WT response to a Guardian opinion column would the article count as a Primary source? In some cases The Guardian article might be discussing a primary source e.g. a rap song's lyrics in which case the student could examine the Primary source but is this essential?

Thank you very much for this and best wishes,


Tim Pruzinsky 10 November 2017 - 00:26

Hi Peter,

For your first example, maintain authenticity, but also make sure the student is clear when the work is not his own. Op-Ed writers quote others all the time and usually provide (if online) a hyperlink to the cited source. Then, have the Bibliography or Works Cited after. I would not have an in-text MLA citation for this, but again, caution the student: the student must make clear to the reader when the work isn't his own.

As for your other question, let me see if I understand it correctly. An opinion column in The Guardian is lambasting some rap lyrics (or something like that). The student is responding to the opinion column and not the lyrics.

This is a tough one without seeing the final writing. It's hard to make an argument that the columnist is right (or wrong) without also quoting and using evidence from those same lyrics. I guess it might be possible, but it would seem that both need to be discussed. I could be wrong here though as I am struggling to imagine what exactly the student is writing and arguing.


Peter Thompson 12 November 2017 - 14:56

Thanks Tim. That's really helpful. Best wishes, Peter

Peter Thompson 15 November 2017 - 19:28

Hi Tim,
I hope you're well.

When I looked at Language Death with my Grade 11 class recently, quite a few of the class weren't so bothered about the prospect of Languages dying and felt this was natural evolution, that Language change was a dynamic thing and that the influence of technology on Language shows that interesting changes will compensate for this. As a result, one of my students would like to create a speech for his WT1 with the aim of promoting language death and his audience would be his peers - Grade 11 English Lit and Lang students. Is using his peer group as his audience ok?

I thought his scenario could be to speak to the whole year group at a Languages Fair for example.

In addition, please could you suggest what might be a good Primary source for Language death - I've suggested looking at a Poem in the original threatened language but could he also just look at certain phrases which will be lost from a range of dying languages? Thank you very much for your advice on this.

Finally (I'm sorry!) in terms of the word count for the Rationale/Task please could you let me know where I can find a definitive list of what is included/not included etc.?

Thank you very much for your advice and best wishes,


Tim Pruzinsky 16 November 2017 - 07:34

Hi Peter,

Let's see if I can sort through your questions here. I've put them in number order for ease of reference.

1. If he states in his rationale (and in the speech, since it would need that context) that his audience is his peers at a Languages Fair, then I think it could work. Otherwise, it would seem too inauthentic.

2. I don't know any good primary sources for the death of languages off the top of my head. If it's not on the site, and you can't find it here, we don't have it yet.

3. As for anything definitive for the IB, the language and literature guide is what to read. On page 41 (and beyond) there are specific details for the rationale and the task.


Peter Thompson 16 November 2017 - 10:01

Thanks Tim. This is a great help.

Best wishes,


Catherine Santarelli 27 November 2017 - 12:48

Hi Tim and David,
Thanks for maintaining this site and answering so many questions. It's been really helpful to our department!
My question in regards to WT1 is how much do the examiners consider the student's layout and formatting? I know the bulk of the marking looks at the text itself, but if a student spends a lot of time formatting their task to demonstrate the conventions of the text type chosen, for example, adding a masthead, images, ears or clickbait, social networking icons, etc to a tabloid news article, will that mean a great difference in marks compared to a student who submits the same task with minimal formatting?

Tim Pruzinsky 27 November 2017 - 23:31

Hi Katt,

So glad you've found everything helpful! We appreciate the feedback.

While I don't know the exact answer (mildly important or very important?), I do strongly encourage all my students to make the text look as authentic as possible in terms of layout and formatting. I think this can only be a good thing and shows the examiner the seriousness in which the task was taken.

How would marks differ between a student who does this and a student who doesn't? I still think it comes down to what they actually wrote. Student A who write an awful piece but has the bells and whistles still wouldn't score well. Student B who writes an amazing piece but without them will still be awarded marks. However, I think to overlook this is a mistake. We should be asking students to make the text look authentic. I do this at the end of the process so the focus is on the writing.


Samuel Edwards 4 December 2017 - 23:46

Hi Tim and David,

Couple of questions:
1) Several of my year 12 students wrote fake news articles, which I thought was a great idea. However, they did not write news articles about language in mass media (lesson learned!). Instead, they wrote on random stories unrelated to language. In their rationales, they pointed to all of the conventions they used, such as ethos, pathos, logos; mixture of facts and falsehoods to lend credibility; short-form paragraphs for a newsy feel; and the physical layout traits of a real publication (masthead, ears, etc).

