IO moderator's notes

The following notes are based on instructions that the IB shares with moderators of the individual oral. By sharing these moderator’s notes, teachers can grade their students more effectively and students can avoid unnecessary pitfalls. These notes are not written, nor are they endorsed, by the IB.

The candidate should analyse and reference 4 elements of the task: 1) the extract from the literary work, 2)the literary work, 3) the extract from the non-lit body of work (BOW), andd 4) the rest of the non-lit BOW. If the candidate has not referred to all 4 elements, then the task is only partially fulfilled and cannot receive full marks on criteria A, B and C. For example, if 3 of the 4 elements are referred to and analysed, then the task is only ¾ fulfilled and a new ceiling of 7-8 marks (7.5) should be used for criteria A, B and C. The 9-10 band is no longer achievable for these criteria. Balance (criterion C) is arguably most impacted by this problem. 

There are ‘grey area’ text types, identified in the guide. These include (but are not limited to): biographies, memoirs, speeches, letters, diaries, pastiches, parodies and essays. The purpose of the IO is to explore a global issue from two different angles, both literary and non-literary. Candidates should identify their literary work and non-literary body of work clearly, referring to ‘the collection of poetry’ or ‘other speeches’, for example. Sometimes students refer to graphic novels and song lyrics as non-literary. This may only be a labelling error. Moderators should show flexibility and give students the benefit of the doubt. Moderators should not give the penalty of 0 for any criteria for inappropriate text choices. even if both texts are literary or both texts are non-literary. Poor text choices are self-penalising. For example, a student that uses both a Shakespeare play (literary work) and a filmed version of that play (non-lit BOW) may be too narrowly defining a global issue. Criterion B asks for analysis of authorial choices for both literary and non-literary texts. By only referring to literary features or by only referring to non-literary features, upper bands of criterion B become impossible to achieve.

Any text written by anyone on the PRL is, according to the IB’s definition, literary. However, if a student has two literary extracts, they are not automatically penalised with a 0 on any criteria. Instead moderators should show flexibility. For example, if Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talks are explored together with Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry, the oral does not technically meet the task’s requirements. Nevertheless, the oral can still achieve top marks if the student focuses on the non-literary features of the TED talks and the literary features of Duffy’s poetry. Moderators should add a comment, warning teachers from submitting this type of IO in the future.

Music scores, screenshots of a dance performance, photographs, photographs of sculpture(s), photographs of someone engaging with (street) art are examples are extracts from non-literary bodies of work (BOWs) and should be treated as such by moderators and teachers. The student’s analysis should be of the artist’s work and the extract and not of the audience captured in the extract.

Moderators use the extracts as a tool to support their marking of the IO. If an extract is missing, then the moderator can only mark what they understand from the audio recording. If the moderator’s understanding of the analysis is hindered, then the marks for criteria A-C may also be affected negatively. The outline should not be considered or even viewed if accidentally uploaded.

The IO assesses the candidate’s ability to analyse how a global issue is presented. Vulgar, taboo or inappropriate language is an authorial choice, not a student choice. Therefore students should not be penalised for referring to it. Instead, students should be rewarded for referencing the stimulus texts (criterion A) and analysing these authorial choices (criterion B). It is not the moderator’s job to determine whether or not the author’s choice of words is appropriate.   

There is no penalty for extracts that exceed 40 lines. Similarly, there is no defined length for extracts from graphic novels. Long extracts or too many panels may be self-penalising, as students may not have time to address all of the aspects of the extract. It may not be a problem at all, as the candidate neatly references only the relevant aspects of the extract in relation to the global issue.

It’s recommended that students make screenshots of moving-image BOWs with the CC but it is not required. Candidates may write out what is said/heard in these scenes separately, but this is also not required. Again, if the moderator’s understanding of the extract is hindered then the marks for criteria A-C may also be hindered.

Moderators should not click on URLs of documents that are uploaded. Moderators cannot spend time looking for sites, videos or text online to support their understanding of the extract. If the extract relies on URLs, then the moderator’s understanding of the extract can be hindered and this can negatively affect the marks for criteria A-C. If the extract is a text with hyperlinks and this is one of the text’s stylistic features, such as an opinion column that references and links to news articles, students are expected to analyse this feature. Moderators are not expected to click on them.

The oral should finish (naturally) between 9:30 and 10:30. If students stop earlier than 9:30, their marks on criteria A-C will be affected negatively. An oral that is too short is self-penalising. It cannot show enough interpretation (criterion A), analysis (criterion B) or coherence (criterion C). An oral that is too long is not organised effectively and should not be awarded the top band of 9-10 on Criterion C.

Criterion C is about balance. Students should spend roughly 2:30 on each of the four elements (extract from lit work, lit work, extract from non-lit BOW and the non-lit BOW). When the candidate does not treat each of these 4 elements equally, marks for criterion C are negatively affected. Remember: marks for criterion C are only based on the student’s 10-minute presentation.

Moderators should not consider delivery. Moderators assess the student’s analysis of how a global issue is presented in two extracts from two works. Criterion D may be adversely affected if a rehearsed script prevents the moderator from understanding the student’s language and message.

The point of the discussion is to expand on previous points or give the candidate the opportunity to introduce new points. If a teacher tries to trip up or quiz the student in the discussion, this should not detract from marks already earned in the presentation. Please keep in mind that marks for criterion C are only based on the 10-minute presentation.

Moderators should not consider the teacher’s marks before marking. After the moderator has listened to and marked the candidate, the moderator may - but does not have to - read the teacher’s comments and marks. In cases where moderators feel uncertain about marks, they may read and consider the teacher’s marks and comments. Teacher’s comments about the nature of a student, task or texts should not be considered.


when marking IOs, it's important not to lose site of the purpose of the task: to encourage critical thinking. One hallmark of critical thinking is the ability to make connections. In the IO there are opportunities to connect an extract to a work, a work to another work and all texts to a common global issue.

Last modified: Tuesday, 2 August 2022, 8:24 AM