the hl english exam consists of two papers: a blind commentary and a compare/contrast essay of two works previously studied. the foundation of these two essays will always go back to the thesis, essentially the focus of your papers. in developing a thesis statement, there are 5 basic elements to include that will help you fashion the most effective thesis statement that is central to your exam papers. 

step 1: write down the title of the work

underline the title if it is a novel (which it will most likely be) or put it in quotations if the piece is a short story/poem

step 2: add the author’s name

you would be surprised by how many people forget this seemingly obvious step. make sure to spell the author’s name correctly. at this point, your thesis could look something like this:

  • in The Road by Cormac McCarthy

step 3: concisely describe what is literally occurring

use a short phrase to summarize the plot, straightforwardly describe what is happening to the characters. the following is an example:

  • a man and his son struggle to survive in post-apocalyptic United States

step 4: suggest an underlying meaning

in this step, you are looking to incorporate what the author is trying to convey to the reader in their work. it could be a political commentary, an allusion to societal problems, or perhaps a statement on the influence of religion. often, this is the hardest part of crafting the perfect thesis statement. it is the part of the thesis that you will continually refer back to throughout your essay, as you argue how the author imparts this message through the novel. in The Road, it could be any of these: 

  • importance of family in the face of disaster 
  • youth as a symbol of hope for the future
  • loss of compassion and morality
  • role reversal of father and son/passing of torch to next generation

step 5: include an overarching literary device

to support the presence of the underlying meaning you chose from step 4, you need to determine what literary device enables the author to subtly address said topic. it should be a feature that permeates the entire novel. it might be an obvious aspect, such as the author’s use of juxtaposition but it could also be a device that’s not so easily observed, such as the use of time or incorporation of flower imagery. examples from The Road include:

  • archetypal journey
  • symbolism
  • imagery
  • diction 

finally: put it all together

arrange all the 5 pieces together to form a coherent sentence. this will serve as a basis for your essay, from which you will stem your main points

  • In The Road by Cormac McCarthy, symbolism is used to illustrate the passing of the torch to the younger generation through the journey of a man and his son struggling to survive in post-apocalyptic United States.
  • In The Road, author Cormac McCarthy utilized diction to emphasize youth as a symbol of hope for the future in his description of a man and his son struggling to survive in post-apocalyptic United States.

additional examples:

  • In “Antaeus” by Seamus Heaney, the paradox of one’s elevation being one’s downfall is highlighted by direct references to the Greek myth of Antaeus and Hercules, which carry political undertones relating to Irish nationalism in the face of British imperialism. 
  • In “A Hazel Stick for Catherine Ann” by Seamus Heaney, autobiographical references to Heaney’s daughter emphasize the passing of the torch to the next generation through the description of the speaker trimming a hazel stick for a child.

hopefully this helps you in some way, whether it’s on your ioc or on papers 1&2! let me know if you have any questions!


[monday 28/01/17, 12:45]
happy cny everyone!! 新年快乐🎊
haven’t posted any original content in such a long time whoops! but here are the cue cards i used in my english iop last tuesday - admittedly spent longer on them than i should have… ☆彡

June 12th {25/100}

Day 25 of my 100 days of productivity! I have to read 1984 and Persepolis by the end of the summer break. Even though summer break is still a few weeks away, I’m starting the books now in hopes that I’ll actually manage to finish them by the start of the school year. One good thing is that I know there is an audiobook for the 1984 and there is a movie for Persepolis :) 


15:33 | 18/10/15 Finally completed by mind map on the Handmaid’s Tale! Not too happy with how it turned out, it was really difficult to succinctly write about all the topics I wanted to and I didn’t even find the space to write about the style. Maybe I’ll make a separate map for that. Only one more map to write and then I’m done with these full mind maps for English! Starting to feel prepared for the comparative essay exam in November!

Journaling is personal: it’s one of few things that you can really be yourself for and express your thoughts as well, which is fantastic and relaxing but I can’t help but notice how many people struggle with making journal entries, finding that perfect journal, or knowing when they should write. If you are interested, read on!! 

 How To Journal

 As always, I am not a professional, in fact I’m not sure if there’s a personal journaling professional in the first place. I hope this article can help you in anyway towards your goal of kick ass journaling. 

 Part 1- Finding a Journal 

1. Surprisingly, most people give up on journaling before they even begin, and they’re main reason is they couldn’t find a journal. In my early begins, of course then I was 11 years old, I began journaling on loose leaf paper, but I understand the want for something more private and sturdy. There are two main methods: - an actual journal - an digital journal such as an app or a writing computer program like evernote. 

 2. An actual journal This is the kind of journaling I prefer most. When purchasing a journal, it doesn’t even need to be a journal! Fancy journals are nice, but pricey, cheaper journals are much more of a project, you can decorate and personalize them to what you want. Decoration can also go inside the journal, you can paste tickets from the movie you saw last week and that Polaroid from the top of that cliff you hiked, the possibilities are endless. Not matter what journal you end up buying, it’s the writing itself that is the important part, the real beauty of journaling. 

 3. Digital journaling. If you are a busy bee and would like to cut down the time consuming process of writing, without cutting journaling out as a whole, then digital journaling might be for you! Typing can be faster than writing, and less of a bother to hide your journal from prying eyes. You can decorate and personalize an electronic document just as you could with an actual journal, but whereas a written journal can go anywhere without the need for wifi, digital journals have their limits, but that all depends on whatever you choose to use. Suggestions: - Evernote (a favorite of mine, can be used on the computer or as an app on your phone. Download is on their website. ) - Jotterpad (paid app on the Google play store, but a top choice for writing and journaling) - use the Notes app built into your phone! (It’s a free and organized choice) 

 4. If you decide on a actual journal, you should choose a pen that feels good but don’t spend all of your money on a fancy pen, it’s the words written that are the most important. 

