Are you an IB student worried about ‘The Individual Oral’, commonly known as the IO? In this blogpost we’ll share core information you will need to know to ace your IO. Read on…

What is the Individual Oral?

The Individual Oral or IO is an important part of the IB English A Language and Literature’s internal assessment. By internal assessment, we mean that it is marked by the teacher and moderated by the IB. In the IO, a student has to choose two texts – one literary and one non-literary text; and then prepare and present an oral response. In short, it is an oral exam. The most important part here is that the student has to connect both of the chosen texts with a common global issue.

Some important points about the IO

Exam DurationCompulsory for whomWeightage (%)Marks
15 minutes is the total time duration. 10 minutes is allotted for the student individual oral and the remaining 5 minutes is for the teacher to ask  questions)The IO is compulsory for both HL and SL students.Internal assessment contributes 20% to the final assessment of the HL course and 30% of the SL course.Total marks for IO is 40.

Let us understand the IO process

As it is an oral exam, the IO will be an interaction between the teacher and the student. At first, the student will present the topic he/she has prepared, after that the teacher will ask questions based on the student’s presentation and how the chosen topics are connected to a common global issue which will also be chosen by the student. Another important thing to note here is that the extract that the students choose should not be more than 40 lines. The grading system for the IO depends on four major criteria – 

  • Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding and interpretation
  • Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation
  • Criterion C: Focus and organisation
  • Criterion D: Language

Which works can the students choose?

Students must choose one literary work and one non-literary “body of work”. These extracts that the students choose will not be from anywhere else but from their syllabus/course.  But a thing to note here is that for the SL Students, the literary work that they choose cannot be used for their Paper 2 and for the  HL students the works that they choose cannot be used for Paper 2 (literary) or the HL Essay (literary or non-literary). 

The Global Issue

The student cannot just choose any global issue. He/she needs to follow the prompts given by IB, which are: “Examine the ways in which the global issue of your choice is presented through the content and form of two of the works that you have studied.” and The global issue chosen for consideration should be significant on a wide scale, be transnational in nature, and be an issue that has an impact felt in everyday local contexts. The issue should be clearly evidenced in the extracts or texts chosen.”

What these prompts mean in simple language is that

  • — Both texts should centre around the common global issue.
  • — The global issue should have significance on a wide/large scale.
  • — It should be transnational which means it should not be limited to one nation or city but extend across national boundaries.
  • — Last but not least Its impact should be felt in everyday local contexts i.e. it should be relevant to the current society.

Another important thing is that the global issue should belong to one of the following five themes

  1. Culture, identity and community 
  2. Beliefs, values and education
  3. Politics, power and justice 
  4. Art, creativity and the imagination 
  5. Science, technology and the environment


So, these are the important points that an IB student must be aware of before taking the IO or the Individual Oral. Along with these students must also know how to properly prepare for the IO. They need to know which extracts or global issues to choose that will help them to score better.

And for this, we are here to help you. We at Young Scholarz not only help students choose their extracts or understand IO properly, but also teach you how to use your skills to deliver your IO presentations in an effective, purposeful, nuanced manner.

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