How to Prepare Your Texts for IB English Paper 2

How to Prepare Your Texts for IB English Paper 2

As an IB English tutor, I know how daunting Paper 2 can be for students. This paper requires you to write about two of the literary works you have studied, and it can be a significant challenge. However, with the right preparation, you can approach this exam with confidence. Here are some key strategies to help you prepare your texts for IB English Paper 2.

Know Your Works Inside Out

Remember, you cannot bring your texts into the examination, so you need to know them well. This doesn't necessarily mean memorizing every line but having a strong grasp of the key elements. You should be able to recall major plot points, character details, themes, and a few significant quotations. Try to summarize the works in your own words and reflect on their major themes and how they are developed.

Practice Without the Text

Try to fill out revision grids without referring to your literary works. This will help you gauge how well you know the texts and where you need to focus your revision. Key areas to focus on include:

  • The title of the work and the author’s name.
  • The publication date or first performance (for plays).
  • A succinct summary of the plot (not more than 100 words).
  • Key thematic concerns.
  • Important contexts (historical, cultural, political, etc.).
  • The setting and its significance.
  • Main and supporting characters and their development.
  • The mode of narration or narrative voice.
  • Structuration/plot details.
  • Language style and literary devices.

Understand the Significance

Reflect on what each work suggests about the human condition. Literature is not just about stories but also about offering insights into society, morality, and human experiences. Think about how your works relate to broader themes and what they reveal about different aspects of life.

Select Relevant Quotations

Choose 10-15 quotations that are particularly relevant or significant to understanding the work. Think about how these quotations reveal aspects of themes, characters, or settings. Remember, it's not about the quantity of quotations but their quality and relevance to your analysis.

Practice Writing Responses

Practicing writing responses to past examination papers is crucial. It’s not just about knowing the works but also about being able to structure and articulate your thoughts coherently under exam conditions. Pay attention to how you structure your essays, ensuring each paragraph has a clear point and relates back to the question.

Explore Different Perspectives

Consider different interpretations of the texts. Literature is open to various readings, and demonstrating this in your essays can show a deeper level of understanding. Discuss alternative viewpoints and analyze how they enrich your interpretation of the work.

Revision is Key

Regular revision is essential. Keep revisiting your notes, summaries, and key quotations. This will not only reinforce your memory but also deepen your understanding of the texts.

Seek Feedback

Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on your practice essays from teachers or peers. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and gain new insights into the texts.


Preparing for IB English Paper 2 is a process that involves deep engagement with your texts, practice, and reflection. By following these strategies, you can develop a comprehensive understanding of your chosen works and be well-prepared to tackle the exam confidently. Remember, the key to success in Paper 2 is not just knowing the texts but being able to engage with them critically and creatively.