We are struggling through unfamiliar text exercises at present and I thought I would recap the key skills you need to succeed in this standard.
– You need a vocabulary for addressing the key elements of literary analysis, but you also need practice applying the devices, moving from merely identifying devices to discussing the impact of the devices on meaning.
– There is still confusion about the difference between paraphrase or summary and analysis. Many of you have difficulty turning your observations into an argument.
– It is clear that in addition to the specialised vocabulary of literary analysis, that you need to enlarge your word bank. Remember you shouldn’t employ exotic words for their own sake but rather choose the exact word to express a precise thought.
– You should read the questions carefully and not bring to the exam preconceptions about the poem or extracts. For example, one exam may require you to discuss social commentary, but another may emphasise character development. The questions evolve from the poem and extract and are written to stimulate and open up discussion, not to provide closure. You should practice writing to a variety of extracts and questions. You need to shape an answer that evolves out of the question and the poem or extract.