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Asked by Greta

What is the best way to structure and write the unseen poetry section in AQA for the top marks?

The best way to structure and write the unseen poetry section in AQA for the best marks is to first think about the basics- language, form and structure. This will then set the basis for your ideas and get your mind set in the exam about what to add on. First of all, write down how many stanzas are in the poem, how many lines there are, what type of structure it has to relate to the poem. For example, if the poem is a dramatic monologue of a woman having a conversation with her friends about something that’s gone wrong in her household and is structured quite messily, you can link this to her chaotic thoughts and her stress- how easy! The language used is such a good way to get marks from a poem you’ve never seen before. You can guess the year about the poem was made based on how modern the language used is, and the type of words used give off so many marks. Look for the different emotions within the text, look for metaphors and similes and how this may link to the title and any other kind of ideas you’ve studied for the poems you have learnt in your anthology to get your ideas flowing. Other things such as picking out meanings from the title and seeing if you recognise the poet from another poem they’ve written can also give you extra marks. The main thing is- practice makes perfect and try doing lots of exam-type questions on the subject, read a lot of mark schemes and examiner comments to see what the examiner wants! I hope this helped!

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Sharon’s answer was amazing!

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Always read the questions before reading the poems. There’s always an idea about the content of the poem there. As you are reading, consider the following questions: 1. What is the poem about? 2. In what ways is the title significant? 3. Which three lines seem to be particularly important? 4. Which three individual words stand out? 5. What poetic devices can you identify? 6. How do they help to shape meaning? 7. How is the poem structured (i.e. organised)? 8. Is the poem written in an identifiable form? Single Poem Essay (24 marks) 1. In a continuous section of your essay use the following prompt questions (in your mind) to help you think about what to cover – 2. Write an overview statement about what you think the poem is suggesting (remembering not to write it in the first person – think about it as a critical analysis task) 3. What is the meaning in the poem? 4. What quotation supports this? What is the language/structure technique used to engage the reader? 5. What is the effect of the quotation and the technique? (using a triplet in my analysis here is good) 6. What is the meaning of the quotation I have selected? (remembering that I need to look at the implicit and explicit meaning) 7. Can I zoom in on the language/Look at one word in detail/identify the word class of the word I have selected/explore the connotations of the word? 8. Can I explain the effect on the reader or what the writer may have intended? 9. Have I linked to the question? 10. Can I move onto my next quotation(an effective way to do this is a connective) 11. Repeat this analysis as many times as I can in the time limit (remembering that I don’t have to do every step for every quotation) 12. Complete a conclusion – a brief summary of what you think the poem is about and a link to the question again 13. Make sure I have covered a couple of quotation from the top, middle and bottom of the poem. Comparison Essay - (8marks) 1. Start with the 2nd poem (because you should have already covered poem 1 in detail) 2. Give a brief overview of meaning and how poem 2 links to poem 1 3. Explore and analyse using the same steps as point 7 from the single poem essay, however this time: 4. Ensure you write about poem 2 in detail 5. Use comparison connectives 6. Compare similarities and differences in poem 2 to poem 1 7. Try to avoid using the same points as you used in the single poem essay (but if you have to – do use them nonetheless) 8. Write a brief conclusion which addresses how the poems are similar or different and refer to the question. (Total 32 marks) Sentence Starters: 1. The poet suggests… 2. This helps to clarify… 3. The primary connotation of… 4. The metaphor/ ‘language use’ emphasises… 5. The poet personifies… 6. The form of the poem reflects…. 7. By comparison… 8. Contrastingly, in the…

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