Revising Unseen Poetry

The Poetry Across Time exam will take place on Thursday 22 May at 1.30pm. The exam consists of:

Section A – Conflict Poetry 

  • Choose from two questions – answer only 1.
  • Compare 2 poems.
  • 45 minutes

Section B – Unseen Poem

  • Answer the question.
  • 30 minutes.

In order to hit the assessment objectives you must:

  • AO1: Respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations.
  • AO2: Explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas, themes.
The Unseen Poem
  • It will be a poem you have probably never seen before
  • You are being tested on your ability to “read and respond” thoughtfully
  • You are thinking about what the writer is trying to say
  • Every word of the poem will count – easy to focus on title/first line/last line.

Same approach every time:

  1. What is this poem about as a whole and what ideas are being expressed? Person, place, event, situation, theme focus on title/first/last line.
  2. How does the poet use language to help get across what he/she is trying to say? Key words, Similes, metaphors, personification, repetition.
  3. How does the poet use structure to help get across what he/she is trying to say? How is it divided up? Different stages, different times (past/present), chronological.
  4. How does the poet use form to help get across what he/she is trying to say? Use of rhyme, enjambment, end-stopped lines, line lengths – regular/irregular.
  5. What is your response to the poem?It makes me think of/realise/appreciate/identify with/sympathise with.

I will produce a handout/guide for you to use for this Thursday’s lesson.

Revising for this section

We have essentially been preparing for the Unseen Poem since the start of the poetry work. The first time you looked at every one of the conflict poems it was an ‘unseen’.

  • Use your anthology – look at the other poems. Read the poem and spend 5 minutes annotating for language, structure and form.
  • There are revision guides for the Unseen Poem section of the exam – try CGP as they have a revision guide.
  • Use the internet – there are millions of poems on the internet. Read a poem and spend 5 minutes making notes on language, structure and form. Try BBC Poetry SeasonPoem HunterLove PoemsNation’s Favourite Poems.
  • Look at the past papers – AQA Past Papers
  • There are loads of videos out there:

Key questions to consider when looking at poems for there first time (courtesy of Wildern English)
  1. What does the title tell you?
  2. Who is speaking?
  3. Who is being addressed?
  4. Who/what is it about?
  5. What do you think of the person or people it is about?  What do you think the poet feels about them?
  6. Where is it taking place?
  7. When is it taking place?
  8. What happens in the poem?
  9. What does it look like on the page?
  10. How is it arranged?  Why do you think it’s arranged this way?
  11. Does it rhyme?  Can you identify a pattern?
  12. What difference does the rhyme or lack of rhyme make?
  13. Is there a regular rhythm or beat?  Can you identify it?
  14. What difference do the rhyme and rhythm make to the mood of the poem?
  15. What would you say the mood is?
  16. Is there anything interesting about the language the poet uses?
  17. Does the poet use particular literary techniques, such as alliteration, repetition or onomatopoeia?  If so, what effect do they have?
  18. Is there any interesting imagery, e.g. similes and metaphors?
  19. What does the choice of imagery tell you about the poets feelings?
  20. What is the poem really about?
  21. What is the poet’s attitude to his/her subject?
  22. Has the poet made his/her point successfully?
  23. What do you think about the subject?
  24. Does the poem remind you in any way of any other poems you have read?

Now is the time to start your revision – use this post and the post on Revising Conflict Poetry to revise for the Unit 2 Poetry Across Time exam.

Miss O

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One thought on “Revising Unseen Poetry

  1. jwpblog says:

    Reblogged this on English teaching resources and commented:
    This is a great post. It is not based on the Edexcel Certificate, so please be aware if you are one of my students, but all that is said here is of use. I have blogged and podcasted in this area, but I think it is always good to get a seocnd opinion!

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