This is the question we were working on in class. We'll finish it tomorrow.
Radio Programme – “Why Young People Should Read Poetry” –Sample Answer (2013, p 18, Q.1)
Opens the imagination / broadens the mind
Improves vocabulary and technical knowledge
Can teach you about history or places you’ve never been
The Conquerors (Henry Treece)
Lake Isle of Innisfree (W.B. Yeats)
Good morning, Mary, and thank you for inviting me to speak to your listeners. I’ve always believed that poetry is incredibly important for young people, even if they don’t realise it when they’re learning it! Poetry opens the imagination and broadens the mind. It also improves our vocabulary and teaches us a wealth of technical information. My final point will touch on the ability of poetry to teach us about historical events or faraway places in an interesting, imaginative way. In order to
illustrate my points, I’ll be referring to “The Conquerors” by Henry Treece, and “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”by W.B. Yeats. However, any poem at all can offer us a whole new world to explore.
In “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, Yeats uses remarkable imagery to help us imagine the peaceful island. He refers to the “bee-loud glade” and the “purple glow” of noon. These are unusual ways to
describe ordinary things, and really made me think about how we can use language in more interesting ways. His notion that the peace of the island can sustain him when “on the roadway, or on the pavements grey” was a very important idea for me. I think young people are often almost overwhelmed by stress and pressure. Knowing that we can draw past experiences or favourite places to bring some serenity back to our lives is a very useful thing to learn.
As every young person must study English when at school, improving and extending vocabulary is vital. Here again, poetry can play a vital role. The extensive and effective use of adjectives in Henry
Treece’s war poem, “The Conquerors”, taught me a lot about how a well-chosen word can really improve the quality of writing. Phrases like “melancholy song of swinging gates”and “pressing his thin tattered breast against the bars” are superbly evocative. What I found interesting was that almost none of the words were new to me, but many of them were words I never bothered using myself. Treece’s poem taught me that I have a much greater range of words at my disposal
than I had realised, and that I should use them!
Poetry also offers us the opportunity to learn a range of technical vocabulary. After studying a range of poems, I had learnt terms such as alliteration, assonance, enjambment and – my favourite –
onomatopoeia. Of course, young people could simply use a dictionary or a
vocabulary list to learn these terms, but learning them in context is so much
more effective and rewarding. When I think of alliteration, I think of Yeats’
line “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore.” The second half of this
line is my reminder for assonance. Onomatopoeia
You wish to nominate a novel or short story that you have studied for an award. The rules state that both of the following comments must apply to the winning entry:
- The story stayed in my mind long after I had finished reading it
- The story was skilfully written.
Using these two comments, write the letter you would submit to the judges in support of your chosen novel or short story. Support your answer with reference to your chosen story.
123, Dargle View,
Dear Sir / Madam,
I would like to nominate “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee for the prize of top novel. This novel easily fulfils the criteria of the competition. It stayed in my mind long after I finished reading it, and it was most skilfully written.
This was the most memorable novel I have ever read. Two particular moments have etched themselves indelibly into my mind. The scene in the courthouse when Tom Robinson was on trial, and the lynch mob scene, made a real impression on me.
I was fascinated by the trial scene. I had never understood what racism in the 1930s would actually have looked like. I couldn’t believe that Scout, Jem and Dill were just given seats by adult black
people. The idea that white children had priority over black adults seemed very odd to me. Obviously, the most memorable section of the trial was Atticus’ closing argument. His final lines – “For the love of God, do your duty. For the love of God, believe him” – are some of the most powerful lines I’ve ever read.
An earlier scene also struck me quite forcefully. Before the trial, when Tom is being held in the local jail, Atticus goes to sit outside the jail in order to guard him. Against his orders, the children sneak out to watch him. When a mob of men pulls up, intending to seize Tom, Scout misunderstands their intent and leaps into the middle of them. Atticus shows real fear for his children at this point, demonstrating a side to his character we hadn’t seen before.
Harper Lee displayed great talent in writing this book. She essentially wrote two stories – one about Boo Radley, and another about Tom Robinson. However, she blended the two narratives together so
carefully, the book does not seem disjointed. Each story contributes something to Scout’s growing maturity, which is one of the most important themes in the book.
For all these reasons, I really believe that “To Kill a Mockingbird” deserves the award. Thank you for your consideration,
Sample Poetry Question – 2013 Q. 1
Why young people should read poetry:
Good morning Mary, and thank you for inviting me in to speak about young people and poetry. I firmly believe that poetry is hugely important for young people’s development. We learn about
historical times and faraway places.
Let me start by discussing “The Conquerors” by Henry Treece. This poem discusses the aftermath of World War I. Needless to say, no young people of today were alive during The Great War. This poem helps us to visualise what it was really like. When Treece uses images like “A dead bird in a rusting cage, still pressing his thin tattered breast against the bars, his beak wide open” we get a much better understanding of the hardship war causes. This is made even more clear in the line “the grey child that sprawled, stiff as stone, before the shattered door.” I had never thought about how civilians would have been affected before reading this poem.
