Welcome

Welcome to CIE Literature.

As an English teacher on the international school circuit I’ve become aware of a chronic shortage of web based resources and revision materials aimed at students in international schools. This website is my little pet project to help organise my notes and analysis, while helping students make sense of it all.

I am but one man and don’t have the resources or time that sites like Sparknotes or Shmoop, but hopefully my analysis will fill some of the gaps they leave for international students.

Thanks to all those that have either commented on the site or sent me a personal email; your encouragement and support make this worthwhile. Please continue to comment away, follow the site on Twitter and Facebook to get updates on new articles and hassle me for any resources or analysis you would find useful; I’m more than willing to accept guidance about information you need.

Enjoy the site!

213 thoughts on “Welcome”

  1. hey i cant open the analysis of ‘Death’ by William Bell Scott. i have tried several times but it wouldnt appear hyperlinked.. just simple text! what do i do?

    1. Hi Hamna,

      Don’t panic, but I haven’t written up my analysis yet so it is indeed ordinary text. Hopefully up relatively soon.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

      1. ahan! thankyou! plz do it asap. i have my exam and i just love the way you analyse stuff! 😀 <3

  2. Dear Mr Sir,

    Without your Work and website my life in poetry analysis would be near hopeless. You are a God send and I can almost assure you in one way or another I will look into repaying you for your work and help.

    Cheers!

  3. Hello, Mr Sir 🙂
    You are wonderful for this, thanks a lot for making your writings very fun to read and captivating, this really helps sir, we appreciate it!

  4. Dear Mr Sir,

    I just wanted to thank you for putting up such a wonderful resource. We are a homeschooling family and my eldest child is preparing for her IGCSEs. I studied English Literature (and loved it!) and am so excited to go on this journey with my daughter. Your site will give us the help and confidence we need. We are doing Volume 3, but we are determined not to just prepare for the exam but to really enjoy the subject. I hope you are well and will continue updating your site!
    Cheers!

    1. Hi Shirin,

      What a lovely message and I am glad that the site has been/will be of some use! Exactly the right attitude, as it is all too easy to drill any joy out of literary texts through overly bland analysis.

      Volume 3 is some way away, but hopefully I will be able to assist you in some way.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

    1. Hi Fiyona,

      Which sample essays are you looking for? All of them can be found in the example essay section.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  5. Hello Sir,
    Thank you so much for helping me with IGCSE English Literature. I scored an A* in my exam in the may/june session, Thank you so much!!
    -Shloka Mashru

    1. Hi Alia,

      Sorry, I am a poetry purist these days and I’m also not accepting any essays for checking at the moment. Not sure I would be much use either as I have only read Antony and Cleopatra once years ago.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

      1. Sir, I’ll be really grateful to you if you could check my essay as I had emailed it to you. I need someone to check it urgently as i am appearing for my retake in October. I do not know what mistakes I have made and therefore I would really appreciate it if you could check mine

      2. Hi Zahra,

        I actually emailed you back. Unfortunately I’m not giving feedback on essays at the moment as I am completely overwhelmed by life and have about 5 requests a day for the same thing. On my email I included links to essay tips, example essays and an example of the perfect essay.

        Cheers,

        Mr Sir

  6. Hello Mr Sir,

    Thank you for this website. Reading through it before my CIE helped me get an A* in my Literature in English O Level this May.
    Thought you’d like to know. 🙂

    1. And you were absolutely right, love to hear I have been some help. Well done and enjoy the moment, basking in your own glory!

      Mr Sir

  7. Dear Mr. Sir,

    Congratulations! I just recently learnt about the birth of you and Mrs Sir’s son and that is delightful news. Hope you aren’t having too many sleepless nights haha. I am sure you don’t remember me but just in case you do, I am Sudakshina from Rainbow and I am extremely grateful to you for your help in literature not only for IGCSE but also As level as this website made my life so much easier. I pretty much owe my grades to you! I just got my As level results and surprisingly, I got an 89 in Literature and I am continuing with it in A2 and I hope to get an A* (I mean, what’s the harm in trying?) and I realise that I am going to have to put in a lot more effort and I would be extremely grateful if you could help me out with little tips and if I could keep up correspondence with you via e-mail.

    Thank you very much again and good luck with this new aspect of your life!!

    Best,
    Sudakshina.

    1. Hi Sudakshina,

      Of course I remember you! I have an excellent memory. The little one, Mrs Sir and I are all well and happy to finally be settling down in the Netherlands.

      Brilliant news about your result, that’s an excellent mark! Completely happy to assist over email, but bear in mind that I may not always be able to assist or spend a great deal of time going through work or whatever; I’ll do what I can though. I’ll pop you an email so you know where best to contact me. Oh, I will require RISU gossip in return for any advice/help I give you. 😉

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  8. hi Mr Sir!!!!!!!
    firstly,I’d like to thank God for showing me this site!!!
    With the help of your VERY USEFUL literature techniques, style of writing and everything you taught us made me get an” A” (86 marks) for this O/L Examination this May 2016. Quite frankly
    I was a “F” grade student, I got a F for my withdrawal Examination and a” F” for the Mock Exams which was on this March. Fortunately I found this AMAZING site and it helped me immensely that I got the highest mark(which hardly ever happens) out the other bright kids and section who got B’s. THANKYOU sooo much as i got through my lit exam with your help! im so glad of the drastic difference i made!!!!

