Great essays: The killer introduction is a must

Just a VERY quick one – most of a musing, really. Having spent the day moderating coursework – aka reading All The Essays – it is so clear that the great introduction is so important. It creates an argument, it sets the tone – it proves that you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t make up for an essay that doesn’t deliver on the introduction’s promise. But it sets the expectations – and then it’s up to you to prove them. What about the difference between these: “In Soeur Louise, Rossetti explores the role of desire in relationships using language and structure. She …

How to stop worrying about quotations: Getting form, structure and language right without memorising the whole text

When exams are closed book, it’s easy for students to panic and worry more about memorising quotes than anything else. The assessment objective for analysing language always includes the selective/judicious use of quotation, but it does also include close reference. While I will do some on how to learn quotes, as we’re coming into the final half-term before AS exams, I’m starting to spend more time on how to get that detailed, precise understanding of FSL (form, structure and language) without necessarily remembering whole poems or soliloquies. As someone who’s not great at remembering quotes themselves (from literature, anyway – apparently I …

Revision tips: ten ways to revise a poetry collection

At AS-level, comparison often needs you to think about the whole collection, which can feel a bit overwhelming when you’ve got fifteen poems and a closed-book exam facing you!

1. Read sample answers
The reality is: you’ll be taking an exam. That exam has a mark-scheme, and you need to know what the balance of the question is focused on. Is it the themes and ideas of the poems? Is it analysis of form, language and structure? Is it comparison across the whole collection? Is it exploring literary and social context? Reading sample answers will show you what that feels like. As you read, think about how the balance works. Does it use a lot of literary terminology? How much does it explore each point? How many other poems or ideas does it refer to? The answer can’t be boiled down to “refer to three other poems”, but you can get a sense of proportion across an answer.

2. Mind-map ideas across the poems
Throw everything you know down on paper! A great one if you’ve got access to an empty classroom and a board pen, or get some cheap wall lining paper from B&Q for a fiver!

Christina Rossetti – AS and A Level analysis revision guide

I am so excited about this! I LOVE writing analysis – as you can probably tell from the rest of my blog, I’m a total English geek and proud of it! So I’ve been working on this a while now, and have decided to put it all together. It’s absolutely detailed notes on every poem in the OCR selection, with some additional goodies like how to use context well and how to meet the assessment objectives. Check out the sample pages here The first fifteen to use the code RossettiRocks will get a 25% discount too! …

Christina Rossetti’s Soeur Louise de la Misericord – Analysis

If you find this helpful check out my full Rossetti revision guide Soeur Louise: does desire destroy her, or does ageing destroy her desire? This is quite a tricky poem from Rossetti – partly, because she’s chosen a real person for her speaker, and partly The Duchess de Valliere – Soeur Louisebecause it’s not always clear whether or not desire is a terrible thing. It’s easy to think it is at first – “vanity of vanities”, burning life and love, leaving the garden a “barren mire” – ouch! But there’s also something there about not being able to feel desire …

From The Antique by Christina Rossetti: complete analysis

If you find this helpful check out my full Rossetti revision guide Rossetti’s poem explores the difficulties of women in the Victorian era, struggling to find a place where they are valued for themselves and what they can offer in a world where – sometimes – men seem to have all the power. Bleakly she asks the question: would anyone notice if I were gone? It’s a heartbreaking lyric poem which speaks to the misery that seems to have haunted Rossetti for a good part of her life.  It’s a weary life, it is, she said:  Doubly blank in a …