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Are you required to analyse an unseen poem for your IGCSE / IB English course?

Here, one of our expert English tutors takes you through a five-step process on how to tackle this daunting task.

1. Planning: Take your time. Do not worry if, after your first reading, you are struggling to identify the poem’s themes It takes time to understand good poetry. Begin with points that you understand - perhaps the title or the verse structure or an effective image. Do not rush into writing an answer.

2. Form Consider the form of the poem. Why has the poet chosen to use regular verse structure or regular metre? Alternatively, why has the poet selected free verse?

3. Structure Examine the structure of the poem. Who is the narrator? Why has the poet selected this sequence of thoughts or events? Does their viewpoint and tone change as the poem develops?

4. Analysis of language Begin to link analysis of language to your developing ideas on the poem. Select some examples of imagery, language, metaphor and simile to analyse. Consider how you can use a Point / Example / Explanation / Link (PEEL) structure for this analysis. Remember to link your point either to your next piece of analysis or back to the question at the end of a paragraph.

5. Answer the question Finally, combine your developing understanding of the poem with the question set. Remember: - many poems have different interpretations. The examiner is looking for a personal response, supported by reasoned analysis of the poet’s techniques. - examiners select poems from a diverse selection of writing. The more experience you gain from different types of poetry, the better prepared you will be for the unseen poetry task.

If you would like help with this or any other of your academic subjects, please contact ‘’ One of our highly trained and experienced tutors would be delighted to support you.

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