    1. Wow! That’s some turn around, but please give yourself the lion share of the credit as my site is all ideas and you have to put them and more into practice.

      Brilliant news though and glad I could help.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  9. Hi Mr Sir,

    I think you have excellent writing skills. I want to improve mine.
    What tips do you have?
    Expand my vocabulary? Practice more?

    1. There is no easy answer to that. I found 26 years of education, writing lots of essays and becoming a teacher helped me.

      Practice is the obvious answer though and reading similar types of writing written by people you aspire to be as good as.

    2. Hi Mr. Sir

      Is it possible for me to send a few of the essays I’ve written so that you could give me your feedback?

      1. Hi Kartik,

        Sorry I have decided to put that on hold as I was getting a bit overwhelmed by submissions. I may decide to do it again at some point, but in all likelihood I will charge for the service as it takes a fair bit of time.

        Cheers,

        Mr Sir

  10. Hi MrSir,

    Paper 3 & 4, poetry and drama, are marked based on four components: Knowledge, Understanding, Personal Response and Communication. However, Paper 5 & 6 have an additional one aside from the above, which is Opinion. Please tell me what Opinion entails and how I can go about in incorporating it into my essay structure. This site deals with analysis on Christina Rosetti poems, which is Paper 5 or 6, so this information will be useful to many visitors.

    My Paper 5 exam is next week and it’d be very helpful if you explained this, even briefly 🙂

    – Vishal

    1. Hi Vishal,

      Apologies as real life has taken over and run me pretty ragged over the past few weeks (just in time for exam season and madness for all the users of this site!).

      Okay, so Opinion is basically looking at other critical analysis of the work in question. So, for instance, if you are analysing the work of Rossetti http://www.cieliterature.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=_popupally_setting_generalyou are also reviewing/commenting on what prominent critics have said. This doesn’t need to be done extensively (and I think to do so would be impossible in limited exam time), but is something to throw in alongside your analysis.

      E.g.

      Here Rossetti demonstrates true sacrifice through the abandonment of her heart’s desire. Although Smith sees this as an artistic device used to elevate the strength of emotion explored through her work, the personal nature of the continued references to a figure from her history suggest that this is a pain and sacrifice she has been through personally.

      This isn’t the greatest example as it is off the top of my head and Smith is a fiction of my imagination. However, it should demonstrate how to integrate opinion: a small allusion to the ideas of others being used to further your own analysis.

      Once again, apologies for the delay in answering this question. Hopefully this is somewhat helpful!

      Mr Sir

      1. Hi MrSir,

        Thanks for the reply. The example made it quite helpful.

        How can I get Band 1 for Personal Response? The mark scheme describes it as “perceptive, often freshly personal… originality in approach to and treatment of questions”. Please elaborate on this and perhaps provide an example.

        Thanks!

      2. Personal response is a tricky one. Basically your writing needs to be fluent, perceptive and connect ideas/analyses with confidence. It is a bit tricky to give you a short hand example, but if you have a look through the example essays you’ll find a couple of examples.

  11. Hello Mr Sir, I just stumbled upon this site today while searching for exam help over the internet (panicking mostly XD) but, i just have to say, thank you for everything so far, its really helpful. anyway, since the exam is tomorrow, I was wondering if you could gimme a few tips on last minute revision…..?

  12. Hey,
    Can you please make a small section or document on the different dramatic techniques used in the poems. If you can’t do all please do the most common ones. Thanks in advance. Exams coming up soon and would like something to refer to for the techniques.
    Thank you so much for your time and effort for the website, analysis and summary of the poems. But, I would really appreciate it if you could do the techniques.
    You can also email me on: brooklynnjacob1@gmail.com

  13. Hi sir,

    As you know the igcse exam is on monday. Any last minute revision tips and tips that could help us maximize our marks. Also how would you suggest to study in the most efficient way possible.

    Thanks,
    Yoloman

  14. Hi MrSir,

    How many marks will be deducted if the conclusion is left out of a good essay (band 2, 18-21)?

    Thanks.

    1. It’s difficult to say. The essay is judged as a whole, so if it hangs together quite nicely then you might be alright. However, try to ensure you manage your time so you get the chance to write it as it gives you a nice opportunity to sum up and clarify your answer.

  15. Hi Mr. Sir.
    I have a quick general question about Prose that I was hoping you could answer.
    How important is the use of quotations in our essay in the exam? I generally find the essay questions easier than the extract questions, however since we can’t take the texts into the exam, I would struggle to use more than one or two quotations in the essay and I would just refer to the quotations but not be able to say them accurately.
    If we would lose more than one or two marks by not using quotations then it’s probably better to do the extract question for me, but if it’s nothing or just a couple of marks lost then I’ll do the essay question.
    Thanks!

    Ps. is it better to do quotations that aren’t quite accurate word-for-word or just refer to the text rather than attempt to quote it?

    1. I have the same question, but for AS and A2 level. For comparison essays, is it necessary to quote? If so, how accurate and precise does it have to be?

      1. Is it necessary: technically no. Would it be helpful: probably, yes. However, small, easy to remember quotes are your friend here, even if it is one word.