I gave them all a 2 for their rationales (we worked hard on these), but now I am not sure how to assign results to the rest of the fake news story. I see ethos, pathos, logos. I also see factual news sprinkled here and there. Organisation of the news storis follow traditional layout and they I can spot transitions between the sections. Mechanics are very strong. So, any advice for evaluating task and content when the news story follows excellent form but does not address language?

2) One student did a pastiche, which is something we did in pairs as a formative earlier in the course. I will discourage this in the future, but am now stuck with it. Advice? Grading pitfalls?


David McIntyre 5 December 2017 - 16:47

Hi Samuel,

1. Better to identify this before submission. What you identify, in my view, is a weakness of the task (i.e. its nature) and of the grading criteria. Not much you can do about that. The standard IB response to any question of this kind is 'best fit', but that doesn't really tell you what the weighting or distribution of marks should be where a criterion simultaneously tests 2 things, does it? So, what to do? In this instance, I suggest two things: (i) Split criterion B in half, allocate 50% of the criterion for 'conventions of text', and 50% for understanding of topic. Try to make some determination from there; (ii) Don't let students submit these tasks, unless it is the best task the student has done, as the tasks cannot reasonably attain full marks in criterion B. What do you think?

2. No one knows how much collaboration or collusion took place on this task, beyond you and the students. If you are not satisfied that this is the independent work of the student, do not submit it for assessment. If you need to make some determination for an internal grade and/or report, I'll leave it to you to decide on appropriate action. Discussing a task with a student is, of course, a good way to learn what a student understands or doesn't understand.

It sounds like you are learning along the way too. That's how it works :)

Best regards,


Scott Edmonds 5 December 2017 - 17:01

Thanks, David! For the fake news stories, I think your idea of splitting Criterion B in half is the way to go. For the pastiche, the student provided the source text, but I concede that a pastiche is a poor choice because it is, in essence, a copy of someone else's work. I think the fake news story has potential, but I need to set better parameters for what the story should focus on, namely a linguistic development or regulation of some sort. Still not sure that is workable, but will consult with colleagues to see if we can come up with a good idea.

Chris Kuczynski 7 December 2017 - 11:37

In Part two, we looked at the phenomenon of native advertising. Students analyzed what looked like blogs, journalistic articles, OpEds, advice columns, et.al. that were hidden advertisements, advertorials. Students used these as inspirations for a written task 1 , writing their own native ads. My concern with a student submitting something like this is the sometimes monolithic attitude of IB towards assessments. Students clearly define a text-type, state the multiple purposes in their rationales ( i.e, information on the surface, selling a product underneath) and these are based on primary texts. I can see how these clearly address part 2 mass media objectives as well as the objectives of the written task 1, but I am afraid examiner might be a little hidebound as these are out of the ordinary. I do not want to put my students' diplomas at risk by suggesting they submit these pieces; however, they are pretty great and seem to accomplish assessment goals. What is your advice?

David McIntyre 7 December 2017 - 11:59

Hi Chris,

It is hard to advise. You may, for example, see in a subject report something to the effect that students should avoid using explicit language in WTs as this may offend the examiner. The offence, of course, is unfortunate, but it is also (I would hope) unintended, and if it is apposite to the text type then that is what it is. My point is simply that examiners should not bring their their own predilections to the examination, but it is possible some may, and moderation cannot eradicate it.

I take your general point, but I think it may be the case that examiners appreciate fresh originality. Some creativity, that is.

One other thing: It is important that the texts should an understanding of topic and not just text type. In other words, the text - whatever it is - needs to show an understanding of the topic option studied.



Chris Kuczynski 12 December 2017 - 12:24

Hi David,
I think I was misunderstood. When I used the word "explicit" , I was using it as an antonym for subtle. My question was not about the use of course language in the written task( there is none) , but rather the nature and construction of a task that is really two text types in one: a superficial text with an underlying advertisement. My concern is that an examiner might not take the time to look at the layered aspect of the assignment. What do you think?

David McIntyre 12 December 2017 - 13:02

Hi Chris,

I think I got you. I am simply giving an example - explicit language - of where personal predilection may get in the way of professional judgment (the prescriptive mind of what ought to be competing with the descriptive mind of how language really works beyond our whims). It's not, I would like to think, something that is commonplace; I'm just trying address your sense of examiners who may be 'hidebound'.

