Is IB English Hard

Is IB English Hard? Tips and Strategies to Conquer the Challenge

Is IB English Hard? IB English is considered one of the more rigorous subjects in the IB Diploma program. The course requires a strong reading, writing, and critical analysis foundation. Students must read and analyze various texts, including novels, poetry, and plays.

They must also be able to write effectively in various styles, including analytical essays, creative writing, and reflective pieces. The course demands a high level of critical thinking and independent analysis, which can be challenging for some students.


The workload for IB English can be heavy, especially when combined with other challenging IB subjects. Students must read and analyze multiple texts each week and complete written assignments and assessments regularly. 

The course also requires significant independent study and research, which can add to the workload. However, students passionate about literature and writing often find the workload manageable and rewarding.

Comparisons with Other IB Subjects

While IB English is considered challenging, it is not necessarily the hardest subject in the IB Diploma program. Subjects like History HL, Visual Arts HL, and Maths HL are often cited as being more difficult due to their complex content and high mathematical reasoning level. 

However, this can vary depending on the individual student’s strengths and interests. It is crucial for students to carefully consider their subject choices and choose subjects that align with their strengths and future goals.

Understanding the IB English Course

SL vs HL

The IB English course is offered at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). SL requires students to study two literary works in-depth, while HL requires students to study four literary works in-depth. 

HL students are required to complete an oral commentary and a written assignment, while SL students only need to complete a written assignment. HL students are also expected to have a more sophisticated understanding of literary analysis and language use.

Course Content

The uniqueness of the IB English course lies in its absence of a fixed curriculum with predefined topics. Instead, teachers can select from a list of prescribed authors and translated literature provided by the IBO. 

This flexibility enables a more personalized and adaptable teaching approach. The course encompasses various literary genres, including poetry, drama, and prose, requiring students to conduct in-depth analysis of literary texts, emphasizing themes, motifs, and literary techniques.


Assessments in IB English include both internal and external assessments. Internal assessments include oral commentaries, written assignments, and individual oral presentations. 

External assessments consist of two written exams, one of which is a literary analysis essay and the other is a comparative essay. 

The exams evaluate students’ capacity for literary text analysis and effective writing. SL and HL students are evaluated based on identical criteria, with HL students expected to showcase a more advanced grasp of literary analysis and language proficiency.

Skills Needed for Success in IB English

To succeed in IB English, students need to possess several critical skills. This section will cover the three primary skills necessary for success in IB English: Language Proficiency, Analysis and Interpretation, and Writing Skills.

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Language Proficiency

Language proficiency is essential for success in IB English. Students must have a strong English language command, including grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. 

They should be able to read and understand complex texts and communicate their ideas effectively in writing. Moreover, students must understand literary devices and techniques, such as imagery, symbolism, and figurative language.

Analysis and Interpretation

Analysis and interpretation are crucial skills for success in IB English. Students must be able to analyze and interpret literary texts, including poetry, prose, and drama. 

They should be able to identify themes, motifs, and symbols and explain how they contribute to the text’s overall meaning. 

Students must be able to analyze the author’s use of language, structure, and style to create meaning.

Writing Skills

Writing skills are essential for success in IB English. Students must be able to write clear, concise, and well-organized essays that demonstrate their understanding of the text. 

They should be able to use evidence from the text to support their claims and arguments and analyze the text in depth. 

Moreover, students must be able to write creatively and effectively, using literary devices and techniques to create meaning.

Preparation and Study Tips


Various resources are available for students preparing for the IB English exams. One of the best places to start is the official IB website, which has a wealth of information on the program and its requirements. 

Students can also find study guides, practice exams online, and resources provided by their schools or tutors.

Other helpful resources for IB English students include literary analysis guides, writing tips, and online forums where students can discuss the exams with their peers and get feedback on their work.

Tips and Tricks

Effective preparation for the IB English exams requires knowledge, practice, and strategy. Here are some tips and tricks that can help students maximize their performance:

  • Read extensively: Students should read a wide variety of literature in order to build their vocabulary, improve their comprehension skills, and develop their critical thinking abilities.
  • Practice writing: Writing is a crucial component of the IB English exams, so students should practice writing essays and commentaries regularly. They should also seek feedback from their teachers or tutors to help them improve.
  • Analyze literary devices: Students should be familiar with common literary devices such as imagery, symbolism, and metaphor and be able to identify them in the texts they read.
  • Manage time effectively: The IB English exams are timed, so students should practice managing their time effectively to complete all the required tasks within the allotted time.

Top Tutors and Teachers

Working with a qualified tutor or teacher can be extremely helpful for students preparing for the IB English exams. 

A good tutor or teacher can provide personalized instruction, help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, and provide feedback on their work.

Some top tutors and teachers for IB English include experienced educators, published authors, and former IB examiners. 

Students should look for tutors or teachers with a strong track record of success and are familiar with the IB curriculum and requirements.

Impact of IB English on the IB Diploma

IB English, part of Group 1 subjects within the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, demands students to cultivate robust analytical and critical thinking skills and exceptional reading and writing abilities.

Points Contribution

IB English is a Higher Level (HL) subject that carries a maximum of 7 points towards the IB Diploma. Students who achieve a score of 7 in IB English HL can earn up to 3 bonus points, which can be added to their overall IB Diploma score. 

However, according to the statistical bulletin, the average score for IB English HL is 4.67, which is the lowest for any English A course. This means that students who study IB English HL must work hard to achieve a high score.

Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a Self-standing research project that all IB Diploma students must complete. It is a 4,000-word essay on a topic of the student’s choice and a requirement for the IB Diploma. 

Students who choose to study IB English can use their knowledge of literature to write an Extended Essay on a literary topic. This can be a challenging task, but it can also be rewarding for students who are passionate about literature.

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a course unique to the IB Diploma Programme. This critical thinking course aims to develop students’ ability to analyze and evaluate knowledge claims. 

IB English can contribute to TOK by helping students develop analytical and critical thinking skills. Students who study IB English can analyze literary texts and evaluate the different perspectives presented in them. This can assist them in developing their ability to think critically and evaluate knowledge claims.

Final Advice for IB English Candidates

For candidates preparing for the IB English exam, the following advice can help them focus on their preparation and perform well on the exam.

First and foremost, candidates must understand the format and requirements of the exam. The exam includes two papers, with Paper 1 focusing on language and Paper 2 concentrating on literature. Candidates must be familiar with the types of questions that can be asked and the time allotted for each section.

Secondly, candidates must practice regularly to improve their language and literary skills. They can start by reading widely and analyzing texts critically. They can also write essays and practice answering past exam questions to better understand the format.

Thirdly, candidates must pay attention to their time management skills. They must allocate time for reading, analyzing, and writing each essay. They must also ensure that they have enough time to review their answers and make necessary changes.

Fourthly, candidates must focus on the author’s choices and how they affect the reader. They must be able to identify literary techniques used by the author and explain their impact on the text.

Lastly, candidates must seek help from their teachers, peers, or online resources if they have any doubts or questions. They also have the option to participate in study groups or attend revision sessions to enhance their comprehension of the topic.

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