How to effectively revise English lit poetry? Watch

mildredofthetaco
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We started poetry in September and I’m just really struggling to figure out how I’m actually meant to learn the poems lol
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BrandonS15
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Tolgarda may have some advice for english lit poetry.
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keatsian
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Is this for GCSE or A-Level? And will you have the poems with you in your exam?
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Tolgarda
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If this is for GCSE, I can probably help. Please confirm this.

Thanks for the tag, BrandonS15.
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by keatsian)
Is this for GCSE or A-Level? And will you have the poems with you in your exam?
A-Level unseen poetry. Advice on essay structuring, context and revision tips would be appreciated, hon.
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keatsian
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
A-Level unseen poetry. Advice on essay structuring, context and revision tips would be appreciated, hon.
Revision for unseen is difficult and mostly revolves around practising doing in-depth analysis in a short period of time. One of the things you could do to help this is every other day just find a poem that you've never read before (you could probably use one of the poem-a-days from poets.org: https://poets.org/poem-a-day) and just see how much analysis you can pull out of it in around 15 minutes. This should help you get used to analysing unseen material.

In order to analyse its also important to have a good awareness of literary techniques so that you can easily identify these methods and comment on why they are significant. It's probably helpful to run through lists of literary techniques and their definitions like this one from LitCharts (https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms) as well as typical poetic structures (https://poets.org/glossary). Don't worry about learning all of the poetic forms, rather focus on understanding the elegy, the ode, the sonnet and the ballad.

Context is difficult for unseen and there is only so much you can do. It is helpful to go over the most significant periods in English Literature, focusing on what techniques and themes preoccupied this period as well as picking out significant authors at the time (https://www.thoughtco.com/british-li...periods-739034). This book by Poplawski (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books...E97164739F4127) is particularly useful for literary contexts, so if you can find it I would definitely recommend it, but if you cannot there is still a wealth of information online.

Structure tends to depend on the question you are asked. I do AQA English Literature, where the we are asked to compare two unseen poems. The question starts with a statement saying something like 'Poem A presents love as straightforward and simple, whereas Poem B presents the complexity of conflicting emotions. I tend to structure my responses in this in four paragraphs (as well as an introduction and conclusion). In my first paragraph I argue that yes, Poem A is a simple poem and then I argue in the second one that on the contrary it could be argued that Poem A does present the complexity of love. I do the same thing with Poem B (yes, it is complex and no, it is simple) and try to ensure I am comparing the two poems throughout these paragraphs.

I hope this helps!
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by keatsian)
Revision for unseen is difficult and mostly revolves around practising doing in-depth analysis in a short period of time. One of the things you could do to help this is every other day just find a poem that you've never read before (you could probably use one of the poem-a-days from poets.org: https://poets.org/poem-a-day) and just see how much analysis you can pull out of it in around 15 minutes. This should help you get used to analysing unseen material.

In order to analyse its also important to have a good awareness of literary techniques so that you can easily identify these methods and comment on why they are significant. It's probably helpful to run through lists of literary techniques and their definitions like this one from LitCharts (https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms) as well as typical poetic structures (https://poets.org/glossary). Don't worry about learning all of the poetic forms, rather focus on understanding the elegy, the ode, the sonnet and the ballad.

Context is difficult for unseen and there is only so much you can do. It is helpful to go over the most significant periods in English Literature, focusing on what techniques and themes preoccupied this period as well as picking out significant authors at the time (https://www.thoughtco.com/british-li...periods-739034). This book by Poplawski (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books...E97164739F4127) is particularly useful for literary contexts, so if you can find it I would definitely recommend it, but if you cannot there is still a wealth of information online.

