SMASH LANG LIT: Learn the skills to excel at IB Lang Lit!
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Topic Sentence Starter

smash paper 1!


One of the most important words in the IB Lang Lit criteria is coherence. Look at Criterion C in the Paper 1 exam criteria, and Criterion D in the Paper 2 criteria. Both refer to “structure”, “coherence” and “development”. Basically, in order to score high marks you have to link paragraphs together, make sure your response makes sense and show the examiner where your ideas are going…

Ask yourself: “Where is my Paper 1 response going?”

Topic sentence starters can help you do all this. What’s more, they are pretty easy to structure. I always tell my students to pay these sentences a lot of attention, as they are your “signposts” in a response, telling the examiner where your analysis is heading. Imagine you are giving someone directions – you want to send them in the right direction, right? Well, topic sentence starters are your way to make sure your response heads in the right direction.

A quality topic sentence starter should do four things:

  • should link to the previous paragraph (coherence!)
  • should tell the examiner what is going to be explored in the following paragraph -without saying literally, “in this paragraph I am going to explore…” (organisation!)
  • should propose an argument/angle – kind of like a mini-thesis statement (understanding of the text and response to the question)
  • should use the language of the question 

Check out the SMASHLangLit Topic Sentence Starter FORMULA download BELOW, and ensure that you are linking your paragraphs and creating coherence throughout your Paper 1 and Paper 2 responses. There are some key phrases in there which can definitely be used to make your TSS effective


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