In this lesson, our instructor Rebekah Hendershot, teaches about The Poetry Essay. Youll learn where the passages will probably come from and the two questions they will ask. Rebekah also goes over elements such as, content, imagery, form, metaphor, and rhyme, which you should include in your essay. Your job is to score above a 5 so Rebekah also teaches some helpful tips and tricks, as well as, The Ultimate Essay Secret.
The passages used for the poetry essay come from the same sources as those used in the multiple-choice section, but usually there’s an effort to avoid duplication.
There may or may not be a brief introductory text telling you something about the poem(s).
If you are given two poems to compare, they may be from the same poet or from two different poets.
There may or may not be footnotes.
Two Questions to Ask
Read the poem(s). Then ask yourself these two questions:
“What does this poem mean?” (Don’t dwell on the literal meaning; focus on the emotional content, and DO NOT SUMMARIZE.)
“How does the poet make me understand that?” (This is the part where you talk about diction, imagery, pace, and all that stuff.)
Elements to Include
Content – What is this poem about (literally and non-literally)? What happens? Why did the poet choose this topic or these events?
Diction – What unusual word choices does the poet make? What effect does this have?
Imagery – What pictures does the poet create with his or her words? What effect does this have?
Metaphor – What metaphors does the poet use? What effects do they have?
Rhyme – Does the poet use rhyme? Is the rhyme scheme significant? Why do some words rhyme (between and within lines) and others not? What effect does this have?
Form – If the poem adheres to a recognizable poetic form (sonnet, quatrain, etc.), what effect does that have?
Oppositions – Look for places where the poet puts two different elements together. The distinction may be obvious (hot and cold, inside and outside) or subtle (pity and horror, irony and satire), but it will probably be there. Address it.
Your Job is to Score Above a 5
ETS essay readers mentally divide essays (in the first few sentences, usually) into “above 5”, “5” and “below 5”.
Your first task is to get into that first category. Once you’re above 5, it’s all a matter of degree.
Tips and Tricks
Get your mechanics right—neat handwriting, correct grammar/spelling/punctuation, etc.
Make your first paragraph perfect.
Don’t wed yourself to your structure. If your ideas change as you’re writing, work it in. Perfectly structured essays are boring (and anything good written in just 40 minutes will not be perfectly structured).
Don’t restate the prompt. Paraphrase.
Don’t summarize. Use quotations to support your points, but analyze more than you quote.
Use clear transitions and topic sentences.
Don’t pad, and don’t ramble.
Have a hook and a conclusion.
The Ultimate Essay Secret
Be confident in your writing—no matter what you’re writing about!
The Poetry Essay
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
This book includes five full length practice exams with all questions answered and explained. It includes a review of test topics covering details test takers need to know, such as poetry,prose fiction, and drama. It also includes sample student essays with critiques of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a detailed glossary defining 175 literary and rhetorical terms.
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New ed edition
This book is a reprint of the Shakespeare Head Press edition, and it presents all the plays in chronological order in which they were written in an easy to read format. It also includes Shakespeare's Sonnets, as well as his longer poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
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