Structure tends to depend on the question you are asked. I do AQA English Literature, where the we are asked to compare two unseen poems. The question starts with a statement saying something like 'Poem A presents love as straightforward and simple, whereas Poem B presents the complexity of conflicting emotions. I tend to structure my responses in this in four paragraphs (as well as an introduction and conclusion). In my first paragraph I argue that yes, Poem A is a simple poem and then I argue in the second one that on the contrary it could be argued that Poem A does present the complexity of love. I do the same thing with Poem B (yes, it is complex and no, it is simple) and try to ensure I am comparing the two poems throughout these paragraphs.

I hope this helps!
Thank you, that is really helpful. I was also wondering how you would structure/what you would involve in the introduction for unseen poetry? I'm really stuck on this because my introductions are usually very generalised and I want to be able to make an overarching point or have an introduction which may allow me to pick up marks.

I too, do AQA English Lit & I'm doing pathway A which is Love Through The Ages, so your example is quite fitting to my specification, having said that. Thanks again. x
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by keatsian)
Revision for unseen is difficult and mostly revolves around practising doing in-depth analysis in a short period of time. One of the things you could do to help this is every other day just find a poem that you've never read before (you could probably use one of the poem-a-days from poets.org: https://poets.org/poem-a-day) and just see how much analysis you can pull out of it in around 15 minutes. This should help you get used to analysing unseen material.

In order to analyse its also important to have a good awareness of literary techniques so that you can easily identify these methods and comment on why they are significant. It's probably helpful to run through lists of literary techniques and their definitions like this one from LitCharts (https://www.litcharts.com/literary-devices-and-terms) as well as typical poetic structures (https://poets.org/glossary). Don't worry about learning all of the poetic forms, rather focus on understanding the elegy, the ode, the sonnet and the ballad.

Context is difficult for unseen and there is only so much you can do. It is helpful to go over the most significant periods in English Literature, focusing on what techniques and themes preoccupied this period as well as picking out significant authors at the time (https://www.thoughtco.com/british-li...periods-739034). This book by Poplawski (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books...E97164739F4127) is particularly useful for literary contexts, so if you can find it I would definitely recommend it, but if you cannot there is still a wealth of information online.

Structure tends to depend on the question you are asked. I do AQA English Literature, where the we are asked to compare two unseen poems. The question starts with a statement saying something like 'Poem A presents love as straightforward and simple, whereas Poem B presents the complexity of conflicting emotions. I tend to structure my responses in this in four paragraphs (as well as an introduction and conclusion). In my first paragraph I argue that yes, Poem A is a simple poem and then I argue in the second one that on the contrary it could be argued that Poem A does present the complexity of love. I do the same thing with Poem B (yes, it is complex and no, it is simple) and try to ensure I am comparing the two poems throughout these paragraphs.

I hope this helps!
Bloody hell. Someone knows their **** lol. I do OCR and we don't actually look at any unseen poetry, but this advice looks as sound as it gets.
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mildredofthetaco
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(Original post by keatsian)
Is this for GCSE or A-Level? And will you have the poems with you in your exam?
It’s for GCSE, I will have one poem in the exam and I will need to know the others in order to compare to one other poem
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mildredofthetaco
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
If this is for GCSE, I can probably help. Please confirm this.

Thanks for the tag, BrandonS15.
It’s for gcse
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keatsian
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
Thank you, that is really helpful. I was also wondering how you would structure/what you would involve in the introduction for unseen poetry? I'm really stuck on this because my introductions are usually very generalised and I want to be able to make an overarching point or have an introduction which may allow me to pick up marks.

