AQA English Literature GCSE Unseen Poetry Revision Guide Watch

Lemur14
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AQA GCSE Unseen Poetry Revision Guide

Hello, and welcome to our guide! In this guide we will be giving you a rough guide on how to answer the unseen poetry questions in your English Literature exam, as well as a variety of practice questions you can use and a basic analysis of each poem. This is not a completely definitive guide, so be sure to use other resources including anything your teacher has given you, as they are the most experienced teachers after all!
If you came here looking for something in particular then here is our contents which you can use to find what you were looking for

Contents
The Exam
Practice Questions
How/What to Analyse
24 Mark Analysis
8 Mark Comparison
Other Revision Resources
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Lemur14
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The Exam

In 2018, the AQA English Literature Poetry and Prose exam is on Friday 25th May in the morning. There will be 2 hours and 15 minutes for this exam, in which you must write a 34 marker (including 4 SPaG marks) on your Modern Text, a 30 marker for your anthology poetry and finally a 24 and an 8 marker for the unseen poetry.
For the unseen poetry there will be two questions; a long analysis question and a short comparison question. For example these could be the questions:
Part a) In ‘To a Daughter Leaving Home’, how does the poet present the speaker’s feelings about her daughter? (24 marks)
Part b) In both ‘Poem for My Sister’ and ‘To a Daughter Leaving Home’ the speakers describe feelings about watching someone they love grow up. What are the similarities and/or differences between the ways the poets present those feelings? (8 marks)
To a Daughter Leaving Home
When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

Linda Pastan

Poem for my sister
My little sister likes to try my shoes,
to strut in them,
admire her spindle-thin twelve-year-old legs
in this season’s styles.
She says they fit her perfectly,
but wobbles
on their high heels, they’re
hard to balance.

I like to watch my little sister playing hopscotch,
admire the neat hops-and-skips of her,
their quick peck,
never-missing their mark, not
over-stepping the line.
She is competent at peever.

I try to warn my little sister
about unsuitable shoes,
point out my own distorted feet, the callouses,
odd patches of hard skin.
I should not like to see her
in my shoes.
I wish she could stay sure footed,
sensibly shod.

Liz Lochhead
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Lemur14
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Practice Questions

Here are some questions/poems you can use to practice your unseen poetry skills Please note these questions are not from the exam board, but have instead been made up of poems from the old specification anthologies and adapted questions.
Set 1:
a) How does the poet present the ways children are affected by war in "Children in Wartime"? (24 marks)
Children in Wartime
Sirens ripped open
the warm silk of sleep;
we ricocheted to the shelter
moated by streets
that ran with darkness.
People said it was a storm,
but flak
had not the right sound
for rain;
thunder left such huge craters
of silence,
we knew this was no giant
playing bowls.
And later,
when I saw the jaw of glass,
where once had hung
my window spun with stars;
it seemed the sky
lay broken on my floor.

Isobel Thrilling


b) Compare the different perspectives of war in "Children in Wartime to "A Irishman Foresees His Death" (8 marks)
A Irishman Foresees His Death
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

W B Yeats


Set 2:
a) How does the poet present their attitude towards the way we live and work in the modern world to the reader in "How to Leave the World that Worships Should"? (24 marks)
How to Leave the World that Worships Should
Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves.
Let junkmail build its castles in the hush
of other people’s halls. Let deadlines burst
and flash like glorious fireworks somewhere else.
As hours go softly by, let others curse
the roads where distant drivers queue like sheep.
Let e-mails fly like panicked, tiny birds.
Let phones, unanswered, ring themselves to sleep.

Above, the sky unrolls its telegram,
immense and wordless, simply understood:
you’ve made your mark like birdtracks in the sand -
now make the air in your lungs your livelihood.
See how each wave arrives at last to heave
itself upon the beach and vanish. Breathe.

Ros Barber


b) Compare the poet's attitudes towards modern technology in "How to Leave the World that Worships Should" and "Dusting the phone" (8 marks)
Dusting the Phone
I am spending my time imagining the worst that could happen.
I know this is not a good idea, and that being in love, I could be
spending my time going over the best that has been happening.

