Poetry Analysis Essay Prompts

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You can identify these questions by words like “serves chiefly to,” “effect,” “evoke,” and “in order to.” A good way to approach these questions is to ask yourself, so what?

Why did the author use these particular words or this particular structure?

What is the overall picture created by all the tiny details?

Example: Some questions will ask you about specific structural elements of the passage—a shift in tone, a digression, the specific form of a poem, etc.

They don’t require you to do a lot of interpretation—you just need to know what is actually going on.

You can identify these from words and phrases like “according to,” “asserting,” “mentioned,” and so on.This is, in many ways, a special kind of inference question since you are inferring the broader personality of the character based on the evidence in a passage.Also, these crop up much more commonly for prose passages than poetry ones.You can identify these questions from words like “infer,” and “imply.” The key to these questions is to not be tripped up by the fact that you are making an inference—there will be a best answer, and it will be the choice that is best supported by what is actually found in the passage.In many ways, inference questions are like second-level reading comprehension questions—you need to know not just what a passage says, but what it means.You can succeed on these questions by careful reading of the text.You may have to go back and re-read parts to make sure you understand what the passage is saying.You will, in general, not be given an author, date, or title for these works, although occasionally the title of a poem is given. The date ranges of works could fall from the 16th to the 21st century.Most works will be originally written in English, although you may occasionally see a passage in translation.The multiple-choice section, or Section I of the exam, is 60 minutes long and has 55 questions, and it counts for 45% of your overall exam grade.You can expect to see 4-5 excerpts of prose and poetry.


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