Taking a look at many IGCSE Unseen Papers, we can come to the conclusion that they usually deal with 5 Universal Themes:
- Coming of Age/Rite of Passage (maturing, growing up, passing from childhood to adulthood)
- Post-colonialism (colonizer-colonized, slavery)
- Power Relations (mother-child or son, daughter, father-child or son, daughter, husband-wife, etc)
- Displacement, alianation (moving away)
- Inner self vs outer self
There are no set books for this paper but you can (and should) prepare for it. Although there are no quotations to learn for this paper, the critical skills you use in the set papers are also being tested in the Unseen paper. So in many ways preparation for this paper has in fact been taking place throughout your IGCSE course.
–You must answer one of the two questions on the paper: either the poetry unseen (on a single poem or extract from a longer poem) or the prose unseen (on a passage from a novel or short story).
-You are advised to spend around 20 minutes reading the questions and planning your answer. You should: select your question wisely; read the question carefully and highlight the keywords (which you will keep glancing at throughout the exam); read your chosen poem/passage and annotate it, highlighting the words and phrases you intend to comment on in your essay.
-A brief outline of what the poem or passage says (a few lines ONLY) might be appropriate as a starting point. But you should not re-tell the story.
-The question will direct you to an aspect of the writer’s techniques, so the main focus of the question will be on how the writer presents his or her material.
-You must respond directly and personally to the question. Remember there are no correct or definitive answers.
-Do not include lists of devices. Explore them by considering carefully how and why they were useful to the writer in achieving a particular effect.
-Make sure you set poetry quotations out properly. If you are quoting a line or perhaps two lines, you should indent one or both lines and follow the line arrangement of the original (so don’t rewrite lines as prose). The very best essays on poetry smoothly embed (integrate) short quotations (a word or phrase) and analytical comment on them.
-You should devote around 50 minutes to the writing of your answer, which leaves 5 minutes for checking what you have written.