IB English Overview

The IB English A: Language and Literature is a rigorous programme that trains students to critically analyse the variations in language use, literary styles, cultural contexts and to be able to produce assignments based on this awareness.

The course itself is divided into four parts.

Parts 1 and 2 focus on language.

  • The differences in the use of language in various media and genres (such as print advertisement versus cartoons)
  • The cultural contexts that define language use (the discrepancy between a text produced in 1800s and a text produced in 2000s, or between a text produced in America and another produced in the UK, etc.)

The students are trained to analyse a text for distinctive features that indicate the text's genre, domain, register, purpose, organization, style, the socio-economic-politico-cultural background of the author and the intended recepients, etc.

Parts 3 and 4 focus on literature.

Literature in translation and that produced in English are both studied. (HL students study 3 texts in each part while the SL students study 2 texts in each part)

The students are expected to be able to present a detailed analysis of the texts they have studied with repsect to the contexts in which the texts have been produced and received and a stylistic and linguistic analysis of the literary texts, the prevalent themes, the characterization, and so on.

The students are expected to maintain a portfolio of written tasks based on each part. In fact, of these written assignments, the best imaginative piece (of both HL and SL students) and the best detailed analysis (of only HL students) are selected for submission as part fulfillment of the external examination.

Thus, it is very important that student learn the art of critical evaluation of texts and the art of writing both essay and imaginative discourse.

In a nutshell, the IB English HL course differs from the SL one in the following ways:


  • Parts 1 and 2 are the same
  • Parts 3 and 4 require HL students to study 1 additional text each.


The IB English A Course for the HL students consists of 240 teaching hours versus the 150 hours for the SL students. This is mainly due to the intensive

External Assessment

The External Assessment Examination for both HL and SL students has 2 papers. However, the HL students get 2 hours for each paper, whereas the SL students only write their paper within 1.5 hours.

Paper 1

Unlike SL students who have to merely attempt an analysis of ONE unseen text, HL students are expected to choose between 2 pairs of unseen texts and attempt a comparative analysis of either one.

Paper 2

Both SL and HL students would attempt any ONE of the 6 given questions.

The HL students can opt for either 2 of their texts to base their answer on, whereas the SL students would have to write on BOTH their texts.

However, there is a difference in the criteria that the SL and HL students are assessed on.

Written Task

HL students have to compose at least 4 written tasks 800-1000 words essay accompanied by 200-300 words long rationale based on what has been studied in class and 2 of these tasks are selected for external evaluation. At least one of the submissions must be in response to the questions prescribed for HL additional study.

SL students too need to write 800-1000 words essay accompanied by 200-300 words long rationale based on what has been studied in class. However, only 1 of their 3 written tasks are submitted for external evaluation.

Internal Assessment

Both HL and SL students have to submit:

  • An Individual Oral Commentary on an extract from a literary text studied in Part 4.
  • 2 Further Oral Activities (one based on Part 1 and another based on Part 2).

Our Offerings: 

To know more about True North's IB courses for HL and SL students please click here.

For a more detailed IB English A: Language and Literaure Curriculum Model for HL and SL students click here