Study Series: HL Literature

HLLIT_EricaWriter: Leela H.

Visual: Erica N.

Editor: Kay S. 

Greetings fellow litters and welcome to the world of IB Literature. Now, whether you’ve ended up here to further your pursuit of all things literary or you just really hated TEAPCALIM (text type, elements of the text type, audience, purpose, contect, author, language, images, meaning), this study guide will/should have some useful tips and tricks to make your life as an IB Literature student easier. Because if you’re a student who is willing to put in some extra work and follow these guidelines this should (hopefully) help you get to the grade you want.

Tip 1:  Read the texts you’re meant to analyze. It may seem simple enough, but you’d be surprised to find out how many students don’t bother to read them. Actually reading the texts you’re meant to in class can go a long way. Not only should you be reading the texts because they’re part of your curriculum, but because they contribute heavily to your learning and can provide students with a more holistic understanding of the texts. This is especially true because while many students in previous years relied on websites like Cliff Notes and Shmoop for literary insights, the fact is there are many texts covered in the current IB A literature course which are more obscure. To put it simply, as Mr. Butcher, the head of the English department and HL literature teacher, advised, “The best way to study for lit: to read literature.” That being said there is a lot of prescribed reading to do; so to make it easier on yourself you can try setting small chunks of pages to read every day as a goal. That way you won’t find yourself reading an entire play the day before an assessment.

Tip 2: Make sure to read books, graphic novels, poetry, etc.. outside of class too. While it’s important and valuable to read and do well in your analysis of in-class texts don’t forget about the world of literature that exists outside the classroom. Reading on your own time can increase the number of authors you’re familiar with, and may even end up helping you further down the road. However, in the words of Mr. Butcher,“(don’t) just read to enjoy it, but read to become conscious of the language techniques that affect how we respond and receive a work of literature. Literary devices!” Essentially, while you shouldn’t read texts you hate, you should make sure to be actively looking out for the usage/application of literary devices in literature and how they impact/further the story.

Tip 3: CHECK THE GOOGLE DRIVE FOLDER. I cannot stress this enough, when in doubt check out the English A Literature folder. Although many teachers utilize Google Classroom as a means to share information, the literature course has an additional shared drive with some incredible resources. The shared drive includes past papers, questions, prompts, new literary devices, and orals. Not only that, but the shared drive is also the only place where you can find exemplars and formal critique/analyses of all the texts and/or authors explored in class. This is also a place where you can find material to study ahead of time– if that’s your sort of thing. And if all that wasn’t reason enough to explore the google drive folder. The google drive folder is also home to the notes and work of your fellow lit rockstars. So it’s a good place to share resources.

Tip 4: Share your resources. Literature is not graded on a curve! While there’s no doubt that ISM can be a competitive academic environment, it’s important to remember that classes like literature are based on the merit of your work and your work alone. There is no curve, which means that there’s no incentive for you or anyone else to hoard study materials. Help out your friends and classmates. Share your notes, analysis, and quote sheets with a group, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t just be a freeloader, contribute to shared documents too. A great example of this is your dialectical notebook (DNB), where you combine important quotes with analysis. If nothing else talk to and engage with other students over their interpretations of scenes or characters. Literature can be extremely subjective, and many texts will have multiple interpretations, therefore hearing others interpretations can increase the connections and points you may be able to make.

Tip 5: Learn the major literary movements. When writing your Paper 1 you will almost always be given the time period in which the piece was written. By learning the timeline and differences between the major literary movements, like romanticism and transcendentalism, you learn about the cultural context a piece is grounded in. And, when you know the cultural context of that time and the literary movement the piece is a part of, you can pick up on major themes with greater ease. Take advantage of the value of cultural context to write to the best of your ability.

Tip 6: Pace yourself while writing. Look the fact is if you’re taking literature as an HL subject you’re probably fairly confident in your skills as a reader and/or writer. That being said, even though you may be capable of writing 2 body paragraphs in the last 10 minutes of an assessment doesn’t mean you should. Avoid pacing problems like this as much as possible, because you produce your best work when you can take the time to think through each sentence before you put it down on paper. If you find yourself struggling with pacing try setting yourself time limits for each section of your essay. For example, it should take you between 10-15 minutes to plan an essay, 10 minutes to write an intro, and then you should plan to have around 15 minutes per body paragraph, and use the remaining time to edit your essay and write a conclusion.

All in all IB Literature is an extremely engaging although rigorous class- just like most IB subjects. That being said, as important as it is to study literature and get good grades, don’t forget to enjoy the texts you read as well. Good luck, I hope that this guide has been at least somewhat helpful.