The phone rings heralding some disaster. Sirens.
Or it doesn’t ring which also means disaster. Sirens.
In which case, who would ring me to tell? Nobody knows.

The future is a long gloved hand. An empty cup.
A marriage. A full house. One night per week
in stranger’s white sheets. Forget tomorrow,

You say, don’t mention love. I try. It doesn’t work.
I assault the postman for a letter. I look for flowers.
I go over and over our times together, re-read them.

This very second I am waiting on the phone.
Silver service. I polish it. I dress for it.
I’ll give it extra in return for your call.

Infuriatingly, it sends me hoaxes, wrong numbers;
or worse, calls from boring people. Your voice
disappears into my lonely cotton sheets.

I am trapped in it. I can’t move. I want you.
All the time. This is awful – only a photo.
Come on, damn you, ring me. Or else. What?
I don’t know what.

Jackie Kay


Set 3:
a) How does the poet present the woman's feelings about loneliness in "In Oak Terrace"? (24 marks)
In Oak Terrace
Old and alone, she sits at nights,
Nodding before the television.
The house is quiet now. She knits,
rises to put the kettle on,

watches a cowboy’s killing, reads
the local Births and Deaths, and falls
asleep at ‘Growing stock-piles of war-heads’.
A world that threatens worse ills

fades. She dreams of life spent
in the one house: suffers again
poverty, sickness, abandonment,
a child’s death, a brother’s brain

melting to madness. Seventy years
of common trouble; the kettle sings.
At midnight she says her silly prayers,
And takes her teeth out, and collects her night-things.

Tony Connor


b) Compare how the poet presents the women's different feelings about life in "In Oak Terrace" and "Names" (8 marks)
Names
She was Eliza for a few weeks
when she was a baby –
Eliza Lily. Soon it changed to Lil.

Later she was Miss Steward in the baker’s shop
And then ‘my love’, ‘my darling’, Mother.

Widowed at thirty, she went back to work
As Mrs Hand. Her daughter grew up,
Married and gave birth.

Now she was Nanna. ‘Everybody
Calls me Nanna,’ she would say to visitors.
And so they did – friends, tradesmen, the doctor.

In the geriatric ward
They used the patients’ Christian names.
‘Lil,’ we said, ‘or Nanna,’
But it wasn’t in her file
And for those last bewildered weeks
She was Eliza once again.

Wendy Cope
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Lemur14
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How/What to Analyse
For unseen poetry, the assessment objects are similar to that of the seen poetry with two key differences. Firstly there are no marks for context, since you cannot be expected to know the context of an unseen poem, and secondly, there are no marks for tone. As a result, many teachers use acryomns such as MISL or SLIM to help you remember what to analyse. Ideally, you should include a paragraph on each of these for both the 8 marker and the 24 marker. More details on exactly how you should include this are within the specific posts for these questions below

M-meaning. You must analyse the overall meaning of each poem, use quotes to evidence the meaning and include the overall affect the poem has on the reader.
I-[/i]imagery. From the poem you must pick out key pieces of imagery and analyse their effects. Identify the technique within your analysis, and also give multiple interpretations of it where possible.
S-structure. Structure is a key piece of of the poem. Within this comes rhyme, rhythm and form, which can all be analysed for their affect.
L-language. Language goes along with imagery. It is important to uniquely analyse this to obtain top marks. Again, subject terminology should be used, and multiple interpretations are vital.

