Academic Subjects

Tips for English A Literature HL

English A Literature HL is an intensive course with assessments such as the written commentary, oral commentary and more. As such, much of the course builds upon the skill of reading and analyzing texts. Here are some general tips that I used when analyzing texts for IB English Literature A HL that I hope will help you succeed! 

Identify literary devices in the text

When reading the texts, it is critical  that you pick up on the key features of it. 

Why? Literary devices help you to understand the text. They are the basis of the text, after all! Thus, they provide an excellent foundation for the thesis statement of your essay. 

How? First, familiarize yourself with literary devices here. Next, go through each line of the text and note if there is something that interests you, or if you recognize a literary device that is being used. This will help you later in your essay, as you’ll have textual evidence to choose from to use as examples. 

Another component of literature that might be useful to look at is diction, which is essentially word choice. By examining diction, the reader is able to delve deeper into the significance of certain words and their connections to literary devices, such as theme or characterization. This is particularly useful for any commentary or analysis piece. Similarly, one can also look at syntax, which has to do with phrases or sentences, for the same reason. 

Focus on how the text makes you feel

Ask yourself questions like,

  • What emotions are being evoked with this passage, and how? 
  • What message does this sentence convey?

Make connections between devices

Focus on questions like,

  • How does the use of *1st device* help convey the *2nd device*?
    • Example: “How does the use of metaphor help convey the theme of ____?”
  • How exactly does the author use the literary device (such as allegory, for example) to convey a message?
  • How does the *insert literary device* aid the reader’s understanding of the text? 
  • What is the intended effect of the *insert literary device*

Remember that it’s one thing to be able to identify the device, but it’s another to clarify on how that device is relevant. Be sure to clarify how the literary device provides evidence for your argument. Reading and analyzing texts may seem daunting, but it can be a fun and informative task once you get started!


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