Studying for Paper 2 in 2018 – Unseen Poetry

Author: Dan Keating/01 May 2018/Categories: Leaving Cert, English

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Studying for Paper 2 in 2018 – Unseen Poetry

 Have you started studying for the Unseen Poetry question?

Aside from revision and exam prep, one of the best ways to prepare for this year’s exams is to analyse those of recent years; to look at trends and patterns set in previous exams and consider how these might develop.


So, based on the leaving cert English 2017 exam papers, what should we know for 2018?


Unseen Poetry


As always, the unseen poem question was a friendly one. The poem was accessible, as were the questions on it; students just needed to interact with the poem, i.e. quote and discuss specific aspects of it, and answer the questions asked.


Prescribed Poetry


Prescribed poetry, meanwhile, was largely expected, and its questions weren’t as specific or detailed as they were in 2016. This paper returned to asking students how each named poet uses a specific technique or style to present certain themes.


As per you read in our review, widely tipped poets John Donne and Eavan Boland appeared while the neither the question on Eavan Boland nor Keats was a surprise.


Is this sounding like good news so far?


Yes. Is it good news?


Probably not. The diminished challenge of 2017’s questions suggests candidates performed poorly in this section in 2016. The fact that 2017’s questions were more straight-forward means candidates are likely to perform much better; meaning the SEC are likely to raise the bar in 2018!


With this in mind, ensure you study at least five poets and practise answering the type of questions asked in 2016 rather than the easier ones posed in 2017. Even if you have a banker poet whom you’d love to make an appearance, you’ll still need to know that poet’s work inside-out.


Close readings and specific, detailed analysis of a poet’s work in response to the question asked are – we bet – what examiners will look for.



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