Paper 2 – practice question: “…ignorance is bliss …”

Before analyzing the text make sure to review your paper 2 resources. Paper 2 questions are very broad and can be adapted to a large number of works in a number of different ways.

  1. Identify the keys words in the question.
  2. Think about the works you can write about for paper 2 (i.e. ones you have not used for your IA oral or HL essay). How well do the key words in the question fit two of your works?
  3. What are the different ways in which you can approach the key words between the two works and even within the two works?
  4. How can you make sure you sufficiently address the requirements of criteria A and B if you choose this question and the two works you have chosen?
  5. On an actual Paper 2 you will of course need to quickly evaluate all of the questions on the exam and decide which one to answer.

From an IB specimen paper:

“Some say ignorance is bliss. How is “not knowing” presented in two of the works you have studied and to what effect?”

  • The previous Lang and Lit curriculum had some questions like these – two sentence where one of the sentences could seemingly be removed with affecting the question. In this case the whole question is completely contained in the second sentence. Can you ignore the first question and still effectively answer the question?
  • What are different ways in which an author could present “not knowing”?
  • How is “not knowing” presented in your works? Why are the authors trying to achieve by doing this?
  • How is the “not knowing” presented in your works similar to or different from related concepts such as education, ignorance, intelligence, etc.?
  • “What textual features and / or broader authorial choices are used to develop “not knowing”?

A quick practice for paper 2 can involved more than brainstorming the above points. You could also do some or all of the following:

  • Write an organized set of notes that helps you answer the paper 2 for each of the two works.
  • Organize the notes into a rough essay outline.
  • Write a thesis statement that directly answers the exam question.
  • Write a short introduction. The introduction should clearly outline the two works, your basic approach to the question, a bit of relevant information about each work, and close with your thesis statement.

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