English Literature

The Course

The course is divided as follows:

30% of your marks are awarded to the four pieces of written coursework:
1. Pre-1914 Drama (Shakespeare)
2. Pre-1914 Prose
3. Post-1914 Drama

The examination consists of one paper:

PAPER 1: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Section A: Spend approximately 45 minutes
One question based on post-1914 Prose. There will be a choice of questions

Section B: Spend approximately 1 hour
One question based on pre- and post-1914 poetry from the Anthology. There will be a choice of questions.

Each Section of the exam is marked out of 36. These are the grade boundaries to help give you an idea of what to aim for in the exam:

U 0-4
G 5-8
F 9-12
E 13-16
D 17-20
C 21-24
B 25-28
A 29-32
A* 33-36


Poetry: An Introduction

The Mark Scheme

Let’s begin by taking a look at the mark scheme used when marking a question on poetry. NB. This is a generalised mark scheme as it changes slightly to suit individual questions.

0 marks
Nothing written

1-4 marks
Some awareness of the texts.

5-8 marks
Simple comments supported with some detail; Awareness of some aspects of structure.

9-12 marks
Some simple comments supported with appropriate detail; Statement on some aspects of structure; simple linkage in terms of ideas/meanings/techniques; Selection of material from texts for comparison.

13-16 marks
Extended unsupported comment; Appropriate use of quotation; Simple comment on some aspects of structure;generalisation about meanings of texts;Some comments on similarity/difference.

17-20 marks
Awareness of feelings, attitudes, ideas; Range of supported comments; Comment on effect achieved by writer;some focus on the task;Selection of relevant material for comparison.

21-24 marks
Understanding of feelings, attitudes and ideas; Range of extended supported comments with some cross reference;Awareness of writer’s techniques and purpose;explanation of how effects of devices/language are achieved;sustained focus on similarities/differences in terms ofideas/meanings/techniques.

25-28 marks
Appreciation of feelings, attitudes and ideas; Effective use of textual detail with cross references; Understanding of a variety of writers’ techniques; considered/qualified response to writers ideas/purposes; appreciation of writers uses of language/structure/form; Sustained and developed comparison in terms of ideas/meanings/techniques.

29-32 marks
Exploration of and empathy with writers’ feelings, attitudes and ideas; Argument and comparisons integrated with quotations; Analysis of a variety of writers’ techniques. Analytical response to task; Exploration of meanings.

33-36 marks
Consistent and convincing imaginative interpretations; Conceptualised comparative response; Close textual analysis. Evaluative comparison/contrast in terms of ideas/meanings/techniques


One thing you may notice from this is that there are no marks for spelling, punctuation or accuracy. However, it is important you try to be as accurate as possible to allow the examiner to understand your essay. Furthermore, because examiners mark so many papers many just scan them quickly. This means if your spelling is awful that will leave an impression on the examiner and could reflect poorly on your mark.


From this you can see that you will need to include the following to gain a high grade:

1. Make continued comparisons between the two poems;

2. Analyse the language throughout (the best method is to use Point Quote Comment);

3. Evaluate the poet’s structural techniques; say who uses certain devices to the greatest effect;

4. Describe what effects certain aspects of the poem have on you personally;

5. Outline the poems purpose and describe if the poet has effectively met this purpose;

6. Analyse whether the poem is suitable for its intended audience

7. Interpret the poems in an imaginative manner



Right I know how, but I still don’t know what to write?

When writing about the poems it is important that you describe the audience and the purpose of the poem. To do this effectively it is important that you recognise the context of the poem. You should also write about the structure of the poem and finally and most importantly you must write about the language.

One of the exam criteria to achieve an A* is to have an imaginative interpretation of the poems. This means you should try to make your interpretation as abstract as possible; the only important thing is that you can back-up anything you say with quotes from the poem. On the following pages each poem is analysed in detail including more imaginative interpretations.

Poetry vocabulary and common terms

Enjambment - When one line runs onto the next one without any punctuation

Ambiguity - When something isn’t made clear (it could have many interpretations)

Imagery - The use of similes, metaphors or personification

Similes - To compare an object ‘like’ another

Metaphor - To describe one object as though it were something else

Personification - To describe something as though it has human features

Oxymoron - Two opposites written together

Freestyle - Where the poem doesn’t follow a conventual’s structure or rhyme scheme