The Student Room Group

WJEC English Literature A Level Unseen Poetry Help

Hello! I'm currently doing WJEC A Level English Literature and our first exam is on poetry. We've only done one unseen poetry essay in class which makes me feel really underprepared because the unseen poetry essay is worth 60 marks. I got a 36/60 in the essay which I'm not super happy with especially considering I thought I included everything I needed to. I'm going to try writing another unseen poetry essay at home and send it to my teacher to mark but does anyone have any tips on how to write a good unseen poetry essay?? Thanks!
Reply 1
I do AQA so I don't know how much it differs, but some general tips would be to make sure you understand the aim/message of the poems. I think that's the hardest part of unseen poetry. Read the poems until you understand what they are saying, then it's easier to compare how they present a theme. Find points on how the messages differ, and in your analysis make sure to cover a range of poetic techniques regarding how they link to the way they present a theme. This includes the tone, metre, rhythm, form, as well as language techniques. The gender of the poet may also be significant. With structuring the essay, I would start each paragraph with a comparative topic sentence between the poems, before writing about one of the poems, then the next paragraph readdresses the comparative point and writes about the other poem.

Again, don't know how much of this applies to your exam board, but hope it helps a bit
Reply 2
Hey! I do English lit for wjec as well and I HATE unseen poetry, I also don’t do as great in it either. But something that has helped me is looking at the exemplars that they have on the wjec website of past students that have answered the unseen poetry questions from previous years. I think I came across one that had full marks before and I was really shocked about it because it just seemed so simplistically written. For example, yes they included literary terms but there was no big/complicated terminology. So I guess I’m saying that just remember we’re in exam conditions, so your answer doesn’t need to be over complicated.
Also, I’ve found that using an acronym helps me to quickly identify or come to terms with a poem: ‘TV FLIRTS’ which stands for: Themes, voice (speaker/persona), Form, Language (complex/simplistic?), imagery (similies, metaphors, juxtapositions?), Rhyme/rhythm, Tone, Sound devices (sibilance, assonance, consonance, fricative). Obviously don’t spend your time going into detail with this but it just helps you to get thinking on the poems.
Also, something that has really helped me is identifying a theme such as love, religion, nature, grief etc. and googling this theme to see what poems come up, then choose a couple and see if you can just scribble down any comparisons/contrasts between the two. The more poems you look at, the easier it becomes :smile: also what poet are you looking at for section A? My college does William Blake :smile:
Reply 3
Original post by Amyss90
Hey! I do English lit for wjec as well and I HATE unseen poetry, I also don’t do as great in it either. But something that has helped me is looking at the exemplars that they have on the wjec website of past students that have answered the unseen poetry questions from previous years. I think I came across one that had full marks before and I was really shocked about it because it just seemed so simplistically written. For example, yes they included literary terms but there was no big/complicated terminology. So I guess I’m saying that just remember we’re in exam conditions, so your answer doesn’t need to be over complicated.
Also, I’ve found that using an acronym helps me to quickly identify or come to terms with a poem: ‘TV FLIRTS’ which stands for: Themes, voice (speaker/persona), Form, Language (complex/simplistic?), imagery (similies, metaphors, juxtapositions?), Rhyme/rhythm, Tone, Sound devices (sibilance, assonance, consonance, fricative). Obviously don’t spend your time going into detail with this but it just helps you to get thinking on the poems.
Also, something that has really helped me is identifying a theme such as love, religion, nature, grief etc. and googling this theme to see what poems come up, then choose a couple and see if you can just scribble down any comparisons/contrasts between the two. The more poems you look at, the easier it becomes :smile: also what poet are you looking at for section A? My college does William Blake :smile:


Thank you so much for this!! I completely forgot exemplars were a thing lol. I'm doing William Blake too! I think my main issue with Blake essays is not including enough context which is important because it's like 30/45 marks for it so I just need to revise as much context as possible. Good luck for your exams btw! :smile:
Reply 4
Original post by yangoe
I do AQA so I don't know how much it differs, but some general tips would be to make sure you understand the aim/message of the poems. I think that's the hardest part of unseen poetry. Read the poems until you understand what they are saying, then it's easier to compare how they present a theme. Find points on how the messages differ, and in your analysis make sure to cover a range of poetic techniques regarding how they link to the way they present a theme. This includes the tone, metre, rhythm, form, as well as language techniques. The gender of the poet may also be significant. With structuring the essay, I would start each paragraph with a comparative topic sentence between the poems, before writing about one of the poems, then the next paragraph readdresses the comparative point and writes about the other poem.

Again, don't know how much of this applies to your exam board, but hope it helps a bit

Ahh thank you for the reply!! This is honestly really helpful even though you're doing a different exam board like you say. I think the main thing is definitely the message because sometimes I read a poem and think it's saying one thing then read it again and realise I was wrong lol. Your point about the comparative sentence is really helpful because I think I was losing marks on comparison so thank you! :smile:
Reply 5
Original post by meking2005
Thank you so much for this!! I completely forgot exemplars were a thing lol. I'm doing William Blake too! I think my main issue with Blake essays is not including enough context which is important because it's like 30/45 marks for it so I just need to revise as much context as possible. Good luck for your exams btw! :smile:

Thanks you too!!
Reply 6
Original post by meking2005
Hello! I'm currently doing WJEC A Level English Literature and our first exam is on poetry. We've only done one unseen poetry essay in class which makes me feel really underprepared because the unseen poetry essay is worth 60 marks. I got a 36/60 in the essay which I'm not super happy with especially considering I thought I included everything I needed to. I'm going to try writing another unseen poetry essay at home and send it to my teacher to mark but does anyone have any tips on how to write a good unseen poetry essay?? Thanks!


Hey! How did the exam go yesterday? I liked the essay question with Blake on god but wasn’t a fan of the unseen poetry :smile:
Reply 7
Original post by Amyss90
Hey! How did the exam go yesterday? I liked the essay question with Blake on god but wasn’t a fan of the unseen poetry :smile:

Hello! Yeah the Blake one was good bc he talks about God loads lol. I thought the unseen poetry one was quite good it wasn't the best but I found stuff the say. I heard a lot of people struggled on the unseen poetry one tho! :smile:

Quick Reply

Latest