Generally speaking you can answer one 20 mark question or two 10 mark questions so we’ll deal with them separately here.

The 20mark question usually goes a little something like this:

  • Write a personal response to this poem, highlighting the impact it makes on you.
  • Describe the impact this poem makes on you as a reader.

As with studied poetry you are expected to include sentences which use the pronoun I.

  1. Talk about how the poems made you feel.
  2. Identify what they taught you, how they made you look at an issue(s) in a new way.
  3. Mention how these themes are relevant to your life.
  4. Discuss what you enjoyed in the poet’s style of writing

Remember though, no matter what the question, you are expected to quickly figure out the message/theme of the poem, identify some techniques, and comment on the feelings created in the poem and in you. DO NOT go off on a long rambling tangent about how this poem reminds you of this thing that happened to you once. Mention the poem’s relevance to your life in passing but stay focused – your job is to discuss and interpret the poem and how the poem affects you emotionally/intellectually not to talk about yourself (you can do this in Paper 1 QB and essay).  

10 mark questions

Questions on the mood/feelings/atmosphere (see poetic techniques & terminology)

  • What is the mood of this poem and how is it conveyed?
  • How does this poem make you feel? Explain by detailed reference to the poem.
  • How well does the poem capture the boy’s sense of excitement and hope?
  • Choose two phrases which best capture the girl’s feelings. Give reasons for your choices.

Questions on the setting (see language of narration / descriptive writing)

  • Do you like the world that the poet describes in this poem? Give reasons for your answer.

Questions on the imagery/ style of writing (see poetic techniques & terminology)

  • Choose one image/line from this poem that appealed to you. Explain your choice.
  • The poem uses beautiful imagery to capture an ugly reality. Discuss.
  • The poem makes effective use of irony – discuss.

Questions on the poet/speaker/characters in the poem

  • What impression do you get of ….. the poet’s father – the father/son relationship? (see list of character traits).
  • What impact does this childhood experience have on the poet/speaker?
  • What kind of life do you think the speaker lives?
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