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IB English Paper 2 | Explained

This guide will help you learn all about what IB English paper 2 is about and how you can ace this exam. While it may seem daunting at first, if you have the right mindset and the confidence in your abilities to be able to do well, then you will surely be able to ace it.

Paper two is essentially one step ahead of paper one. You don’t only need to have analytical skills, but you also need to prepare extensively to make sure that you get things done the way you want to.

So let’s learn in depth about what this is all about and how you can work toward acing this. 

What is IB English paper 2?

IB English Paper 2 is an exciting yet challenging exam that tests the analytical skills of International Baccalaureate students. Through essay questions, students are required to demonstrate their grasp of literary elements such as themes, metaphors, and symbolism, while also showcasing their ability to effectively communicate their thoughts in writing. In short, IB English Paper 2 is a test of a student’s literary prowess and writing acumen.

This paper mainly consists of three or four prompts (in some cases there might be six prompts to choose from).

Below you will find examples of IB English paper 2 prompts according to Edublogs:

  • Readers are often enticed by the idiosyncratic or quirky narrator. Compare how at least two
    authors that you have studied have crafted such distinctive voices, and to what effect.
  • Compare the presentation and function of villains or anti-heroes in at least two works of
    prose fiction that you have studied.
  • In at least two works of prose fiction that you have studied, discuss the presentation of
    competing ideas, hopes or visions and consider the effects created.
  • Compare the use and function of seemingly insignificant detail in at least two works of prose
    fiction that you have studied.

As a student, you are expected to choose one out of these and then write a 1000 to 1500-word essay on this. Like with Exhibition IA prompts, it’s crucial to select the right prompt that will lead to a better score. 

How many hours for IB English paper 2?

For an SL student, you get 1.5 hours, and for HL students, you get 2 hours. Here, you are expected to write a comparative essay. You should delve deeper into the details of what is required of you and then you have to work toward that in the best way. 

When is the English paper 2 exam?

The IB English Paper 2 exam is held twice a year, in May and November, as a part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. However, the exact date of the exam may vary depending on the location and school, so it’s best to check with the official IB website or your school for the specific exam dates.

How to answer a paper 2 question?

The examiner wants to notice your analytical skills. So when you start, you have to be very precise with what you are doing.

Not just that, but you also have to make sure that you spark the right ideas and have your brain thinking in the right direction. You are expected to go into the details of things and make sure that you show the examiner how deeply you are thinking. 

The key of the prompt

You need to look for an important word or phrase in the prompt you are given so that you understand exactly what is required of you and how you are supposed to work your way through that. Remember that it is important for you to go into the details of things first so that the examiner can understand what you are saying or doing. 

Get comfy with morphing 

Remember that you have to show your analytical skills as much as you can. So for that, you have to make sure that you get comfortable with twisting and morphing texts.

The examiner needs to understand things from your perspective, so you have to make sure that you present the texts in the right way. You have to make use of your ideas in the best possible way so that all of it fits the prompt in the best possible way.

It is also a really great idea to redefine the prompt in a reasonable way so that there is nothing vague about the whole situation. Remember that if you have greater clarity on this, then you can surely do a much better job at this. You have to present your ideas in the right way. 

How many texts to compare and contrast?

how many texts for ib english paper 2

It is recommended that you use two tests to compare and contrast in this paper. While you can opt for three texts also, understand that only makes things more complicated and you will end up finding the analysis even harder to do. Therefore, you have to bear this in mind when opting for 3 texts for comparison.

Writing Metier suggests you select 2 texts to compare, as it will still follow the general criteria and keeps things easier for you while working on your English paper 2.

Choosing the best points 

If you pick two points from each point that you will talk about and answer, then it will become a lot easier for you, and you will know how to work your way through things well. But that will get you a score of 5.

If you want to score higher, then you will naturally have to work much harder. For that, you have to choose points that are stronger. You will also have to discuss them in a lot more detail. Remember that the examiner wants to see your analysis in terms of how deep you are going and how much more you can talk about. So try to be as analytical as possible if you want to score well on this.

To do a sorted analysis, the best thing you should be doing is brainstorming. You have to plan things out very well to make sure that you do a sound job with this. Remember that the most important thing at this point in time is for you to plan things out in the right way. Before you get to the writing part, it is important that you know what all you are going to talk about and how much detail you want to go into. 

Brainstorming for English paper 2

When brainstorming, understand that there are going to be many different variables that you will have to consider. So when you work on all of this, you have to make sure that you have answers to many different questions in your mind.

You have to redefine the prompts and morph the texts in the best possible way. Since this is a comparative essay, you must ensure you are as adaptable as possible. You can also make use of a brainstorming framework so you achieve a set of points that match the prompt. 

How to prepare for paper 2?

You already know the amount of planning that goes behind all of this. So the most important thing here is that you really understand the text that you will be working on. After you fully well understand what it is all about, you have to choose great quotes that can help you support your argument in the best way.

It is also important that you practice past papers for this. When you do so, you will better understand what this is all about. This will help you get a better idea of what you have to do and what is expected of you in this situation.

In addition to that, another great way that you can do well on the analysis paper is by reading from many credible sources. When you read through these credible sources, you will better understand how you can work your way through this. 

Choosing great quotes for IB English paper 2

You must already be aware that you are not allowed to bring texts into the exam. So for that purpose, you have to learn all the important quotes beforehand. For this reason, you have to choose and learn the best quotes. The quotes you choose have to be versatile.

Below, sharing a list of some famous quotes that can be applicable to most IB English paper prompts:

  1. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  2. “I have a dream…” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
  5. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
  6. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  7. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley, Invictus
  8. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates
  9. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
  10. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A great way to go about this is to learn minimum quotes – but whatever you choose to learn, make sure that it is very impactful and allows you to work your way through things well. Understand how important this is and how this can help you work your way through things in the right way. 


So this way, if you follow the guidelines given here, you can surely do a much better job with paper 2. Just make sure you know exactly what you are doing. This way, you will be able to work your way through things well.

It is important that you believe in yourself and your abilities to do a decent job. You have to make sure that you understand what all you are given first and then you plan and brainstorm in a way that allows you to do a decent job.

If you are still confused and need help with this paper or searching for other IB writing services, we at the Writing Metier can help you.

Get in touch with our IB writers and we will guide you through what needs to be done.first-time-discount-writingmetier

Vasy Kafidoff

Vasy Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at Writing Metier, who has a keen interest in the academic world and technology. He has been an EDU-romantic for more than 8 years now, and he is excited about the way technology shapes educational systems. Check his personal blog Kafidoff.com to get a better understanding of the work he does.

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