        How precise? Well, you can’t make them up, if that’s what you’re asking. However, if you make a little mistake and the quote is a bit out, I suspect you won’t be punished. Don’t try to blag quotations though, if you are specific with a reference, even without a quote, then your ideas will probably carry you through.

        Cheers,

        Mr Sir

    2. Hi there,

      Quotations are a funny one. I know that a lot of people cling to them like they are the most important thing: they are not. However, it does help to be able to recall a few as you go to blend into your analysis and make it seem all the more convincing. I find that the best way to get quotations into your head is to organise notes effectively, breaking down key themes and characters into a relatively small number of quotes, which you then revisit frequently. If you keep the quotes really short, you should find that by exam time you have 4-5 that stick and are relevant to the question (unless you get a mega stinker!).

      In terms of remembering word-for-word, ideally you’d get them right. If one word is out of place then it’ll probably be fine, but if you are guessing completely then I would just explain specifically what is going on in the text. If you keep quotes short though, you should find them easier to recall word-for-word, especially if there are only one word long!

      For poetry using the text is undoubtedly more important as close language analysis is key. With prose, it remains important, but possible not quite as crucial as sometimes character development and themes are best focused upon by examining various key events. That said, don’t ignore specific language analysis.

      Hope this helps,

      Mr Sir

  16. MrSir: Ah, yeah I’d forgotten about that as I associate that as being the A2-level Mark Scheme. I know some brave souls do all the exams together so I will try to explain, but it will take me sometime, I’ll have a look at it over the weekend.

    Ahaha, so I must be a brave soul 😉
    Ok, please do look at it over the weekend.
    Although, I thought that you taught A2 Level and so you must be aware of the Opinion component.

    Thank you.

    – Vishal

  17. Hi MrSir,

    Yes, the mark scheme is the same for both Paper 3 & Paper 4.
    However, Paper 5 and Paper 6 have an additional element, Opinion, aside from the usual Knowledge, Understanding, Personal Response, Communication.

    What does Opinion entail and how can I incorporate it into the essay structure you gave us in “How to write the perfect essay?”

    Thank you, sir.

    – Vishal

    1. Ah, yeah I’d forgotten about that as I associate that as being the A2-level Mark Scheme. I know some brave souls do all the exams together so I will try to explain, but it will take me sometime, I’ll have a look at it over the weekend.

  18. Dear Mr. Sir,

    I really love all the effort that you’ve put into this site. There really aren’t many places where you can find help on our specific set of IGCSE poems, and even when you do find a site that comments on one of them, their site is formatted awfully, and it makes it really hard to read, understand, and navigate around their work. Your site is neat and concise, and I find that your summaries of the content are often very, very precise and accurate. I also like how you sternly refuse to write essays or do complete work for students, but do help them out by correcting their essays, and regularly updating your site, and answering their questions in the comments. Oh, and your guide to writing essays it pretty great too (if not a tad bit confusing in some parts). I’ve been studying my IGCSE texts in detail recently, but I’ve been finding it very hard to find or make good questions to practice with. I know that practice is the most important part of study, but I’m not sure where or how to get/make good questions for myself. It would be amazing if you could find/make or advise me on how to find/make good IGCSE English Literature questions for Prose, Poetry, and Drama.

    P.S. I really look forward to possibly sending in an essay to you after I’ve found some good questions, and gotten back into the groove of writing again.

    Thank You,
    Jay

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for the positive comments: I do my best!

      In terms of questions, I’d suggest bugging your teachers, looking through past papers and seeing how questions are phrased to create your own. If you are completely desperate I can come up with one, but I am reluctant to do this all the time as it is relatively easy to pose a generic question.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  19. Hi MrSir,

    Yes, the mark scheme is the same for both Paper 3 & Paper 4.
    However, Paper 5 and Paper 6 have an additional element, Opinion, aside from the usual Knowledge, Understanding, Personal Response, Communication.

    What does Opinion entail and how can I incorporate it into the essay structure you gave us in “How to write the perfect essay?”

    Thank you, sir.

    – Vishal

  20. Hello!

    Just wanted to let you know how deeply appreciated this site is.

    Could you maybe analyst “Soldier, Rest!” next? There’s nothing on the poem out there and it’s quite difficult to understand. Excited to see your interpretation on it.

    Thank you very much!!

    1. Hi Rocio,

      I’ve just been going through ‘Soldier, Rest!’ while at the airport on my way back to Uzbekistan, so it won’t be long now.

      Now that I am away from my wife and son, I guess I can dedicate some time to the site again. Possibly tonight!

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  21. Hi MrSir,

    How are Papers 5 and 6 answered differently from a Paper 3?

    Of course, you’re analysing prose instead of poetry, but what are the differences in essay structure?

    You wrote a fantastic article on how to write the perfect essay, but the example only applied to Paper 3, poetry.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Vishal,

      In terms of essay structure, there should be very little difference. The mark schemes are almost always exactly the same (although I haven’t checked for awhile) and focus predominantly on the way your structure and support analysis rather than specific details being brought up.

      There are several examples of prose essays on the site, which might be a good starting point. Maybe one day I will write something specific to prose, but I am swimming in work, life and family at the moment, so it is unlikely to be any time soon.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  22. Sir please I urgently need to submit an assignment, but the pressure on me to study for me other subjects for a recent exam i have and the attacking spirit to write this essay very well is seriously hunting me. Can you please help me with a 700-900 word essay describing how “billy bones” is presented in “treasure island”? I will be very glad if you do or anyone else does this to help me reduce the burden on my head.
    -Yours sincerely,
    Judith.

