How to Prepare For Your IB English Individual Oral (IO)!

The English IO is a crucial part of your grade, whether you’re studying Language & Literature or Literature, at HL or SL. We’ve broken down the best tips on how to make sure that you’re going to smash the IO on the day! Whichever subject you’re taking, we guarantee that these tips will put you on the path to success.

Breaking Down the Criteria

To know how to score well in any IB assignment, we need to know how we’re graded. In your IO, you are assessed in 4 areas: 

  1. Knowledge, Understanding, and Interpretation
  2. Analysis and Evaluation
  3. Focus and Organization
  4. Language

Each of these areas is equally weighted, so your actual content is actually only worth 50%, with the other 50% coming from the format and presentation of your IO. As such, while it’s important to make sure that you are knowledgeable about the excerpts and how they relate to the global issue, don’t sleep on the importance of word choice, and (as will be discussed), how to structure your ideas!×300.png

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Think of the IO as an Essay

Too many times students completely disregard the notion of structure when they are asked to do an oral presentation. While we are taught the importance of introduction/body paragraphs/conclusion in writing, it feels as if this is less important in your IO as you’re just speaking… but that is NOT TRUE! When you are preparing for your IO, write out a clear essay structure and follow this on the day of your presentation. Not only will you find it easier to say on track, but your teacher (who ultimately grades your presentation) will understand what you’re trying to say and thus may score you better not only in criteria 3, but criteria 1 and 2!

Spend Time Choosing Your Global Issue

Fundamentally your grade will come down to how well you connect your excerpt(s) with the global issue of your choice. If you have thus established an inadequate global issue, everything you do after that will essentially be meaningless. Remember that a global issue needs to check off the following categories:

  1. It has significance on a wide/large scale
  2. It is transnational
  3. Its impact is felt in everyday local contexts

For example, interesting global issues could be ‘How does sexism affect perceptions of women worldwide?’ or ‘How does the media portrayal of African-Americans further racist stereotypes?’ – make sure to discuss with your English teacher before your IO so that they can give you tips on what they think makes a good global issue! Remember, they’re the ones who grade it in the end!×300.png

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Practice Speaking for 10 Minutes

10 minutes of uninterrupted speaking is a lot longer than you think it is… trust us. Time and time again students find themselves rushing through their points and are out of things to say after 8 minutes. What naturally ensues is 2 minutes of waffling before you get to the teacher’s questions. Those 2 minutes are in fact losing your points as they are probably unstructured ramblings. It’s incredibly important that in your preparation you continuously time yourself so that you are incredibly confident with the pace you should be speaking at to reach the time limit! Don’t lose points by going too fast!

Your Teacher is Trying To Help!

At the end of your IO you’ll have 5 minutes of questions from your teachers (which you are definitely still graded on). Trust us, your teacher wants to give you a good score on your IO as not only is it good for you, but they want their students to do well! As such, they’ll ask questions that they really think that you know the answer to already, most likely because you’ve discussed it in class. Make sure that in the weeks leading up to the IO you pay extra attention in class because your teacher might drop hints as to the types of questions that they’ll ask, and you can prepare for those questions. In addition, if you’re asked a question that you don’t quite understand, ask for clarification rather than trying to guess. Remember, waffling is never going to get you points, so make sure you have a clear answer in mind before you respond.  Don’t let the questions stump you – come prepared and the questions will be yet another part of the IO to impress the teacher in.


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