It is important at this point for me to mention that you should analyse the poems and plan your answer to the question before attempting to write a response. When analysing the poem then do the following things:
  • Read the poem once through without annotating it at all
  • Read the title, and write down any significant analysis for that relevant to the question
  • Read the question again so you know what you are looking out for when analysing.
  • Go through the poem and identify any techniques used (metaphor, simile, caesura etc.)
  • Work out which lines are most relevant to the question. Take these and write the affect they have on the reader.
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24 Mark Analysis

The 45 minutes that you should be spending on unseen poetry (approximately) has to be split between this 24 mark question, and the smaller 8 mark comparison. Roughly, you would be advised to spend around 5 minutes planning this question, and 30 minutes writing. This is the only poetry question which is not a comparison between two poems, and hence you would expect for this question your analysis to be more in depth as you do not have to include comparisons. The 5 minutes planning will be vital so you can analyse the poem to produce the best points possible to form a cohesive argument.
As mentioned above, you will want to include analysis for the 4 strands of MISL/SLIM to obtain the highest marks possible. The strongest responses, will have a common point throughout, as well as the natural subpoints which will be formed during the writing of the essay. This goes to follow that the structure will be something along the lines of:
  • Brief introduction, including overarching point
  • Paragraph about overall meaning of the poem
  • Paragraph about imagery within the poem
  • Paragraph about the structure and form of the poem
  • Paragraph about the language used within the poem
  • Concluding statement bringing all the points together, back to the overarching point and the question

While it is best not to use the same structure for each paragraph, as it risks becoming too rigid and systematic, it is important to include certain key items in each paragraph, for example:
  • The poetic technique(s) used in the quote you have chosen
  • The affect on the reader the quote has
  • Link back to the question
  • Use multiple layers of interpretation and word level analysis on the quote
  • Justify how your analysis of the quote proves your point(s)

You do not have to write every paragraph in this structure (in fact, I would advise that you don't!), however these key points should be included if at all possible.
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8 Mark Comparison
The 8 mark comparison question should be written in around 10 minutes. Usually, you will answer it last as it contributes the least number of marks to your paper. Exactly what you should analyse has been detailed above. For this question, you should write a very quick and concise plan, and then go straight into the writing as there is a lot to fit in in 10 minutes. As with the seen poetry, you must maintain a comparitive tone throughout, and use multiple interpretations and the other methods you have learnt for poetry analysis. In particular with this question, you will want to write the 4 paragraphs detailed above, or at least 3 if you are running out of time. Each paragraph should be around about 6-8 sentences, for example roughly this structure:
  • Overall comparison point, relevant to question
  • Quote from poem one, name poetic technique and give overall meaning of quote
  • Analyse quote in more detail, for example multiple layers of interpretation, word level analysis or other techniques
  • Give the affect of the quote on the reader and link back to the question
  • Comparitive linking word/phrase followed by quote for poem 2, named poetic technique and overall meaning given
  • Analyse quote in more detail, for example multiple layers of interpretation, word level analysis or other techniques
  • Give the affect of the quote on the reader
  • Conclusion of paragraph, comparitive tone and linking back to question


This structure is by no means definitive (and ideally should not be exactly stuck to for every paragraph for a high level response), but hopefully gives you an idea of the key points which should be included.
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Lemur14
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Other Sources

MrBruff (youtuber)
Elite Kids
BBC bitesize
(This was aimed at the old spec WJEC course, but is mostly relevant to the 8 mark question here)
irevise
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Lemur14
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:bump:

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Luckystars500
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This is absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much!! A perfect way of quickly summing up the points to the questions. This has REALLY helped. Honestly. Thank you so much!! Good luck to anyone taking their exams tomorrow!
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Lemur14
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(Original post by Luckystars500)
This is absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much!! A perfect way of quickly summing up the points to the questions. This has REALLY helped. Honestly. Thank you so much!! Good luck to anyone taking their exams tomorrow!
Thank you You're welcome Good luck tomorrow!

