3 What exam scores mean… 5—Extremely well qualified for college work 4—Very well qualified for college work3—Qualified for college work2—Probably not qualified1—Not qualified
4 What the ESSAY scores mean… 8-9—very competent, excellent control of topic and language6-7—competent, good control of topic and language5—adequate response, but superficial, not much depth3-4—inadequate response, perhaps summary more than analysis, perhaps language weaknesses1-2—compounds weaknesses of 3-4, even less adequate, not much more than an attempt0—merely a reference to the question
5 The Essay Score Song To be sung to the tune of “Do Re Mi” (courtesy of Dr. Rebecca Daniel) ONE—and unredeemed scoreTWO—a waste of Daddy’s bucksTHREE and FOUR—are typicalFIVE—is good but still it sucksSIX—will barely make the spreadSEVEN—will make your parents gladEIGHT—doth justify the breadAnd NINE’s a perfect score (score, score, score)
6 The Poetry QuestionYes, I know—some of you hate (or simply don’t get) poetry—but it’s still the first question on the exam, and you’ll still be writing at least six essays on it this year—so suck it up and learn how.Not surprisingly, one of the keys to this question (or any other, for that matter) is to figure out WHAT you are being asked to do.
7 Examining the questions “Read the following poem carefully. Then, in a well-organized essay,analyze how the speaker uses the varied imagery of the poem to reveal his attitude toward the nature of love.”“The following poem was written by a contemporary Irish woman, Eavan Boland. Read the poem carefully and then write an essay in which you analyze how the poem reveals the speaker’s complex conception of a ‘woman’s world.’”
8 Breaking down the question Look for what the prompt is specifically asking you to analyze. This is going to be the part that addresses the intent or theme of the poem.In the first question, they’re asking you about the speaker’s attitude towards the nature of love.In the second question, they’re asking about the speaker’s conception of a “woman’s world.”
9 This is the part where locating shifts is going to be really helpful. So…how do you do this?Question 1 is a little friendlier—it tells you specifically that it wants you to look at how “varied imagery” reveals the speaker’s attitude. Your topic, then, is how the imagery reveals the attitude towards love.This is the part where locating shifts is going to be really helpful.
10 Whatever, Williams. I still have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s because I haven’t told you how we’re going to structure it.For poetry questions, organize your answer by WHAT is being asked, but focus your analysis on HOW it’s accomplished.For question 1, we will organize by attitude, and focus on how varied imagery reveals/develops that attitude.
11 Now, read “The Broken Heart” Look at the attitudes (what the speaker is thinking about love). What is the overall theme?Stanza 1—love is a dangerous disease.Stanza 2—love devours.Stanza 3—hearts are fragile and easily lost.Stanza 4—his heart is shattered and he will never really love again.Overall theme???
12 So…how does that become an essay? Go back to your question— “how varied imagery reveals.”What images in stanza 1 develop the idea of disease?HOW do they work? Are there images of both mental and physical disease? Why?How might you transition from talking about these images to talking about the devouring and dying that happens in stanza 2?Are you starting to see it? The way to answer this question was laid out IN the question!
13 Pre-writing is ESSENTIAL You will probably spend of your 40 minutes analyzing and structuring, and minutes writing the essay.DO NOT read the question, think for a second, and immediately start writing. The time it takes to structure is the difference between a good essay and a rambling mess with a few good ideas.
14 Question 2 Find the WHAT. What is the question asking you to discuss? Now find the HOW. Last time, it was “how the imagery reveals” the theme. That was nice and specific.This, you might notice, is less so. They’ve left you on your own with a rather generic “how the poem reveals.”
15 AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That’s the sound of my more nervous students screaming. You know who you are.)Don’t panic. This is why we’re learning about things like diction and syntax and allusion and structure and all those other awful things I just tested you on.So—read the poem and figure out what you think the speaker is saying about a “woman’s world.” Then look at the poem again to figure out how that impression is formed.
16 What do you see?Look at structure. External structure is the form of the poem—in this case, four-line stanzas that sometimes rhyme and sometimes don’t. Internal structure refers to the actual sentences that make up the poem—which are much less regular than the short, neat stanzas.You could use this to make a point about how women are present throughout history but are always in the background—or a point about how, even thought they aren’t in the forefront, their work is what supports society.
17 Look for… Recurring images Allusions Repeated ideas …and then determine HOW these kinds of devices support the concept of a woman’s world that you feel this poem presents. Once you figure that out, you can structure an essay around those devices.