How to Pass Your Keats Exam

Read and re-read Keats's poems in class and at home. Read them aloud, to yourself and with others to gain a respect for the poetry and gradually build your wealth of 'Keats Quotes' to use in exams. While you need to do this for your exams, try to relate to the poetry as much as you can, and understand its meaning. The idea is to not just know what you need to know, but to actually enjoy the reading of the poetry. It does help! So:

1. Understand the important events in Keats' life. Build up a timeline of Keats' life in an easy to remember list. This includes listing all of Keats work in sequence. This way, you will be aware of the literary context of each piece e.g. that Endymion comes before Hyperion.
2. Have good knowledge of the historical period, and how different it was to the previous period.
3. Gain a basic understanding of Keats's contemporaries and who he admired and who he didn't.
4. A basic knowledge of Mythology is helpful.
5. The book 'John Keats- Selected Poems' (ISBN: 0-14-043725-8) makes fantastic reading. Do not use it simply for the poems, but also for the fantastic introduction and chronology.
6. Be aware of how Keats's poetry develops and matures.
7. Gain good knowledge of what critics at the time thought of his poetry.
8. Have a good number of quotes from Keats's letters in your head, ready for use. See Keatsian Ideas for useful quotes and the context behind them (relating to Negative Capability etc)
9. Keep detailed and organised notes- trust me, you'll appreciate it later on!
10. Learn new words (literary devices and keywords) - make sure you know exactly what they mean, and use them in the exam.

Here is an example of a table you could use to help revise the key points of Keats's poetry. Here we are concentrating on 6 Odes.
Make more tables to cover other poetry. It's remarkably effective at helping you learn and, very importantly, remember the points you may need to bring up in the Keats exams.

. Summary Themes Form Language Historical context Critics
Ode to Psyche . . . . . .
Ode to a Nightingale . . . . . .
Ode on a Grecian Urn . . . . . .
Ode on Melancholy . . . . . .
Ode on Indolence . . . . . .
To Autumn . . . . . .

 




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