Ib English Written Assignment Rationale Meaning

Before you write written tasks, you should look at the assessment criteria. This way you know what the examiner is looking for. The best way to become familiar with the criteria is to use them regularly. For each written task that is entered into the portfolio, there should be some form of self assessment, peer assessment and teacher assessment.

Remember: Teachers are not allowed to edit or annotate students' written tasks. This does not mean that teachers cannot give feedback. Rather, teachers can and should tell students how they think they will score according to the assessment criteria. What's more, teachers should be involved in guiding students towards appropriate ideas for the written task.

Written task 1

Here is a summary of what you will want to look for in each criterion at both SL and HL. A handy print out for assessing student work is also provided. For the actual descriptors, we refer you to the IB Language A: Language and Literature guide.

Criterion A - Rationale - 2 marks
It is essential that students include a rationale before the actual task. The rationale must be no fewer than 200 words and no longer than 300 words. The rationale should shed light on the thought process behind the task. Furthermore, it should explain how the task aims to meet one or more learning outcomes of the syllabus.

Remember:  If the word count of the rationale exceeds 300 words, 1 mark will be deducted.

Criterion B - Task and content - 8 marks
The content of a task should lend itself well to the type of text that one chooses. The task should demonstrate an understanding of the course work and topics studied. Finally, there should be evidence that the student has understood the conventions of writing a particular text type.

Criterion C - Organization - 5 marks
Each type of text has a different structure. Nevertheless, all types of texts have conventions and organizing principles. Students must organize their tasks effectively and appropriately. There must be a sense of coherence.

Criterion D - Language and style - 5 marks
The language of the task must be appropriate to the nature of the task. This means that students use an appropriate and effective register and style. Whatever the nature of the task, ideas must be communicated effectively.

Written task 2 (HL only)

The following criteria apply to the criticial response that HL students write on one of the six prescribed questions.

Criterion A - Outline - 2 marks
For the critical response, students are asked to write a brief outline of the task that includes the following:

  • The prescribed question to which the task refers
  • The title of the text, or texts, that the student analyzes
  • The part of the course to which the task corresponds (Parts 1-4)
  • Four or more bullet-points that explain the content of the task

Criterion B - Response to question - 8 marks
To achieve top marks for this criterion, students must explore all of the implications of the prescribed question chosen. The critical response must be focused on and relevant to the prescribed question. Furthermore, the response is supported by well chosen examples from the text(s). 

Criterion C - Organization and argument - 5 marks
The response must be well organized and effectively structured in order to score top marks for this criterion. The response should make a case and develop it thoroughly.

Remember: The critical response must be 800 -1,000 words. If this is not the case 2 marks will be deducted for Criterion C.

Criterion D - Language and style - 5 marks
The response must be written effectively and accurately. Students should use an academic register and strong style.

Out of the mouths of babes
Michael Michell 
International School of Amsterdam

For Part 2 of my English course we studied how women are portrayed by the media. We began by viewing Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly 3 and reading Kilbourne’s book The More You Subtract, The More You Add. I refer to statistics and facts from this sources in the written task. 

The Calvin Klein ad pictured here, the one that I refer to in my written task, is one I also used for an “ad critique presentation” (IB further oral activity). We spent time in class asking ourselves who was responsible for several problems, including the social construction of gender, beauty and sexuality to the often dangerous behaviors advertisements seem to promote (eating disorders, objectification of women, violence against women, hyper-masculinity, and others). We also discussed ways in which individuals and groups can resist these problems and promote social change.

An opinion column seemed to be the ideal forum for me to write.  I wanted to move from the specific problems I saw in this ad and speak to the larger issues it points to.  I read many writers of Op-Eds and decided to model mine after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd because her voice combines comic elements with biting commentary.  Her columns, like many other Op-Ed writers, are grounded in the writer’s personal life. It contains not only her opinion, but many newsworthy statistics and a call to action.

I believe that have met several of the learning outcomes for Part 2. I have examined different forms of communication within the media, by looking at a range of texts, from ads and opinion columns to documentaries and counter ads. I have also shown an awareness of the potential for ideological influence of the media, by looking at both sexist ads and counter-propaganda, such as Kilbourne’s speech. 


Jhally, Sut. Director. (2000).  Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women featuring Jean Kilbourne. New York: Media Education Foundation.

Kilbourne, Jean. (2000).  The more you subtract, the more you add: Cutting girls down to size.  In Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel.  Charmichael, CA: Touchstone Press.

My child walked into the study last night while I was hammering away on a column about W.’s inability to use the English language in a speech he delivered to the National Education Association conference this past weekend.

“Mommy, look at me.  I’m beautiful.”

I turned around, reading glasses perched on the end of my nose, peering over the top to see my eight-year-old posing, nearly naked, hips jutting provocatively forward and gently sucking a thumb, in one of her father’s dress shirts from the laundry basket and CK written in my red lipstick on the pocket, only one lower button closing the shirt so my baby’s privates were just covered like the proverbial fig leaf.  I was horrified.  Horrified at what she was communicating – already – without awareness.

I shook my head, dismayed, “Daniela, let’s get you into your jammies and off to bed.”  As I walked into her room, I told her how I feel about the advertisement she was mimicking.  I told her about women’s strength and real “girl power.”  And then I helped her change, and read her several pages of Stargirl until she drifted off to sleep.

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