Last Minute Poetry Revision 2017

The final Edexcel English Literature A Level exam is tomorrow (Thursday 29th) and for many it will be the final A Level exam! Half of the exam is made up of modern poetry, specifically selected poems from the Poems of the Decade anthology along with one unseen poem. Don’t forget to revise for the second half of the exam too! So, what should you do for your last minute poetry revision?

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Last Minute Poetry Revision 2017

Last Minute Poetry Revision 2017
  • There will be a choice of two questions in the modern poetry section.
  • There will be one unseen poem (Edexcel have stated it will be post-2000).
  • Each question will ask you to compare the unseen poem with one other poem from the list of prescribed poems from the Poems of the Decade anthology.
  • The exam is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and the unseen poetry is worth half of the marks on the paper (30).
  • You should work out how long you want to spend on this essay yourself. Personally, I will be spending 10 minutes reading and analysing the unseen poem and planning my response, and then 50 minutes writing my response.

Analysis for all the prescribed poems for Poems of the Decade are available here. 

What prescribed poems may come up?

There is potential for any of the prescribed poems to be in the exam, so you should make sure you have refreshed your knowledge of the entire selection.

Do I have any predictions? No, however there are some considerations which could be made, but I am not the exam board and the following is purely speculation:

  • ‘The War Correspondent’ had inaccurate information in the Edexcel teacher guide. While this was later corrected, I think it is unlikely that this poem will be included as a result.
  • It could be argued that poems in this year’s and last year’s AS exam will not come up ( ‘Inheritance‘ and ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!‘, ‘Out of the Bag‘ and ‘The Deliverer‘)
  • There are only a limited number of sample questions provided by Edexcel. These include ‘Chainsaw Versus The Pampas Grass‘ ‘History‘ ‘Please Hold‘ and ‘On Her Blindness‘.
  • Eight of the 28 poems are being removed in future years. Would the exam board include them this year if they are never going to be included again? (Note: ‘Inheritance’ was used in the AS exam, so this may not be a good indicator). But it is important to remember that there are no guarantees!

Personally, I’d be reasonably happy with any of these poems being part of the exam, as there are lots of structure and language techniques which can be discussed, and there are likely to be lots of strong comparison points with the unseen poem.

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Comparison is Key!

The exam board specifies comparison as being the key part of this exam (AO4), along with AO1 (argument) and AO2 (analysis).

AO4 Band 5: Evaluates connections between texts. Exhibits a sophisticated connective approach with sophisticated use of examples.

It is really important to be using a range of comparative linking words to show the examiner very clearly that you are making links and connections, and identifying differences. This may be basic, but it is important in ensuring the examiner can give you the most marks possible.

  • alternatively
  • however
  • in contrast
  • whereas
  • unlike
  • otherwise
  • likewise
  • similarly
  • equally
  • as with
  • in the same way

It is also a good idea to make sure you compare a variety of techniques, across language, structure, and poetic devices. Various examples can be found on our analysis pages.

Good Luck!

Your teachers will have helped to prepare you for this exam over the past two years, and you will have retained a lot more knowledge than you think! Most importantly, they will know the current standard you are working at and your strengths and weaknesses, so make sure you follow their advice first. If you’re wanting to do any last minute poetry revision, simply re read your notes and our analysis pages to refresh yourself ready for the exam.

If you’ve found any of our poem analysis pages helpful in your revision and studies, be sure to share them with your friends and fellow students. I’d also really appreciate it if you leave a comment to let me know any suggestions or comments you have for how we can improve Interpreture for other students in the future.


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Thank you so so much for this!! I’d actually be so so worried without your posts thank you!!!!!! :)

No problem, I’m so pleased you’ve found the posts helpful! Good luck for tomorrow :)

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