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Analysis is the prime focus of IB English Literature and Language & Literature. Don’t let analysis slip from your sight!

In this blog post, you will learn why analysis is essential to your success in IB English and whether you should be worrying about your analytical skills.

If you’re in your final year of IB and you still don’t fully understand how literary analysis works, then you are well and truly on-track for a world of pain. With IAs and mock exams coming your way pretty soon, you won’t have time to work on your analytical skills (which requires time commitment), and consequently your grades will slip—slowly at first, but faster and faster the longer you leave your analysis skills unattended.

But hang on! It’s not all doom and gloom. You have two choices:

  1. You can continue to ignore the fact that analysis is the most important piece of the IB English puzzle.
  2. You can accept that you drastically need to improve your analysis to avoid a tragic final exam in May or November.

The reality is that many IB English students pick the first (read: bad) option. This blog post will hopefully convince you to start filling the holes in your analysis knowledge ASAP.

Why analysis is brain-crushingly crucial

Analysis is the lifeblood of IB English. Every piece of assessment is marked on how well you can analyse a textual (IB English Literature) or visual stimulus (IB English Language and Literature).

Analysis matters in IB English because every assessment is marked on it.

Percentages that analysis takes up for every piece of IB English assessment. Including IB Literature and Language and Literature.

I’ve summarised the percentages that analysis, or “appreciation of writer’s choices”, takes up in every piece of IB English assessment for both Literature and Language & Literature.

In the Individual Oral Presentation, analysis comprises a whopping 33% of your total mark. For the Individual Oral Commentary and the Further Oral Activity, analysis also comprises 33% of your total marks. Let’s look at the Written Assignment now. Your ability to appreciate the writer’s choices is awarded a share of 24% of the criteria. In the Paper 1 commentary that you complete during your final IB exam, analysis takes up a significant 25% of your marks. Finally, in the Paper 2 essay, your quality of analysis determines one-fifth of your exam performance.

As you can see, these percentages add up to a hefty sum. Not only that, but analysis also indirectly influences other criteria, like Knowledge and Understanding of the text. So clearly, not understanding how to properly analyse means that:

  • you WILL lose precious marks, and;
  • your IB English score WILL suffer as a result of ignoring the importance of analysis to your IB Diploma.

Do I need to worry? Is my analysis good enough?

If you want to find out if you are in fact the target audience of this blog post, then read this exemplar piece of IB English analysis. It’s written by a top IB English student.

“In the prose extract, the protagonist climbs through the window and into the garage of the abandoned home. The climbing creates a creaking sound in the window sill, thus scaring the character and inspiring a sense of paranoia in himself. In the next paragraph, the character then lowers himself to the ground; his grunting suggests that he is highly-fatigued while his shaking legs intimate his anxiety towards the task ahead.”

  • What do you think about this paragraph of analysis? Is it good, very good, or excellent?
  • How does the analysis compare to your own analytical paragraphs? Is it better or worse?

If you think that this paragraph is a good, very good or excellent example of IB English analysis, then you are dead wrong.

I lied about it being an exemplar paragraph. It’s actually an incredibly bad example of analysis–so bad that it’s cringe-worthy. It would earn zero marks in all IB English assessment items because it is missing everything that is essential analysis. The ‘analytical’ paragraph contains nothing that is even remotely related to literary analysis, and that is a big problem.

If you didn’t realise that the paragraph is complete bogus, then this blog post was written for you. At this moment, you should definitely be worried about your analytical skills.

But there’s also good news: It is never too late to start learning analysis. I’ve seen many of my students—both online and in real life—improve their analysis skills in less than 2 or 3 weeks, so it is definitely possible to turn your analysis around.

Now the hard work begins for you.


Jackson Huang

Jackson is an IB 45 graduate and English tutor. He is studying at the University of Melbourne and teaches an online IB English analysis course.

1 Comment

MrWilson 2020 · November 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Nice resources Jackson. I have directed my students to your blog. There is an error in your lovely pie graph for Paper 1.

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