    1. Hi Judy,

      As much as I appreciate your urgency, it is not something I am ever going to do. This site is not about doing your work for you, but helping you getting to grips with poetry and basics surrounding the exams.

      Sorry,

      Mr Sir

  23. Congratulation sir!
    I have just sent u an answer on the poem “tiger in the menagerie” and my IGCSE board exams are starting in about 10 days time. it would be a great help if u can correct my answer and give feedback on the same as I find your feedbacks really helpful.

    Thanks & cheers

    1. Hi Shubham,

      I’ve replied over email, but will do the same here.

      No promises I will be able to get it back to you in that time, but I will try my best.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

    1. Hi Katniss,

      I have checked, but I haven’t had time to read through yet as my little boy arrived.

      Hopefully I will get a chance to look at it next week.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  24. Hello Sir,

    I have my IGCSEs in a few weeks so is it okay if I send you a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde essay to look over and give feedback on? Also maybe a poem from the ones that we need to learn?
    Thanks,

    E1811

  25. Hello sir. Can I forward you an essay on the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or Inspector calls? if you have read any of ’em?

    1. I’ve read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but never taught it or studied it in depth and I’ve never read Inspector Calls. However, I am a bit reluctant to say yes to this request as I am a bit swamped at the minute and would much rather focus on poetry.

      However, if you are really desperate for some feedback by all means send away and I will have a look when I get a chance: cieliteraturecontact@gmail.com.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  26. I know this is a literature site, but I would assume since you teach English Literature you teach English Language at IGCSE as well?
    If so, how do you suggest we revise for it?

    1. I do, but I think it is comparatively really easy so doesn’t need much support. I may get round to doing something at some stage, but don’t hold your breath.

      1. Hi sir,

        I think it would be nice if you did something on language in the future. Since you are an igcse English teacher I had a few questions-

        1. How would you see getting an a star in language? I mean based on your personal experience is it only the extra talented[ ones with good language base] students achieving an a star or have you seen the medium rangers also get them?
        2. For the same how would you see getting an a star in literature?
        3. Is it advisable to analyse how writers to our literature standards or is there a different approach ?

        Personally what I’ve felt as a student is that the science and maths are rather easier a stars as the knowledge remains same. It’s only English which is getting me worried cause its a rather subjective paper . Would you agree?

        Have a nice day

  27. Hi, I have an exam in 2 and we’re doing short stories. How do you revise for short story essay questions, from stories of ourselves? I’m used to doing themes and general things like that but I don’t know how to answer specific essay questions on short stories or how to revise for them . Pls help

    1. Hi Finn,

      I’ve actually never taught short stories, so not really sure of the right approach here. I would imagine taking the same approach as the poetry would make sense: figure out common themes, pick short stories that cover these majors themes and revise them to death. Can’t really help any more here as I’ve got no prior experience.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  28. Hello, I have my Literature IGCSE exam in a few weeks and I we study songs of ourselves vol.2(poetry), merchant of venice (drama) and things fall apart by chinua achebe. PLEASEEEEE! I am in desperate need of help understanding heart and mind by edith sitwell and tiger in the menagerie by emma jones. Also, how do you reccommend I study/practice for an unseen poem ?

    1. Don’t panic! 🙂

      If you have specific questions about the poems, please ask away and I will try to give you my understanding. I can’t really help you without understanding what my posts are missing.

      Unseen poem is something I love, although I’ve only taught it recently at A2 level. It can be tricky, but if you are confident and do well you can score very highly as a lot of people struggle.

      Before we see the poem we know somethings to look for: Title – what’s the significance? Meaning – what is the whole thing about? Language – any interesting language/techniques that stands out and how does it contribute to the meaning? Structure – how does this contribute? Tone – how do you think the poet felt writing this/wanted us to feel reading it?

      Read the poem a couple of times and annotate heavily. When you write your response make sure you stick to one interpretation and have confidence in your understanding. Even if you are technically wrong, it doesn’t matter as it is the strength of your writing and the way you analyse that gets you your marks.

      Hope this helps,

      Mr Sir

  29. Hi,
    I’m studying AS Literature all by myself. Please tell me exactly how to study, make notes and revise a collection of poetry, a novel and a play? How do you teach your students?
    I’m really desperate because it’s a very unsure feeling when you’re all on your own without someone to guide you. 🙁 Help will be very appreciated!
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Nat,

      Missed this yesterday, sorry!

      Don’t panic, it’s a big task, but if you are organised and dedicated it shouldn’t be too challenging.

      First of all, pick your texts. Have you done this? Be strategic and pick things where there are loads of resources/notes and if possible also things that are relatively short.

      After that you need to read everything without making notes. Try to enjoy them for themselves before breaking them down into areas of analysis. On second read through (doesn’t have to be a full read, could be target) jot down a rough overview for each of the main characters – who are they, what happens to them, how do they relate to the other characters. While doing this, grab any lines that stuck with you or gave you an impression about a character and record it for future quotations. You also need to determine the main themes of the texts – how are they explored, what message comes across to the reader, how do the characters relate to the theme.