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garchas
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(Original post by Lemur14)



AQA GCSE Unseen Poetry Revision Guide

Hello, and welcome to our guide! In this guide we will be giving you a rough guide on how to answer the unseen poetry questions in your English Literature exam, as well as a variety of practice questions you can use and a basic analysis of each poem. This is not a completely definitive guide, so be sure to use other resources including anything your teacher has given you, as they are the most experienced teachers after all!
If you came here looking for something in particular then here is our contents which you can use to find what you were looking for

Contents
The Exam
Practice Questions
How/What to Analyse
24 Mark Analysis
8 Mark Comparison
Other Revision Resources

what about for Edexcel unseen poetry??
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Lemur14
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(Original post by garchas)
what about for Edexcel unseen poetry??
I don't know much about Edexcel poetry unfortunately Generally the information will be similar, but the exact details will most likely be different for Edexcel

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(Original post by Lemur14)


8 Mark Comparison

The 8 mark comparison question should be written in around 10 minutes. Usually, you will answer it last as it contributes the least number of marks to your paper. Exactly what you should analyse has been detailed above. For this question, you should write a very quick and concise plan, and then go straight into the writing as there is a lot to fit in in 10 minutes. As with the seen poetry, you must maintain a comparitive tone throughout, and use multiple interpretations and the other methods you have learnt for poetry analysis. In particular with this question, you will want to write the 4 paragraphs detailed above, or at least 3 if you are running out of time. Each paragraph should be around about 6-8 sentences, for example roughly this structure:
  • Overall comparison point, relevant to question
  • Quote from poem one, name poetic technique and give overall meaning of quote
  • Analyse quote in more detail, for example multiple layers of interpretation, word level analysis or other techniques
  • Give the affect of the quote on the reader and link back to the question
  • Comparitive linking word/phrase followed by quote for poem 2, named poetic technique and overall meaning given
  • Analyse quote in more detail, for example multiple layers of interpretation, word level analysis or other techniques
  • Give the affect of the quote on the reader
  • Conclusion of paragraph, comparitive tone and linking back to question


This structure is by no means definitive (and ideally should not be exactly stuck to for every paragraph for a high level response), but hopefully gives you an idea of the key points which should be included.
4 paragraphs for 8 marks??
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garchas
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no worries thanks
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Lemur14
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(Original post by dipper_19)
4 paragraphs for 8 marks??
I'm only going by what my teacher said and got me an 8 last year. It's actually surprisingly possible in the 10/15 minutes you should spend on it


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Lemur14
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:bump:
Good luck everyone for tomorrow!
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Elizabethh A
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(Original post by Lemur14)


24 Mark Analysis

The 45 minutes that you should be spending on unseen poetry (approximately) has to be split between this 24 mark question, and the smaller 8 mark comparison. Roughly, you would be advised to spend around 5 minutes planning this question, and 30 minutes writing. This is the only poetry question which is not a comparison between two poems, and hence you would expect for this question your analysis to be more in depth as you do not have to include comparisons. The 5 minutes planning will be vital so you can analyse the poem to produce the best points possible to form a cohesive argument.
As mentioned above, you will want to include analysis for the 4 strands of MISL/SLIM to obtain the highest marks possible. The strongest responses, will have a common point throughout, as well as the natural subpoints which will be formed during the writing of the essay. This goes to follow that the structure will be something along the lines of:
  • Brief introduction, including overarching point
  • Paragraph about overall meaning of the poem
  • Paragraph about imagery within the poem
  • Paragraph about the structure and form of the poem
  • Paragraph about the language used within the poem
  • Concluding statement bringing all the points together, back to the overarching point and the question

While it is best not to use the same structure for each paragraph, as it risks becoming too rigid and systematic, it is important to include certain key items in each paragraph, for example:
  • The poetic technique(s) used in the quote you have chosen
  • The affect on the reader the quote has
  • Link back to the question
  • Use multiple layers of interpretation and word level analysis on the quote
  • Justify how your analysis of the quote proves your point(s)

You do not have to write every paragraph in this structure (in fact, I would advise that you don't!), however these key points should be included if at all possible.
I was really running out of time so I could only write 2 paragraphs for the 24 marker and about 1 for the 8 do you think it'll badly effect my grade?
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Lemur14
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(Original post by Elizabethh A)
I was really running out of time so I could only write 2 paragraphs for the 24 marker and about 1 for the 8 do you think it'll badly effect my grade?
I honestly couldn't tell you, sorry! It really depends on the content of those paragraphs, but remember it's only 20% of the whole subject so you can still score really highly overall so don't worry about it too much
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