Not all poems are so bleak. I would recommend W. B. Yeats to any young person trying to get into poetry. We studied “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” in school, and I absolutely loved it. In this poem,
Yeats describes an almost mystical land that he wishes to retreat to. He says, “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree” in a longing tone of voice. He describes a magical place that is full of peace and calm. The images filled me with wonder– how could noon be a “purple glow”? He used very precise detail to help us ‘see’ the island. We know he will build “a cabin, of clay and wattle” and
have“nine bean rows, and a hive for the honeybee”. His description is so relaxed, it is easy to forget how carefully he has constructed the poem. Lines like“lake water lapping with low sounds” make amazing use of onomatopoeia which adds to the overall mood.
I hope I have made a convincing argument in favour of poetry. We study it in school because it is part of our course work, and we need to be ready for the exam. I feel, however, that we benefit hugely from this study. We learn so much about the careful use of language, about how to create or appreciate a particular time or mood, and how to concentrate on the written word rather than the flashing screen. Thank you so much for your time.
Unseen Poetry 2013 (page 17)
Notes – all questions worth 10 marks –
answers will not be as long as unseen
protective / aware of dangers / but supportive of child growing
reading the poem, I get the impression that the parent is protective and aware
of the dangers facing her daughter.
When the poet says,
“you grew smaller, more breakable with distance”, it is clear that she is
anxious about the child. This
kind of fear is natural for any parent.
the parent is also supportive of her daughter growing up and moving on with her
recognises that her daughter is happy and excited with this new part of her
life when she says, “screaming with laughter”. The
poet herself is not thrilled, but she is not trying to hold her daughter
bike / way of explaining
first, I was surprised by the title. I had expected the poem to be about an
adult daughter leaving home.
The opening statement,
however, talks about “When I taught you at eight to ride a bicycle.”
It seemed odd as the
eight year old hardly left home straight
However, on my second reading, I
realised the poet was using the memory of teaching her daughter to ride a bike
as a way of discussing her adult daughter leaving. The
last image – “a handkerchief waving goodbye” – reinforces the idea that
something more permanent that cycling lessons is being discussed. When
I spotted this, the title made much more sense.
very much enjoyed Pastan’s style of writing. She made very clever use of
onomatopoeia in the middle section of the poem. She
uses words like “thud”, “crash”, and “screaming”.
These words added to
my sense of the poem as I could hear it more clearly.
also uses a simile in the closing lines of the poem.
She compares her
daughter’s flapping hair to “a handkerchief waving goodbye”. Given
the topic of the poem, this is a very appropriate simile.
Unseen Drama – sample answer
notes – body language, actors’ movement,
tone of voice (volume), music,
If I were the director, I would give the
actors specific instructions regarding their body language, movement and tone of
voice in order to create tension. I would also make creative use of
Because most of the tension is caused by
Frank’s attitude, I would have him use very tense and uptight body language.
When he is sitting in the chair, he would have his arms folded defensively and
his shoulders hunched. As he moves away from Rita (when he says, “Perhaps,
perhaps,”) I would have him keep his back to her in order to emphasise how
annoyed he is with her. Rita should have much more open body language for the
first half of the scene, using her arms to emphasise her points. However, when
she loses her patience in her final line, she should place her hands on her hips
and face him squarely as she gives out to
I would also direct how the actors should
sound. For many of Frank’s lines (“talking” / “you didn’t tell me” “everything”)
he should sound sarcastic and petty. He is making Rita do all of the work in the
conversation. In Rita’s final line, she should sound angry and exasperated with
Frank, as she has lost her patience. Finally, I would have just a simple spot
light on the two of them, and the rest of the stage in darkness, in order to
increase the tension that the audience will
Sample answer for the 2002 'awkward' question
Write an analysis of the advertisement
(Start big – describe the ad as a
This is a colourful ad, designed for a
magazine page. It is advertising the sweets, Quality Street. The image is
composed of a man and woman sitting on opposite sides of a couch, with a coffee
table in front of them. On the table is a half-eaten box of Quality Street. Only
purple sweets remain. Each person has a selection of empty wrappers near them.
At the bottom of the ad is a banner on which the copy is printed. From the copy,
we can surmise that the couple are on a first date that has not gone well. All
they have in common is an “unusual dislike of the purple” sweets. The copy
concludes with the product’s tagline,“Quality Moments with Quality Street.” (Use
as much technical language as you can!)
