10 Tips for GAMSAT Section 1 Questions: Poetry

Poetry questions in GAMSAT section 1 consist of two types: extracts from poems and extracts from songs. The units might be made of individual extracts or a combination of two or more excerpts, which might or might not be accompanied with quotes or a short write-up.

Here are some tips on dealing with the GAMSAT Section 1 poetry questions:

1.    Read the whole poem

It’s impossible to analyse a poem unless you have read the whole thing, so don’t skip to question after reading the title or first stanza.

2.    Determine the theme

Read through the poem to see what is/are the theme(s) the poet is dealing with. It might be one issue or several interwoven ones.

3.    Figures of speech

The poet uses figures of speech to convey meanings.  Familiarise yourself with the commonest figures of speech, such as metaphor, simile, personification and so on.

4.    Look at imagery

Poets use imagery to convey their visions. Identify the same, and evaluate the feelings they evoke. For instance, a grey landscape might denote hopelessness and despair.

5.    Read between the lines

What the poet is trying to say is often veiled behind the words. Read between the lines to see what can be the possible underlying meaning.

6.    Infer from context

If you cannot understand the meaning of a particular line, infer the same from the entire poem as a whole. There is certainly some way in which it fits in the entire scenario.

7.    Understand the vocabulary

Words are very important in poems. Repetition of certain words adds meaning to the poem, while others stand out in contrast to the rest. Words will help you understand the mood of the poet.

8.    Search for symbols

What are the recurring/constant motifs and symbols in the poem? These are significant and will help you understand the poem more easily.

9.    Tone of the poem

Determine the tone the poet uses. It can be detached, sad or euphoric. Understanding this will help you interpret the lines much better.

10.   Go by the question

If interpreting something becomes really tough, go with the option that comes closest to your understanding. If there is none, see which one you agree with the most.

Interpreting poetry can come as a challenge to all, even if you are a humanities student. The biggest hurdle you might face is the preconception that a poem is very much open to interpretation. But keep in mind that it really doesn’t matter much in the GAMSAT section 1 questions; whatever your interpretation is, you can simply check whether it fits the context, and finally, whether your assumption is there as one of the options.

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