Well done – you survived Day 1!!! Put that all behind you now, go for physio on your arm (joke… I hope…) and focus on Day 2. If you have Engineering in the morning, remember to bring a nutritious lunch to keep you going for the long afternoon ahead, and a snack (but not a noisy one) for the exam.

Paper II is your opportunity to show off your hard work – make the most of it by answering the questions asked! ****Spoiler alert – I’ll mention that a few more times before the end…

The usual proviso: this is not the Gospel – every teacher has their own advice to offer. Texts referred to here are those used in my own school.

Paper II (3h 20 – 200 mins) 

FOUR questions to be answered: Single Text, Comparative, Studied Poetry, Unseen Poetry

Stick to your allocated times, but leave space after each question in case you want to add more later.

Read the paper through first – Lear likely to be the last of the Single Text questions (page number will be given on front of paper. Check the comparative modes and read the options. Tick the poets you have studied and read the questions. Read the unseen poem and the questions which follow. (10 mins) 

PLAN all answers

*Read all questions CAREFULLY*

Section I Single Text – King Lear (60 marks) (50 mins) 

  • Questions normally take one or a combination of the following formats:
    • Character/s
    • Theme/s
    • Language/imagery/style
    • Dramatic scenes
  • You will have a choice of TWO questions
  • The questions will be complex – outline all the key elements and make sure these are covered in your answer – check back regularly to ensure that you do this
  • Choose carefully – things are not always what they seem, and what appears to be the easier option may not be. Planning carefully is key. If you find the choice difficult, brainstorm both options and see which produces more material
  • Keep your focus at all times on the question asked
    • If a point is not relevant to the question, leave it out
  • Use suitable quotes to support your points – quotes don’t have to be long chunks
  • Avoid summarising the play or parts of it – the examiner knows the story and assumes that you know it, so this is a waste of time – keep your focus at all times on the question asked
  • Always have a brief introduction indicating your position on the question and a conclusion reinforcing the points you have made in response to the question asked
  • Expect the unexpected – you may not have prepared for the specific question you are asked, so be prepared to manipulate your knowledge to suit the question. If you are thrown, brainstorm everything you know that could be relevant to the question and then choose your key points and quotes
  • Length: 5 pages approx.

Section II Comparative Study (70 marks) (65 mins) 

Comparative Modes:

  • Cultural Context (the characteristics of the time and place in which the story is set)
  • General Vision and Viewpoint (the overall outlook of the text, both as intended by the writer and as experienced by the reader)
  • Literary Genre (how the text tells its story

TWO of these modes will be examined, and you will have TWO choices (either A/B or full 70-marker) within each mode.

Expect to refer to ALL THREE texts in your answer.

  • The questions will be very complex. Expect to be required to (i) compare/contrast your three texts in terms of both (ii) the question asked and (iii) the comparative mode.
  • Read the questions carefully and take time to choose the one that suits you best
  • Underline all aspects of the question you choose and ensure that you regularly signpost these in your answer 
  • At least two texts must be compared in each section of a 70-mark answer, and all three must be used unless you are directed otherwise.
  • Integrate your comparisons into each section – do not deal with one text on its own and then the other.
  • Relate each point to two/three texts AND to the question asked
  • Keep your focus on BOTH the comparative mode (Cultural Context, Literary Genre OR General Vision and Viewpoint) AND the specific question you are asked
  • Use comparative terms throughout your answer
  • Ensure that you are familiar with all three modes
  • Always have a brief introduction indicating your position on the question and a conclusion reinforcing the points you have made in response to the question asked
  • Fewer quotes are required than for the Single Text, but you will need to prepare some to support your key moments
  • If answering A/B question, do not make any reference to the text used in Part A when answering Part B unless you are asked to do so (unlikely)
  • Expect the unexpected – you may not have prepared for the specific question you are asked, so be prepared to manipulate your knowledge to suit the question. If you are thrown, brainstorm everything you know that could be relevant to the question and then choose your key points
  • Length: 6 pages approx. (2 ½ and 3 ½ respectively if doing A/B question).

Section III Poetry

Unseen Poem (20 marks) (20 mins) 

  • Leave this till last but ensure that you leave enough time to complete it
  • Read the poem and note any poetic techniques that you recognise – assonance, alliteration, imagery, metaphor, simile etc.
  • Try to get a grasp of what YOU think the poem is about
  • You will have TWO choices of question – select the one that suits you best
  • Your total answer should be around 1 ½ pages

Studied Poetry (50 marks) (50 mins) 

  • FOUR poets will appear on the exam paper, with ONE question on each poet
  • To date, the choice has always included at least one woman poet, one Irish poet and one dead poet, but we can’t take this for granted and YOU MUST KNOW FIVE POETS well
  • A minimum of FOUR poems from your chosen poet must be discussed IN DETAIL in your answer – just mentioning a poem briefly will not suffice
  • Read ALL relevant questions carefully and take some time to make your choice – it may help to make a brief plan to see which question you have more material for
  • Questions can be expected to cover a combination of subject matter (themes) and the poet’s style
  • Underline all aspects of the question you choose and ensure that you regularly signpost these in your answer
  • PLAN carefully and try to combine all aspects of the question in each section of your answer
  • Avoid spending too much time on the introduction – marking doesn’t begin until you engage with the question
  • Include a conclusion reinforcing the points you have made in response to the question asked
  • Avoid summarising the poems – only use material that is directly relevant to the question asked
  • Don’t mention features of style, eg alliteration, unless relevant to the question asked and unless you can explain their effectiveness
  • Use suitable quotes to support every point you make – ensure you quote accurately
  • Expect the unexpected – you may not have prepared for the specific question you are asked, so be prepared to manipulate your knowledge to suit the question. If you are thrown, brainstorm everything you know that could be relevant to the question and then choose your key points
  • Length: not less than 4 pages 

General

  • Read all questions carefully – they will be complex and you will be heavily penalised if you do not answer the question asked
  • NB: You must answer the question you are asked – NOT the question you would like to be asked. If you do not engage with the question asked, your P mark will suffer and consequently the rest of the PCLM marking scheme
  • Quotes from Lear and poetry will be checked for accuracy
  • Avoid summarising or telling the story (or parts of it) in relation to any of your texts
  • Number all questions carefully and clearly, Eg Section II, Question A (a).
  • Write in blue or black pen only – you may use red to number questions but not for anything else (Examiners mark using red and green)
  • PLAN
  • Ensure that you cover all aspects of the question in your answer
  • Take time to read the paper carefully – even if the person next to you starts writing immediately, you don’t have to!
  • Be aware of the clock and stick to the times allocated for each section
  • Did I mention reading all questions carefully?
  • Read all questions carefully… and PLAN.

Summary of timings

  • Reading:                      10 mins (2pm to 2.10pm)
  • Single Text (Lear):      50 mins (2.10pm to 3pm)
  • Comparative:               65 mins (3pm to 4.05pm)
  • Studied Poetry:           50 mins (4.05pm to 4.55pm)
  • Unseen Poetry:            20 mins (4.55pm to 5.15pm)
  • Re-reading:                 05 mins (5.15pm to 5.20pm
  • Total:                           200 mins

Reminder – PCLM

  • P – clarity of PURPOSE – answering the question asked (30%)
  • C – COHERENCE – how well your answer is constructed (accurate quotes come in here) (30%)
  • L – LANGUAGE – all expression issues (30%)
  • M – MECHANICS – spelling and grammar (10%)

**One last thing… READ ALL QUESTIONS CAREFULLY and ANSWER THE QUESTIONS ASKED**

Now, get a good sleep tonight and best of luck!!! It’s almost the weekend…

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