      In terms of poetry, read them all and then try to divide them into categories based on themes. I recommend focusing on two poems that relate to each major theme you’ve identified and knowing them really well. Key quotes, themes, important contextual information.

      This is a good way to start. You’ll also need to practice your essay technique and ideally get some feedback on it (I’m usually happy to do this), then use this to refine your technique and approach.

      I hope this helps and please get in touch if you have any other questions. Good luck!

      Mr Sir

  30. Hi I’m sitting my GCE OL may June 2016. I wanted to ask you if you have any tips about the structure of a good poetry analysis. ( I’m kinda struggling in poetry).( Maybe Heart and Mind by Edith Sitwell) .
    Thanks No hurries
    Cheers !

    1. Hi again,

      I’m just about to post a submitted essay with some feedback, which might help give you some ideas even though it is for AS – the structure should roughly be the same. I’ve also had lots of requests for the same thing, so will have a go at a post with some tips this weekend.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  31. Please, for this year’s Cambridge A-Level; under paper 5, Shakespeare and other pre-20th Century Texts, Section B; we have the following texts:
    Jame Austen- Emma
    Geoffery Chaucer- Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
    George Eliot- The Mill on the Floss
    John Keats- Selected Poems
    Charles Dickens- Great Expectations
    Christina Rossetti- Selected Poems
    Excuse me, does anyone know what text we are to choose from these? Does it have to be either John Keats or Christinia Rossetti, or we can choose any other such as Great Expectations by Charles Dickens?
    I will appreciates comments from anyone clarifying this for me. Mr Sir, I also need your help here. I have already chosen Othello in Section A.

    1. Hi John,

      I assume it is just one text, but haven’t looked at the syllabus for a while. If it is just one, then it would be your choice. However, I’d recommend Christina Rossetti (because I love her!) and all my notes are on the site.

      However, you’ll have a better idea if that’s your sort of thing or not.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  32. Hi,

    Ok, I’ll send you an essay. You’re free to publish it on your site. Where do I send it? Please provide an email.

    Thanks.

  33. Hi,

    Your poetry analyses have been helpful!

    I’m sitting for both the AS and A level Literature in English this May – P3, P4, P5, P6. One problem I’ve run across is that my teachers don’t seem to know how to mark the papers, or rather, my teachers don’t mark the way the examiners mark. I know this because I had to confront them to change their initial marking method because it was quite inappropriate, and my term grades and final Cambridge examination grades are very different.

    Please tell me how literature essays at AS and A level are marked? You’d be a lifesaver 🙂

    Thank you. And thanks for your analyses and notes.

    1. Have you got the mark scheme and the banding criteria? It is all a bit wishy-washy as Literature mark schemes tend to be, but I am happy to mark one or two if you send them in and are happy for me to share them with the world.

      If you need the mark scheme or some examples (unfortunately not particularly recent examples) of marked questions I can send some your way.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

      1. KUPC? Knowledge, Understanding, Personal Response, Communication.

        Yes, I’ve got the banding criteria. I can give you an essay, and you’re free to post it if you’d like.

        Yes, please, send me some examples of marked questions.

        If you could, please elaborate how exactly you mark an essay? It’d bring tremendous clarity.

  34. Thank you very much Mr. Sir but just if I may ask, can you kindly give how you will structure the answer to a question like: Compare John’s behavior in Story A to Joseph’s.

    Thanks once again for the help

    1. Certainly.

      The best way to tackle a comparison question is to forget about analysing side by side. First discuss John’s behaviour and mention all the pertinent point, then switch over at the half way point and start talking about Joseph. Now when you are talking about Joseph you can easily draw comparison by referring back to what you’ve already told the examiner about John in the first half of your essay.

      Hope this makes sense,

      Mr Sir

  35. If you are told to discuss the theme of a poem, is it effective to add the context, background, structure or imagery of the poem?

    1. Yes, absolutely. However, you’ve got to be careful how you do it as you can’t just ignore the question.

      However, what I always suggest when a question focuses on one particular thing is that you need to be very strong in your introduction and take charge of the question immediately. Let’s look at this with an example:

      Q: Examine how Hendriks explores the theme of migration in The Migrant.

      A: In ‘The Migrant’ Hendriks explores the theme of migration by examining the impact of economically enforced migration in Jamaica. His language and structure tie this type of migration to slavery and associates the feelings of separation and loneliness with being ripped from one’s family and culture.

      (this is a good concise introduction that guides the examiner as to what I am going to talk about. Crucially, notice that I have broadened the topic from just theme to mention that I am going to relate the theme to language, structure and whatever else.

      The only other thing you should then do is ensure that you readdress the question at the end of each of your paragraphs with what I call an anchoring sentence – e.g. So here we see Hendriks has used xyz to demonstrate that migration is abc)

      Hope this helps, I will eventually do a updated post about how to tackle essay questions and structure responses.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  36. Hi, Mr. Sir!
    Your site has been the best site around for info on ALevel poems and kudos to you and your writing.
    Thank you so much for this website.
    I’m giving my literature exams this May/June 2016 and this is my main source of help. Thank you so much again!

  37. Dear Sir,

    I am preparing for the CIE O level Literature in English Exam as a private candidate. What text / story books should I be reading to prepare for the exam? I understand that there will be questions on Drama, Poetry and Prose.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Pat,

      Well, you’ve got some options. First of all, get yourself to http://www.xtremepapers.com and download the specification for the year you’ll be sitting exams. This will include all the options for texts and explain the different sections/exam papers you can do.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  38. Hi,

    I’m giving my 10th grade Literature IGCSE exam in a week. How should I prepare so that I can ace it? The syllabus is Jekyll and Hyde, All my Sons, Merchant of Venice, and Songs of Ourselves vol. 2

    Thanks

    1. That’s a big question! Simply I’d suggest breaking down all your texts into the key themes, characters and relationships that you could be asked about and working out in note form how you’d set about answering those questions. Its a big task though so I would start early preparing yourself.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

    2. MR SIR please please please analyse the poem The White House by Claude Mackay for me so as I can help my students better with it thanking u in advance

  39. Hi Mr Sir,

    Could you make revision notes of Jekyll and Hyde as well as An Inspector Calls?

    It would be great if you could write model answers for both these texts and then analyse the essays following the CIE mark scheme, so I understand exactly what they want in an answer.
    Thanks!

  40. Hie. Thank you so much for the recourses here!!! They are awesome. I managed to pass my A Levels with most of the info here!! Its great and awesome…..stay blessed!!!

  41. I got an A* in literature november 2015 a level exams! Was wondering if I could be a volunteer on this webpage and add the following setbooks to the mix. : Othello and a man for all seasons and a midsummer night’s dream. Ive been pretty bored so i find philanthropy to be a good idea.

    1. Congratulations, I’m sure you’re now buzzing with love for literature so I will happily take advantage of your boredom. I’ll pop you an email about the best ways to contribute shortly.

      Thanks,

      Mr Sir

    2. Please do it!!!!!!!!!! Or create a website of your own, me and my colleagues are doing the AS lit in may and we are studying A man for all seasons and MSND. It would be so useful!! And congratulations by the way 😉

      1. He seems to have disappeared now. I think this might have been a heat of the moment promise to do something.

        Cheers,

        Mr Sir

  42. Hi,

    I checked the marking scheme, and I can see the 5 different areas of marking: K, U, P, C and O, and I see the bands as well.

    Yes, would you break down the essay structure?

  43. Hi,

    Thanks for the resources here!

    I have a question. How do I answer a literature question for A level? I mean, what’s required in the answer, what is expected of me? I’ve tried to look up resources on the internet, but I can’t find any. I’d be grateful if you could help or point to some resources that would teach me. I’m sitting for the May/June 2016 Literature exams.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Leon,

      The requirements of an A-Level and an IGCSE essay aren’t vastly different, just slightly tweaked and with a greater level of expectation. Do you want me to break down essay structure or are you after the mark scheme? The mark scheme breaks things down into 5 areas and different bandings. Given that it is an essay/arts subject these band descriptors are pretty vague and unhelpful, but I’ll upload one later for you to have a look at.

      Hope this helps, if you want something more specific just ask.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

      1. Hi,

        I checked the marking scheme, and I can see the 5 different areas of marking: K, U, P, C and O, and I see the bands as well.

        Yes, would you break down the essay structure?

        Thanks for the reply!

  44. Hello,
    How does one structure an essay question that asks for a comparison between the two poems instead of just discussing them?
    Thank you!

    1. The easiest way to approach a comparison is one at a time.

      If the question asks you something like ‘Discuss how two poems deal with the theme of love’, you should open by discussing one poems approach and then, when you’re finished, discuss the second poem, but now you can comment on similarities and differences between them as you go.

      I’ve got a good example essay on the site somewhere, I will see if I can dig it out.

      Cheers,

      Mr Sir

  45. Hi there,
    Just thought I’d say thank-you for creating this site – it is such a help for me. I’m home-educated and it is so hard to find resources. This site is a real help for the O-Level examination that I’m taking this summer! Thankyou so much for your hardwork!

  46. Can you please do some revision notes on An Inspector Calls and Im the King of the Castle? That would be much appreciated.

    Thank you so much! God bless

  47. Hi there! I’m a Nigerian student and I took CIE Lit for my A Levels earlier this year. I used this site REGULARLY for my study and I must confess it’s AMAZING. I had an A in Lit eventually ???and I just thought to drop my sincere appreciation to u here. Thank you VERY much! and keep the good work going. God bless.

    1. Amazing, well done on your A. Glad the site helped and hope you don’t abandon poetry now you don’t have to read it!

      Cheers, Mr Sir

  48. I can’t find your post about taking notes for poetry, like how to split sections in a notebook. Could you please give me the link?

    1. I would love to do this as it is a cracking book and one I hope will be on syllabuses for years to come. However, it will definitely be too late for you as I have a number of other priorities to get through first.

  49. hello sir. thanks so much for the help in literature. Well i have been using this website for my poems in the past 2 years and about to write my exams. thank you so much.

  50. Hi 🙂 I’m writing my AS language paper (9093) soon and am looking for tips on the language analysis section. If you have any for me they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Sorry, I’ve never taught AS Language. Maybe some other kind souls can point you in the direction of some good resources though. Anyone?

