MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

305 views

What do I do in an unseen poetry exam?

Read the poem to yourself twice in your head. The first time, try and get the sense of the narrative of the poem (the story it's telling). You can note down literary techniques (things like onomatopoeia or rhyme) that jump out at you, but don't go looking for them. 

Your second reading is when you should look for literary techniques.

Some easy things to look for:

- Pay attention to the sounds of the poem. Sounds can give the effect of rhyme, sibilance (hissing "s" sounds, like in the word "sussurus"), and consonance (when things have the same consonants, like in the words "tittle-tattle"). This shows the examiner that you really understand how poetic language works.

- Listen for the meter (rhythm) of the poem. You might have heard of iambic pentameter (when the rhythm of syllables goes unstressed-stressed five times per line, or, da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH) -- that could be the meter of the poem, or it might be something else like iambic trimeter (da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH) or even trochaic pentameter (DA-dah DA-dah DA-dah DA-dah DA-dah). 

- A good way to analyse any text is to look at who's talking and how. Is the poem in first, second, or third person? Is it in the imperative voice (telling someone what to do)? How about the declarative (talking about what exists; making a statement), or the interrogative (asking a question, like I am now)? This shows that you have a good knowledge of linguistic techniques.

- One last thing I'll give you is a way to look at lexis (word choice). Simply put, are the words boo-words or hurrah-words? What are the connotations? Words can mean the same thing whilst having very different connotations -- for example, "stench" is a boo-word and "fragrance" is a hurrah-word, even though they both mean "smell".

Once you have your list of things the poem is doing (using the tools I just gave you and anything else you know), connect that to the narrative; so, say what the author is trying to make the poem do or make the reader feel, and then say how they do this using literary techniques.

Those are your points! Organise them into a logical order and plan some PEEL paragraphs with them, and then all you need to do is write the essay!

Isabel B. A Level English Literature tutor, GCSE English Literature t...

7 months ago

Answered by Isabel, a GCSE English Literature tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

202 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Anna L.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Psychology+ 5 more

English Literature
Psychology
History
Extended Project Qualification
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“Who am I? I am a first year student studying English Literature at Durham University. I have always been intrigued by the power of communication and inspired by the ways in which the close analysis of a text can redesign our opinion o...”

£22 /hr

Alex F.

Degree: History (Bachelors) - Oxford, Christ Church University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Sociology+ 2 more

English Literature
Sociology
History
.HAT.

“I am in my final year of studying History at Oxford University and enjoy teaching History and other relatable subjects such as English, Politics and Sociology. Having previous tutoring experience I am a firm believer in interctive lea...”

George B. IB French tutor, GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, 1...
£18 /hr

George B.

Degree: History and French (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Politics+ 6 more

English Literature
Politics
History
Government and Politics
French
English Language
.MLAT (Modern Languages)
-Personal Statements-

“French and History student at Exeter offering a range of subjects. I'd love to hear from you!”

About the author

£18 /hr

Isabel B.

Degree: English Literature and Philosophy (Bachelors) - Birmingham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, English Language

English Literature
English Language

“Who are you, Isabel? Hi! I'm a first-year student at Birmingham University, and I'm doing Philosophy and English Literature. Why are you a good tutor? I took a mix of arts and sciences subjects right through to A levels: I'm comfort...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other GCSE English Literature questions

How does writing reflect the audiences and purposes for which it was intended ?

What should I include in an English Literature poetry analysis?

I'm struggling to understand the language Shakespeare uses. How can I improve my understanding?

How should I structure my paragraphs?

View GCSE English Literature tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok