Higher Level Essay: DP Language and Literature

20% of IB Grade, Externally Assessed

Excerpt from new subject guide

HL Essay

Students submit an essay on one non-literary text or a collection of non-literary texts by the same author, or a literary text or work studied during the course.  The essay must be 1,200 - 1,500 words in length. (20 marks) 20%

The nature of the task

At HL, students are required to write a 1,200 –1,500 word formal essay which develops a particular line of

inquiry of their own choice in connection with literature or a topic explored during the year.

  1. a non-literary text,  (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)
  2. a collection of non-literary texts by one same author, OR  (one author who is a columnist on a website or newspaper or magazine)
  3. a literary text or work studied during the course. (Pygmalion, So Long a Letter, Things They Carried, Literary Circle Book, poetry by Margaret Atwood)

The HL essay offers students an opportunity to develop as independent, critical and creative readers, thinkers and writers by exploring a literary or language topic over an extended period of time, refining their ideas by means of a process of planning, drafting and re-drafting. The essay requires students to construct a focused, analytical argument examining the work from a broad literary or linguistic perspective. It also requires them to adhere to the formal framework of an academic essay, using citations and references.

Explanation of the task

Selection of text, texts or work

Determining the topic

  1. Identity:The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of identity of a particular character or group of characters in the text, or on the way in which the text relates to the identity of the writer.
  2. Culture: The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of the culture of a particular place, institution or group of people, or on the way in which the text itself relates to a particular culture.
  3. Creativity: The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of individual or collective creativity, or lack of creativity, within the text, or on the way in which the text represents the creativity of the writer.
  4. Communication: The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of acts of communication, or failures in communication, in the text, or on the way in which the text itself represents an act of communication.
  5. Transformation: The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of transformation or transformative acts in the text, or on the way in which the text itself is a transformative act either of other texts through intertextual reference to them or of reality by means of a transformative effect on the reader’s identity,relationships, goals, values, and beliefs.
  6. Perspective: The student might be interested in an aspect of the representation of a particular perspective or perspectives within the text, or on the way in which the text represents the writer’s perspective.
  7. Representation: The student might be interested in an aspect of the way in which the text represents different themes,attitudes and concepts, or in the extent to which language and literature can actually represent reality.

The learner portfolio and the higher level essay

The learner portfolio is not specifically assessed but it is an important tool in helping students prepare for formal assessment. It provides a platform for students to develop independent thinking when studying texts, reflecting on the ways their texts and responses explore cultural values, identities, relationships, and issues across a variety of topics.

In relation to the preparation of the HL essay, the learner portfolio provides an opportunity for students to:

• reflect on the ways in which each text they read relates to the seven central concepts of the course

• keep an ongoing record of themes and issues they find interesting in relation to each of the texts they read

• explore how key passages in the texts they have studied are significant in relation to those themes and issues

• trace the evolution of their thinking and planning in connection with their chosen topic

• record references for, and ideas and quotations from, secondary sources they might want to mention in their essay

• reflect on the challenges that the HL essay poses for them as individual learners.

Guidance and authenticity

HL  Level Essay Rubric

Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding and interpretation: How well does the candidate demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the work or text Chosen?  To what extent does the candidate make use of knowledge and understanding of the work or text to draw conclusions in relation to the chosen topic? How well are ideas supported by references to the work or text in relation to the chosen topic?

The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.

There is little knowledge and understanding of the work or text shown through the essay in

relation to the topic chosen.

References to the work or text are infrequent or are rarely appropriate in relation to the

chosen topic.

There is some knowledge and understanding of the work or text shown through the essay in

relation to the topic chosen.

References to the work or text are at times appropriate in relation to the chosen topic.

There is satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the work or text shown through the

essay and an interpretation of its implications in relation to the topic chosen. References to the work or text are generally relevant and mostly support the candidate’s

ideas in relation to the chosen topic.

There is good knowledge and understanding of the work or text shown through the essay and a sustained interpretation of its implications in relation to the topic chosen.

References to the work or text are relevant and support the candidate’s ideas in relation to

the chosen topic.

There is excellent knowledge and understanding of the work or text shown through the essay and a persuasive interpretation of their implications in relation to the chosen topic. References to the work or text are well-chosen and effectively support the candidate’s ideas

in relation to the chosen topic.

0

0%

1-2

50%  60%

3-4

70  75%

5

80%  85%

6

90%   95%

7

98%   100%

 Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation: To what extent does the candidate analyse and evaluate how the choices of language, technique and style, and/or broader authorial choices shape meaning in relation to the chosen topic?

The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.

The essay is descriptive and/or demonstrates little relevant analysis of textual features and/or

the author’s broader choices in relation to the chosen topic.

The essay demonstrates some appropriate analysis of textual features and the author’s

broader choices in relation to the chosen topic, but is reliant on description.

The essay demonstrates a generally appropriate analysis and evaluation of textual features

and the author’s broader choices in relation to the chosen topic.