 Part 2- Journaling 

1. There are many types of journals to keep • fitness journals - maybe tour a gym queen or maybe you’re looking to start running again, fitness journaling is a great way to keep track if all the obstacles you hit and the progress you’ve made • travel journals - maybe it’s a one time vacation or writing of your dreams to go to Paris. Record your feelings and emotions changed by the world. • idea journal - write your ideas and inspirations. This could be for any reason. • bullet journal - a great favorite of mine, and the studyblr community, bullet journaling is a great personalized agenda for motivation and everyday tasks. Find out more with the hashtag #bullet journal to find inspiration. Or I could possibly make a how to for the future? Ask if you want! • daily journal, etc! Your journal could be one of these journals, a combination of journals, or a new journal type on its own, there’s no rule against it! 

 2. What to write. This is tricky, and depends on your personal writing style. You could write your days events and emotions as a narrative, or you could write it as if you were talking to the journal (this is the way I perfer), but everyone wants to know exactly where they should start. - many people tend to list what the day was like without actually adding what they thought about it, yet writing little facts and details from your perspective really opens up your conscious. Maybe you feel upset with a friend but aren’t exactly sure as of why, maybe you got angry during the day and you need to rant what it was about. Writing all of these things can seem dumb at first, and you can feel embarrassed about writing it all down. But sometimes during the writing process you can find answers you needed or just feel more relaxed about what is happening. 

 3. When you’re writing. You should find a place that is quiet and you feeling comfortable in, even if it is a mind space you create for yourself. Some people enjoy soft music, some need dead silence, others feel relaxed with a candle, some even journal while soaking in the tub. The time to journal is whenever it is right for you. Maybe your a morning bird with thoughts banging to be let out, maybe you’ve just bought an afternoon coffee and found some free time at your local park, maybe you’ve just gotten home from work and your bosses voice nagging you on needs to be let out. You can journal everyday, or maybe you only feel the need to journal every other week. Keeping your journal as an option to relax and let your feelings out is better than making a commitment to journaling. 

 4. Where to keep your journal. If you still live with your family it is understandable that you want to keep your journal secret. I recommend buying a plain, unnoticeable colored journal in the first place, maybe earth tones like brown leathers or black. You could put your journal under your mattress, you could stuff it inside an old book from the 1st grade, or you could take your chances in hiding it amidst the family bookshelf. Any spot should be accessible for you to reach at any time. Digital journals can be hidden files or attachments too, but your best bet is putting a password on your computer, and make it a complicated one if you’re really that nervous. 

 5. Decoration. Journaling isn’t simple writing, for most of us journal junkies we paste in little memos, we make ridiculous doodles, we write in exerpts of songs or put in that pun you found on a sticky note in class. The journal is personal and you should make it yours. Journals can get you out of your hardest times, journals can be that best friend you gossip to and reflection back onto journals from 1, 2, 3 and even 10 years ago is one of the most incredible things you can experience. 

 "Paper has more patience than people.“ ~ Anne Frank, one of the most noted journal keepers in history.

 I hope this helped you out, or even inspiring you to begin journaling, any way… - study-guppy.

April 4th {6/100}

Day 6 of my 100 days of productivity! So today I finally managed to get to one of the most dreaded tasks I have for spring break… READING. I should have finished The Great Gatsby weeks ago, but procrastinated to a whole new level and left it until now. Don’t be fooled by the headphones in this pic, hinting towards me reading whilst listening to music, I assure you I don’t. Not that listening to music while reading is a bad thing! Some people actually find it helpful in being able to concentrate better. But for me, it just further distracts me and overall doesn’t help. What I’m actually getting at is what I am listening to. I always listen to the audiobooks for anything I’m reading (if they are available) or have my computer read stuff out to me. I listen to the book and read at the same time. For anyone with dyslexia, or just anyone who finds it particularly difficult to read, I would 100% advise you to do this. 

I’m working on a post right now that summarises how to get your computer to read stuff out loud to you, because I FEEL YOU, I REALLY DO. I know how frustrating it can get, and found it so incredibly helpful myself. 

13:53 | 1/11/15 Can’t believe it’s already November! Exams starting in two days, so I’m trying to fit in as much English as I possibly can before Tuesday! I was busy performing all day yesterday and got no work done, so I have to try and do more today than usual. Looking forward to getting English out of the way first, but a bit sad that I won’t have any more work for my favourite lesson anymore.

How to write a good paper 1 (Comparative textual analysis) - English A: Lang and Lit (HL)

Hey guys!! I’m here today to help you all out and give you some tips on how to write a good paper 1 (comparative textual analysis) for HL English language and literature (within the time restrictions!!!)

First off, you always have to start by planning. The real exam is about two hours long, which means that you should spend about 10 to 20 minutes planning your essay, depending on how you work better. Some people need less planning time cause they’re able to recall things easily whilst others find it easier to just spend some time jotting down everything that they want to include in the essay (in note form, of course) before actually starting to write it. Although planning may seem like a bit of a bore, it may save your life in the exams, because trust me, no one likes having to go back and forth when reading an essay just to try and find that particular asterisk that the student drew on the paper. You know what im talking about.

Here are some tips on how to spend the first 10-20 mins of the exam:

Tables! They’re great. Here’s one that’s really gonna help you out

Ill be posting an example of a paper one in a lil while (currently editing it and adding annotations and stuff)