I too, do AQA English Lit & I'm doing pathway A which is Love Through The Ages, so your example is quite fitting to my specification, having said that. Thanks again. x
We do the same specification! With my introductions I kind of set up the overarching theme like 'Poem A and B both explore responses to the loss of love' and then discuss their differences e.g. 'however, they diverge in their treatment of this scene. Poem A can be seen as a showing a straightforward response because of its conventional attitudes to the loss of love, whereas Poem B presents a range of conflicting emotions'. This helps me set up the argument for the rest of the essay. I mainly use the introduction to set up comparisons and context but this is definitely the part of my essays I need to work on more.
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keatsian
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(Original post by mildredofthetaco)
It’s for GCSE, I will have one poem in the exam and I will need to know the others in order to compare to one other poem
For my GCSEs we were given a similar question where we were given one poem and asked to compare it to any other from my anthology. I would revise by finding which poems matched up best with the others in terms of theme (my anthology did not have an overarching theme like 'war and conflict'). I would then find similarities and differences between the two so that I could construct an argument out of that. For example, I matched 'Remember' by Rossetti with 'Do Not Go Gentle' by Thomas because they both deal with death, but while one accepts death the other urges people to resist it. I then looked at the techniques that demonstrate this and show why this is e.g. 'Remember' is from the viewpoint of someone dying whereas 'Do Not Go Gentle' shows someone dealing with the death of a loved one.

This meant that I could focus my arguments and didn't have to learn the poems off by heart because I just picked out the parts of the poems that would serve my essay best. Sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense, just let me know if there's anything you'd like me to clarify. Also, what exam board do you do?
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by mildredofthetaco)
It’s for gcse
I see. My advice is for all boards barring Eduqas because they assess poetry a little differently to the other three awarding bodies.

If you have a cluster of fifteen poems, I'd find three of four central themes within the cluster (e.g. war, anger and family in Edexcel's power and conflict cluster). Once you have found these key themes, look at the poems that share them and make AO2 comparisons between them (i.e. compare their language, form and structure). No complex literary devices are required, just deep analysis. You should also learn the context for the poems you have selected, and learn it well. Ther are only so many themes they can ask you to comment on. This should narrow it down to a worthwhile task of only learning to analyse around six poems from the cluster.

As for unseen poetry, you just have to practice really.

I got full marks for my poetry and I fully recommend these revision techniques.
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by keatsian)
We do the same specification! With my introductions I kind of set up the overarching theme like 'Poem A and B both explore responses to the loss of love' and then discuss their differences e.g. 'however, they diverge in their treatment of this scene. Poem A can be seen as a showing a straightforward response because of its conventional attitudes to the loss of love, whereas Poem B presents a range of conflicting emotions'. This helps me set up the argument for the rest of the essay. I mainly use the introduction to set up comparisons and context but this is definitely the part of my essays I need to work on more.
Do you have any general tips you could give for revision?

I'm doing Othello and The Great Gatsby for my paper 1 and I've currently made some act/character summaries and I've made flashcards for quotes. I'm also planning to learn context/critics. How would you personally recommend revising?
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mildredofthetaco
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
I see. My advice is for all boards barring Eduqas because they assess poetry a little differently to the other three awarding bodies.

If you have a cluster of fifteen poems, I'd find three of four central themes within the cluster (e.g. war, anger and family in Edexcel's power and conflict cluster). Once you have found these key themes, look at the poems that share them and make AO2 comparisons between them (i.e. compare their language, form and structure). No complex literary devices are required, just deep analysis. You should also learn the context for the poems you have selected, and learn it well. Ther are only so many themes they can ask you to comment on. This should narrow it down to a worthwhile task of only learning to analyse around six poems from the cluster.

As for unseen poetry, you just have to practice really.

I got full marks for my poetry and I fully recommend these revision techniques.
I’m just really struggling to remember quotes, that’s my main issue. They’re just not going in and I don’t know how to make them lol
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barnetlad
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For some people listening to the poem being read may help. So if this is the case see if there are any readings online you can listen to.
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mildredofthetaco
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(Original post by barnetlad)
For some people listening to the poem being read may help. So if this is the case see if there are any readings online you can listen to.
Thanks, I’ll try this out! I think my schools English department is working on uploading the poems to our school website
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by mildredofthetaco)
I’m just really struggling to remember quotes, that’s my main issue. They’re just not going in and I don’t know how to make them lol
Repeat them to yourself or write them down twenty times. You could also look for quotes that interest you a lot because they are easier to remember.
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