The essay demonstrates an appropriate and at times insightful analysis and evaluation of textual features and the author’s broader choices in relation to the chosen topic.

The essay demonstrates a consistently insightful and convincing analysis and evaluation of textual features and the author’s broader choices in relation to the chosen topic.

0

0%

1-2

50%  60%

3-4

70  75%

5

80%  85%

6

90%   95%

7

98%   100%

 Criterion C: Focus, organization and development: How well organized, focused and developed is the presentation of ideas in the essay? How well are examples integrated into the essay?

The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.

Little organization is present. No discernible line of inquiry is apparent in the essay. Supporting examples are not integrated into the structure of the sentences and paragraphs.

Some organization is apparent. There is little development of a line of inquiry. Supporting examples are rarely integrated into the structure of the sentences and

paragraphs.

The essay is adequately organized in a generally cohesive manner. There is some development of the line of inquiry. Supporting examples are sometimes integrated into the structure of the sentences and

paragraphs.

The essay is well organized and mostly cohesive. The line of inquiry is adequately developed. Supporting examples are mostly well integrated into the structure of the sentences and

paragraphs.

The essay is effectively organized and cohesive. The line of inquiry is well developed.

Supporting examples are well integrated into the structure of the sentences and paragraphs.

0

0%

1-2

50%  60%

3-4

70  75%

5

80%  85%

6

90%   95%

7

98%   100%

 Criterion D: Language: How clear, varied and accurate is the language?: How appropriate is the choice of register and style? (“Register” refers, in this context, to the candidate’s

use of elements such as vocabulary, tone, sentence structure and terminology appropriate to the HLessay).

The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.

Language is rarely clear and appropriate; there are many errors in grammar, vocabulary and

sentence construction and little sense of register and style.

Language is sometimes clear and carefully chosen; grammar, vocabulary and sentence

construction are fairly accurate, although errors and inconsistencies are apparent; the

register and style are to some extent appropriate to the task.

Language is clear and carefully chosen with an adequate degree of accuracy in grammar,

vocabulary and sentence construction despite some lapses; register and style are mostly

appropriate to the task.

Language is clear and carefully chosen, with a good degree of accuracy in grammar,

vocabulary and sentence construction; register and style are consistently appropriate to the

task.

Language is very clear, effective, carefully chosen and precise, with a high degree of accuracy

in grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction; register and style are effective and

appropriate to the task.

0

0%

1-2

50%  60%

3-4

70  75%

5

80%  85%

6

90%   95%

7

98%   100%

                                        

BRAINSTORMING FOR HL ESSAY: Tips from https://www.thinkib.net/

  1. Look back at your learner portfolio.  What literary work(s) and non-literary text(s) jump out?  What interests you?  Alternatively, look at the 7 concepts of the course.  What do you find interesting or worth exploring in greater depth?
  1. Consider these guiding questions for the Seven Central Concepts:
  1. Identity: To what extent does an author’s identity or a reader’s identity influence the way a text is interpreted? To what extent does an author show a character’s struggle with his or her identity?
  2. Culture: To what extent do values, beliefs, and attitudes of a time period influence a text’s meaning? How does the historical context of a work influence the way a reader interprets the text?
  3. Creativity: To what extent does an author’s style (literary techniques) influence the way a reader interprets the work?
  4. Communication: To what extent does an intended audience influence the way meaning is constructed and interpreted?
  5. Perspective: To what extent do time and place influence the way a reader understands a text’s meaning? How does the perspective of the reader play a role in understanding a text?
  6. Transformation: To what extent does one text influence another in order to create meaning? How does intertextuality play a role in creating meaning?
  7. Representation: To what extent does literature reflect or distort or exaggerate reality in the texts?
  1. Narrow your ideas down into a possible topic, title, or question you want to answer.  Talk with your teacher, with your peers, with anyone who will listen.  Clarify your ideas and arguments through discussion.
  2. Once you have decided on a line of inquiry, draw a spider diagram for it. Branch out from each aspect of your thinking and answer all parts of it in relation to the text or work you are focusing on.  Share your thinking with others to clarify your ideas even more.
  3. Write a thesis statement which will come at the end of the first paragraph. In your thesis statement, provide a focus for your essay.  What are you arguing and why?
  4. Quote hunt. Find quotations from the primary source that help you explore your line of inquiry. Rewrite them on pieces of paper. Look for similarities between the quotations and start to cluster them. What is the guiding idea behind each cluster of quotations? Could this ‘guiding idea’ become a ‘topic sentence’? How might these tie in to the thesis statement?  
  5. Write an outline to your essay using your spider diagram, thesis statement, quotations and more.  Make sure you stick between the 1200-1500 word limit.
  6. Assess several samples using the assessment criteria.  Review the expectations and what quality looks like.
  7. After you have written the first draft of the essay, think about how you can revise, edit, and proofread (and not just the night before!).

Title:

Text(s):

Thesis:


Quotes:

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