Lectura: 6 minutos

How to improve your English B Internal Assessment (IA)

Sometimes you do not have the time to watch lots of videos and sort through lots of documents. If that describes you, then I highly recommend checking out the tips below. They are short and have loads of critical tips and tricks to help you succeed on your IA. Below you will find answers to one of the most common questions and doubts regarding the Internal English B Assessment.


Elena Grigorovici, IB Ambassador of English at IB Wave.

Table of Contents

Quick tips and tricks for students to improve your English B Internal Assessment

What should be done if a candidate’s presentation in the individual oral is shorter than 3 minutes?

In order to adhere to the overall timing of the activity, ensure that the second part, the discussion, is longer. 

What should be done if a candidate’s presentation in the individual oral is longer than 4 minutes?

The IB teacher must have control of the timing. It is important that the individual oral complies with the timing stipulated in the IB guide.

If the candidate begins to exceed 4 minutes in part 1 of the oral, it is up to the teacher to interrupt and indicate that part 2 must begin.

Can more than one candidate use the same literary extract?

Yes, this is allowed as long as the student does not know which extracts will be presented to them.

The chart in the Language B guide (first assessment 2020) illustrates how the teacher may choose to do this.

As students are allowed to annotate the extract, sufficient copies of each extract must be available for use during the activity. 

Are the candidates allowed to write on the extract?

Yes, candidates may mark up the extract.

Candidates are also to be given one sheet of blank paper on which they can make brief working notes (of no more than 10 notes in bullet-point form) during the 20-minute preparation period prior to the presentation.

What is the maximum number of literary extracts that can be used from each literary work studied?

The chart shown in the Language B guide for the HL IA literary extracts indicates the minimum number of extracts for a given number of students.

There is no maximum number of literary extracts.

Teachers are free to select more than three extracts per literary text studied to provide greater variety in the combinations presented to the students.

Does the literary extract have to be an uninterrupted passage from the literary work or can an extract that is longer than 300 words be used with part of it replaced by ellipses (…)?

Each literary extract must be an uninterrupted passage from the literary work.

Ellipses must not be used to omit content from within a selected passage.

The guidance indicating that each extract be “up to approximately 300 words” provides for a reasonable allowance over 300 words, given differences in languages and text content.

Can shorter passages from two different parts of a literary work be combined into one passage in order to reach, but not exceed 300 words?

Separate passages must not be combined into one extract.

The guidance indicating that each extract can be “up to approximately 300 words” provides for a reasonable allowance over 300 words, given differences in languages and text content.

If using a collection of poems, can candidates know in advance which poems the extracts for the individual oral assessment will be taken?

Teachers should approach a collection of poems as if it were a single work and can select extracts from any of the poems in this collection.

Although candidates must know which poems are included in the collection and that the collection will be one of the two “works” from which extracts will be taken, teachers must not disclose in advance from which of the specific poems the extracts will be taken.

During the individual oral assessment, candidates must be presented with one extract taken from a poem in this collection, and another extract taken from the other work (or collection of works) studied.

When using a graphic novel as one of the literary works of the language B HL course, how should teachers prepare the extracts?

It is important to remember that for graphic novels, both the text and the images create meaning.

It is recommended that text-heavy passages from graphic novels be used when selecting the literary extracts that will be used in the individual oral assessment.

When preparing extracts from a graphic novel, the pages from the graphic novel must be photocopied as they naturally occur in the work, complete with images and text (up to approximately 300 words).

This applies only to graphic novels; for all other literary forms (poetry, drama, novel, novella, short story), extracts are to be copied onto plain paper with only the title and author included as additional information.

In Criterion B2, what is the difference between "broad in scope and depth", and ideas are "developed"?

It may be useful to think of ‘responses are developed’ as referring generally to whether the student’s ideas are supported or not (by examples, explanations, justifications etc.).

‘Broad in scope and depth’ should be seen NOT as referring to the number of different topics IB students cover in the conversation, but rather as referring to the range of ideas the student offers in discussing the topic(s), and how deeply they consider the topic(s).

It is possible for students to offer responses that are broad in scope and depth on one theme/topic, or on multiple themes/topics.

In Criterion B2, what does "attempts to engage the interlocutor" mean? How is this different from "independent contribution" in Criterion C?

It is important to note that Criterion B is about Message, while Criterion C is about Interactive Skills.

Attempts to engage the interlocutor in Criterion B2 mean that the student is being engaging and inviting in the conversation through the ideas they present; for example, by having an understanding of where the conversation is going and offering ideas that might be of interest to the teacher.

This may be indicated by phrases like, “Did you know that…”, “Have you heard that…”. (Note: “attempts to engage the interlocutor” in B2 is given as “and/or”.

Therefore, students may be awarded maximum IB marks in this criterion without demonstrating any attempts to engage the interlocutor. 

Independent contribution in Criterion C is about whether the student is able not only to maintain the conversation, but contribute actively to it, such as by taking the initiative to move the conversation forward.

This may be indicated by phrases that acknowledge the contribution of the other person then go on to bring up something related.

In both cases, it does NOT mean that the student should lead the conversation by asking the teacher the questions.

What happens if the student is very good, but the teacher keeps interrupting them so they can't finish their thoughts?

In individual orals where the teacher’s voice, input or observations appear to dominate the conversation and interaction, IB examiners are reminded that they are to mark the student’s actual contributions against the criteria and NOT any potential contributions that may have been attempted. 

If the teacher/student does not link the general discussion to the Themes, should students be penalized?

The student does not get penalized if the teacher does not link the general discussion directly to one or more of the 5 prescribed themes.

Instead, the student’s IB mark in the IA will be applied following the criteria in the normal way.

What do we do if the teacher does not ask questions about the presentation / extract in Part 2?

There are no set penalties for an IB oral exam that does not include a Part 2: follow-up discussion (i.e. go straight into general discussion) or Part 3: general conversation (i.e. focus entirely on the literary extract), and examiners should apply the criteria in the normal way.

The impact of a school omitting a Part 2 or Part 3 on the IB final marks awarded depends on the exact scenario, but examples may include lower marks in B2 if staying on the topic of the literary extract or the Theme lead to the student’s ideas becoming repetitive.

However, the full range of marks in both B2 and C should still be available to them if the responses and interaction meet the descriptors in the criteria.

More tips

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