I suppose I find it hard to address your concern since I cannot speak for all examiners. The issue you raise of time is certainly a real one. I think it is fair to say that examining is not lucrative and many or most examiners have other things to be getting on with. My only recommendation - and I am not confident is a brilliant one - is for students to be very clear and explicit in the rationale (to the extent this is possible in 300 words). An appendix as example may help.

If there is a choice to be made between subtle and creative on the one hand, and banal and formulaic on the other, i would choose the former, even where this risks the potential disappointment of the examiner who, in your view, fails to recognise the sensitive and astute work of a student.

That's my view, Chris, but you may be asking the question because you feel otherwise, perhaps on the evidence of earlier experience.



Smriti Jaiswal 12 December 2017 - 08:43

Dear David,

My students have not always rooted their WT1 in a primary source. I went through the IB lang and lit guide to see where it says that WT1 HAS to respond to a primary source. I quote from the guide : " Where appropriate - for example, when the task relies on the reader referring to stimulus material such as a key passage in a literary text, or an illustration, in order to understand what the student is attempting to do - the source material must be clearly referenced in a bibliography."

Students - both who have rooted their tasks in primary sources and those who have not - have done fairly well. I bring this up only because I am suddenly a little nervous and am wondering if we have just been plain lucky, or if rooting tasks in primary source is simply something you suggest, and not a strict requirement.


David McIntyre 12 December 2017 - 09:28

Hi Smriti,

That is a fair point. This page was actually written prior to the launch of the course (when I was somewhat younger, and my hair a little darker). I don't think you have been plain lucky; you are right. A generic understanding is of a topic option is adequate. Where I think a (specific) primary source is very useful is as a model for creative replication.

Thanks for pointing this out. Over the next few days I will look at modifying the page a little.

Kind regards,


Jolanda Lannagan 15 December 2017 - 10:45

Dear David,

First timer here and loving all the materials and information! First year as an IB teacher too and loving every minute of it. So I have one question at the moment with regards to creative written tasks. A student of mine wants to do a tabloid article and we were looking at examples, for example The Sun. Her question (to which I didn't know the answer) is 'can I fill in The Sun' in the banner, or do I have to make up my . own fictional tabloid'? Quite a good question as I keep telling the students to make their WT's realistic. For example a letter to the editor must be in response to something they saw in that specific (existing magazine). Not make up a magazine and something they saw there (thinking of Primary sources here).

Am I on the right track or am I giving them incorrect information? Can they make up fictional magazines/papers as a response to an existing primary source?

Best regards,

Tim Pruzinsky 17 December 2017 - 01:48

Hi Jolanda,

Glad to hear you are loving the course. We love it too!

As for "The Sun" question, she can use it. Have her cite the banner though and any images she uses in a Works Cited so that the examiner knows it wasn't her original work. But the more authentic she can make it, the better.

In other words, you are completely on the right track. And while they can make up fictional magazines/newspapers if they want to, and more importantly if it works for their task, I think your advice to this particular student is sound.


Clare Chatfield 15 December 2017 - 19:12

Dear David,

I'm an IB Lang and Lit teacher in her second year of teaching Year 1. My students are currently working on their Written Task 1s for Part 2 (Lang. and Mass Communications) of the course. One question I'm having trouble finding the answer to: Do the words in the Works Cited count toward the 1,000-word limit in WT 1? A number of my students are writing columns, articles, even listicles that are filled with facts and information. I've instructed them to keep track of their sources, but some have done such a good job that their Works Cited section is 200 words or more. This cuts in significantly to the word count limit. Also, when students are submitting images with words, how exactly are these counted in the WT 1 word count?

Thanks for any help!

Tim Pruzinsky 17 December 2017 - 01:45

Hi Clare,

In the example you give, your students must have a Works Cited. It's good to hear you are on it in this regard. Unfortunately, not everyone is.

But the Works Cited does not count towards the final word count. In fact, any citation doesn't across the IB (this is true for the EE as well). Just the words from the start of the column/article/listicle - including the title - to the end are used for the 800-1000 words.

As for your second question, that's a more difficult one. It's not clear. Go for a case-by-case decision. For example, if they are writing a blog post and referencing an advert that is text dense, I usually tell students not to count the words in the ad. This is because they are using the ad (even with a lot of text) as an image and they are still referencing it directly in their blog - directly quoting - which they have to count.

Again, this one is more tricky and use your best judgement in each situation.


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