      1. im writing AS poetry in two days and i found this website thank you so much for creating this …i would fail without it

  51. Mr. Sir!

    Good tidings, it’s your favorite literature student Joshua, half of the dynamic William/Joshua duo. I couldn’t find an email so I figured I should comment here and express my utmost gratitude for the great guidance you availed me with this year. William and I are both headed to Kent to study Law and I doubt I would have made it without your relentless help and guidance. Thank you again and I wish you all the best in the future!

    Joshua Kazinduka Rossetti

    1. Bloody glad you did too. I wanted to congratulate you both, excellent grades (particularly given you were squeezing it into just one year).

      Kent, ey? Very decent uni, so I am sure you’ll love it, but I hope the fact you are going together doesn’t allow you both to get distracted from your studies. I am pretty sure this is a vain hope, but I know you’ll both do very well at both the studying and the partying aspects of uni.

      When you are rich, famous and powerful, make sure you remember me and poor, tortured soul Rossetti!

  52. Dear Sir,
    This is Cynthia if you still remember me (the short asian girl who needed your help in literature), I wanted to thank you for all your help because without it I wouldn’t have achieved my A*. Thank you so much for guiding me and showing me the right way to write an essay and analyse books and poems. I can’t express the level of bliss I’m experiencing right now because literature means the world to me.

    Best wishes

    1. Congratulations! An A*, I assume that means you’re going to go on and study it at a higher level? Well done and glad the site could be of some assistance.

      1. Haha, and now I’ve realised who you are! Hope everything is good in England (isn’t it a wonderful place!); I’m just settling into my new home in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and am bloody hot constantly and struggling to make myself understood.

        Can you give me a run down of other people’s results if you have time. Thanks and well done again!

      2. England is wonderful (My opinion before winter), but I’m going to miss the craziness in Uganda. I know a few people’s results:
        Leo: 9A*, A and B
        Me: 8A* and 2A
        Lynn: 8A* and 2A
        Sudakshina: 8A* and 2A
        Prathik: 7A*
        Karima: 7A*

        Those are the only ones I know so far.

        Are the students in Uzbekistan more tolerable than us?

      3. Amazing results! You must be over the moon with those. Which two subjects did you get your As in?

        Not met any students yet, all in the next couple of weeks.

  53. I’d like to say that this site has helped me a lot. As a private A’level candidate, who had never studied poetry before, your poetry analysis provided me with a really good reference to use as a study guide. It has helped a lot. Thank you

    I wanted to ask- you have essays on your website which have been done by students. Are these your students? Or can anyone send you their essay?

    1. Thanks for commenting.

      Some essays by my students and some by other readers who have submitted them. I don’t promise I will mark and comment on every essay sent, but as long as I am not overrun by requests I will probably get round to it within a fortnight or so – usually within a couple of days, to be honest.

  54. Hi Sir, thank you for for your poetry analysis as they have helped me a lot when writing my essays. I just wanted to know that do you have you analysed ‘Song’ by Lady Mary Worth and ‘She was a Phantom of Delight’ by William Wordsworth. If so, could you please link the analysis to me.
    Thank you.

    1. Haven’t got round to this yet, and my summer holiday is being spent on friends’ sofas at the moment and not the best environment for sitting down and doing some analysis. I will email you when I begin… if I remember!

  55. Dear Sir,
    Thank you so much for your A`level poetry analysis, they have been of immense help to me. I would like to ask for tips on analyzing prose and drama because my teacher always say I do more of retelling than analyzing. Also I was wondering if you have any notes Stories of ourselves for A` levels ( They Yellow Wallpaper, The signalman, An Englishman`s home etc).
    Thank you again for your help

    1. I’ve not covered Stories of Ourselves with my kids so that is very unlikely to be happening.

      I am a little rushed at the moment so can’t give specific tips at the moment, but if you look at a few of my example essays that might give you a few pointers. Alternatively, if you have an essay you could upload to me I will find some time in the next couple of weeks to give you some advice.

      Thanks for reading!

  56. Hi Sir, when i try to click the link for ‘She was a Phantom of Delight’ it says that there is some error loading the page. It has been saying this for the past couple of days, could you please help me out as i have to write an essay on this poem. Thank you.

    1. I haven’t started that analysis section yet, so it shouldn’t be a link at all. Probably start this in August.

    1. Sorry, I’ve had a day off and my laptop keyboard has decided not to work. I will get round to it today, probably this afternoon. Don’t panic!

  57. hey just a general question
    in drama,if we are given a text and we are suppose to examine the dramatic effect it creates,exactly what parts of the text are we suppose to discuss in our answers and similarly for prose if a text is given and the question asks us how does the writer create the atmosphere,which aspects of the text are we suppose to look into?

    1. You’re expected to evaluate the extract as a whole. Don’t miss out big chunks and go through commenting on all the language/actions/relationships that are significant to your question. It is a bit like the writer’s effect question in the IGCSE English Language Paper 2.

  58. Dear Sir,
    Firstly I would just like to thank you for your analysis on the poems-they have really assisted me and I know that many teachers at my school are using them for their own notes! Thank you so much.
    However I thought I would ask what sort of length you as a teacher recommend for igcse poetry analysis- currently I write 2.5 sides on average, but I was concerned if this is too short for 45 minutes and was wondering if you have a recommendation.
    this is quite urgent as I have my exam tomorrow-any other tips would also be greatly appreciated!

