English appplicants: Analysing poetry/ prose for interview Watch

yapster
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This is the bit that I'm most nervous about, probably because this will count for the most. Can anyone give any tips or advice for analysing poetry/prose in the interview? I reall don't know what to do to prepare apart from reading books and poems etc. but I have the greatest fear that I won't even understand the piece they give me and I'll look like a bumbling idiot Thanks for any help/ comforting words in advance!
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CavemanCaveman
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Ok so I didn't do English...but I had to read a law thing and analyse that. Different skills I know; but my point is this - it wasn't as hard as you might think. If I'd lingered on thinking about it too much before then I might have panicked and not done so well. Just accept that you're good at English and you will have something to say - try not to panic!

Hopefully someone with more constructive advice shall pop along soon :p:
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Lidka
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(Original post by yapster)
This is the bit that I'm most nervous about, probably because this will count for the most. Can anyone give any tips or advice for analysing poetry/prose in the interview? I reall don't know what to do to prepare apart from reading books and poems etc. but I have the greatest fear that I won't even understand the piece they give me and I'll look like a bumbling idiot Thanks for any help/ comforting words in advance!
It's not about 'understanding' the piece, it's about how you deal with something unfamilar... they're looking for someone who's willing to persevere and express new ideas, not someone who takes one look at a poem and goes 'OMG I don't know this writer, therefore I can't talk about it!' So really, don't worry about grasping what the piece is about straight away, because that's not really the point of the process. The interviewers are looking to see how you absorb new ideas, and how flexible your thought process is.

The Cambridge website has videos showing mock interviews with one focusing specifically on an English applicant, so if you haven't seen it already, have a look. He is given a poem to read beforehand, and it'll give you an example of what you might expect.

Basically, they're not trying to be evil, and they won't give you something that's impossible. They just want to see how you think, and if you're the kind of person they'd like to teach! So don't worry I'm an English applicant too, so if you want to talk, feel free to PM me!
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blissy
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http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki...deas_please.21 ?Maybe?

Most important thing is to be confident. Go with your instincts and your thoughts - they might not be quite on track, but you're feeling those thigns for a reason (the author's put them there after all!)

Don't be scared, they won't expect perfection because you're unlikely to have analysed in such detail before.
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epitome
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Think (carefully) aloud. Interviewers can't do anything with silence, they can only help you along/assess you when you speak.

In preparation, maybe look at some (short) texts, and find something to say about each. You don't have to know what they're "about" (often, I don't have a clue), and you don't have to go through them line by line and narrate what's going on. Find points of interest - something unusual, something that stands out (though there isn't *always* something obvious); something you like, or which jars. Something that perhaps 'sums up' the atmosphere (or content, maybe) of the text.

Also, look at prose as well as poetry...

Just remember that you're applying for English because you *enjoy* it (or you damn well should): retain that enjoyment and enthusiasm, and don't worry about what they might *want* you to say. We all take supervisors by surprise sometimes by saying something unexpected -don't be afraid of it (though don't contrive it).
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wilbur
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(Original post by epitome)
Think (carefully) aloud. Interviewers can't do anything with silence, they can only help you along/assess you when you speak.

In preparation, maybe look at some (short) texts, and find something to say about each. You don't have to know what they're "about" (often, I don't have a clue), and you don't have to go through them line by line and narrate what's going on. Find points of interest - something unusual, something that stands out (though there isn't *always* something obvious); something you like, or which jars. Something that perhaps 'sums up' the atmosphere (or content, maybe) of the text.

Also, look at prose as well as poetry...

Just remember that you're applying for English because you *enjoy* it (or you damn well should): retain that enjoyment and enthusiasm, and don't worry about what they might *want* you to say. We all take supervisors by surprise sometimes by saying something unexpected -don't be afraid of it (though don't contrive it).
This is spot on. They aren't looking for a fully-developed analysis of the piece, they're looking to see whether you can come up with some rough conclusions, and also whether you are able to adapt those conclusions as a result of their questioning/closer reading.

Also, there is some truth in the suggestion that they are not just listening to 'what' you say, but 'how' you say it. Even if one of your ideas is patently absurd, if you express it eloquently this will still count for something. And, as Epitome says, the key is to enjoy it, as hopefully this enthusiasm will come out in what you say, and be picked up by the interviewer. Good luck
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yapster
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Thank you all for your wonderful comments They have been both helpful and comforting!
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