The ad is playing with the idea that most
people like the purple Quality Street a lot. The purple sweet is the hazelnut in
caramel, and it is generally more popular than, for example, the coffee crème or
the strawberry flavoured sweets. Abigail and Carl, however, have avoided the
purple sweets, and chosen any other flavour ahead of them. The joke is based on
the fact that this appears to be the only thing they have in common. In every
other respect, they are total opposites, suggesting that their date has been a
complete failure. (Explain the‘concept’ / joke / premise – what is the
advertiser doing that they think is
The premise is conveyed quite cleverly. The
couple are arranged on the couch in such a way as to highlight the differences
between them. The man is slouched and wearing shapeless, casual clothes. The
woman is sitting very primly and wearing tidy, somewhat old-fashioned clothes.
Her skirt sits below her knees and her hands are clasped in a tense manner.
Neither one appears to be enjoying themselves. They are looking away from each
other, towards the edge of the shot. How they have dealt with their sweet
wrappers further emphasises these differences. Carl’s wrappers are scattered
carelessly on the floor beside him, despite the nearby bin. Abigail’s wrappers
are neatly, almost obsessively, flattened and arranged in a straight line on the
coffee table. (begin a close
analysis of the composition of the
The audience’s attention is focused on the
product being sold in quite clever ways. The box of chocolates – the product –
is centred in the image. There is almost nothing around it to distract us. The
couple are positioned to either side of the box. Above the box there is almost
nothing at all – the blank wall and a pale coloured cushion. The box of
chocolates commands our attention. The only object near it is a heart-shaped
candle holder. This is supposed to be part of the romantic date, but in fact
makes us associate the Quality Street with positive, loving feelings. The banner
at the bottom of the ad, where the copy is located, is a very specific shade of
purple. It is the same colour as the Quality Street label, and again, focuses
our attention on the sweets.
Overall, I think the ad is fairly clever.
It brings the specific sweet flavours in the Quality Street selection to our
attention. There is an amusing joke in the ad, and the use of colour is well
thought out. However, I couldn’t claim that the ad would make me rush out and
buy myself a box of Quality Street. I might remember them more clearly when
buying a gift for a teacher or family member. This is most likely what the
advertisers were hoping to achieve.
Sample Answer 2006
2006 Media Studies (Ploughing
I think the picture communicates a very
specific idea of the National Ploughing Championships. The picture is an extreme
close up of an elderly farmer’s forehead. His forehead is furrowed, like a
ploughed field. His bushy eyebrows suggest hay bales, and his farmer’s cap acts
like a border ditch to the field. The image is a sepia-toned photograph, which
makes it seem very old.
All of this suggests that the Championships
are aimed at elderly rural men, probably farmers. The event is portrayed as a
traditional, old-fashioned event. There is no information given about the types
of competitions or attractions at the Championships. The target audience is
expected to be very familiar with the details of the event. All they are given
is the location and date. This implies that the Championships rely heavily on
The image suggests that this is not a
modern or high-tech event. There is no suggestion of any computer component or
online aspect. The absence of colour implies that this is not a ‘flashy’ event.
I imagine it would be quite slow-paced.
I do not think that this advertisement is
effective in promoting the National Ploughing Championships. While the ad is
very clever, and the image is quite memorable, I don’t think that new customers
would be enticed to attend.
In the first instance, the ad only targets
those people who would be attending the Championships anyway. I have already
mentioned how the ad focuses on elderly male farmers. This is quite a small
number of people. It would be a much more effective ad if it targeted women and
younger people as well. In order to do this, it should have a more inclusive
image, possibly in full colour.
Secondly, the ad gives almost no
information about what an attendee could expect at the show. The text at the
bottom briefly mentions ‘Machinery and Livestock Exhibition’ but gives no
further detail. Anyone who had not already attended would have no real idea of
the wide range of attractions that would be on offer, from food markets to
fashion shows. This is a significant missed opportunity to attract a new
As a result of this ad, the Championships
are unlikely to gain new visitors. This can have serious consequences for
revenue generated by the exhibitors, who would probably be very annoyed by the
Sample opening to personal essay...
Things that make me angry.
Things that make me angry? How long have you got! I don’t think of myself as a particularly angry person, but there are certain people and actions that fill me with a fiery rage.
Take for example, my darling parents. Yes, yes, they clothe me and feed me and generally do a great job of keeping me alive. BUT! Do they have to, really, question every single thing I do? What do they think is going to happen? Let me describe a typical evening in our house. I
arrive home, laden down with homework, study and football gear. All I want is to
collapse on the couch, eat something tasty and enjoy the exploits of Bear Grylls. Chance would be a fine thing! The banshee shriek begins before I even cross the threshold. “What took you so long?! Peter-next-door was home half an hour ago!” Yes he was. Peter-next-door got a lift! Any chance of ME getting a lift? The torment continues… After dinner (appearance at the table a non-negotiable requirement) the litany begins. “Why am I the only one who knows how to wash the dishes? Surely a teenager in full-time education understands the concept of soapy water? Hmmm?!” Yes mother, I do. I also understand the concept of unbridled fury after I break the family heirloom china.