    Many thanks,
    Ab

  59. could you do an analysis of the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
    or put up some tips on how to answer a drama question please?

    1. Didn’t you ask this before? Also, I put up my email address for any essay you might want to send to be checked (cieliterature@gmail.com), but haven’t received anything. I’m not teaching WAoVW and have never read it, so it is not going to happen: sorry. 🙂

      1. I just saw this and also didn’t see the answer to my previous question asking the same thing…sorry to bother you!
        and thanks a lot for the email 😀

  60. Hellos!
    Thanks very much for posting up. Your analysis tips and content was most useful. A little while back, I did some extensive poetry work on the IGCSE Songs of Ourselves selections as group work. We thought your whole section on it was awesome, and really really helpful. Especially since we had to do it last minute :). Your methods of analysis and breaking down the poems helped us gain some amazing insights into the poems, and with those skills and thoughts in mind we were able to incorporate it into exploring deeply other poems that we were to do.
    You’re a saviour! Thanks very much and cheers!

  61. Hi – this is a great opportunity for interaction! Thanks! It’s really useful for me, the teacher, (and for my students) to see other students’ work and the marks they were given by their teachers or by you. Would it be useful if I were to ask a few of my students to load their essays (with marks embedded electronically) onto the website? If that would be useful, please tell us how to do so. Thanks!

    1. Glad it is of help.

      It would absolutely be useful if you could send some essays. The easiest way would be to send me an email with the essays attached and I will do all the formatting and get it loaded up straight away. Scans or word files should be easy enough to embed.

      I look forward to your and your class’ contribution! amadgambler@yahoo.co.uk

  62. Thank the fuzzy sky monkey! I am a History and Drama teacher so I know very little of this poetry, this is a lifesaver.

    1. Probably not going to happen any time soon, as I’m struggling to keep up with the poetry and that’s my first priority. I may share bits and bobs, but unlikely everything.

  63. If people, and teachers, were as thoughtful as you are, the world would be such a wonderful place for all kinds of people to live in and rejoice!
    Thank you. 🙂

    1. I’m fairly sure if you were in my class you wouldn’t think I was thoughtful. Thanks for the hyperbolic praise though.

      1. Haha! Well, this website is my daily go-to to grasp whatever my own Literature teacher cannot impart during class. So however, ‘un-thoughful’ you may consider yourself to be, your action is still a huge help! Sincerely,

  64. wow ! this site has helped me a lot and i couldn’t keep it to my self i told my teachers and class mates and my teacher uses this site a lot now and every one is happy ….thanks a million.

  65. You’ve done a splendid job! I can’t begin to explain how useful your site is to students like me! I’m looking forward to your Rossetti posts, my teacher is absolutely horrible and I find your analysis spot on !

    1. Thanks very much. Should be able to get started on the Rossetti stuff soonish (just want to quickly finish off the iGCSE stuff), but I am dreading it as some of those poems are huge! Trying to get my head around Monna Innominata almost sent me insane, but I have quite enjoyed getting into Rossetti’s head, she was clearly a weirdly wonderful individual.

      I’m sure your teacher isn’t really horrible…

    1. No, sorry. Sticking with the poetry as a priority and I’ve never read ‘The Go Between’. Good luck with it!

  66. Hi,
    Thank you for posting such helpful material on the AS level Songs of Ourselves anthology! Will you be posting any notes on Stories of Ourselves/A Man for all Seasons?

    1. No problem. I’m not covering Stories of Ourselves or A Man for All Seasons with my kids, so afraid not. Also, it is so time consuming that I think I’m going to stick to poetry for now.

  67. hi dr..ur website is just fab..keep it up..cn u plz suggest how to obtain 20 out of 25 or below 25..how to get A or B in english literature main..wl b very gr8ful to u 🙂
    do tell me especially on stories of ourselves..u cn as well email it to me..thanks in advance

    1. Hi, not sure I understand the question to be honest. To get between 20-25 you need to write a really good essay response (not in text speak like your message!) that matches the exam criteria that you can easily find on either the official CIE website (www.cie.org.uk) or at http://www.xtremepapers.com. Have a look at my example essays and they should give you some tips. Also, the second comment you made didn’t make any sense, so I’ve deleted it.

      I’m not teaching Stories of Ourselves, so no help there… sorry!

  68. I’d like to thank you so much for the effort you’ve put into this website. Here in India, I was finding it difficult to find resources for my AS levels. And as English isn’t my strong suit, the analyses have been very helpful, especially for poetry.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I should hopefully complete the last of the AS poems by the end of next week (half way through one of the three remaining and have holiday next week).

      Enjoy!

  69. I live in Pakistan. I cant thank you enough for this analysis. There is a severe dirth of material that can be used as analytical material. i just tumbled on to your site. Its been a massive help. Thank you again. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know if there are any issues with it or if there is anything I can prioritise for you.

  70. Thanks for all the work you have done on these poems. Some great ideas. The analysis of Westminster Bridge has got a bit scrambled so that the ‘language’ section and the tabs that follow I think, are from another (?Greene) poem

    1. Replied on the other page, but it’s not top priority at the minute as there is loads of good analysis elsewhere. I’ll drop you an email when I’ve caught up with the poetry and am adding AMND notes.

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