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

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Sharon Richards

Teaching has always been my greatest passion. I have done so for 25 years.

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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