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Dear Grade 12 learner

This Mind the Gap study guide helps you to prepare for the end-of-year Grade 12 English First Additional Language (EFAL) Literature exam.
There are three exams for EFAL: Paper 1: Language in Context; Paper 2: Literature; and Paper 3: Writing.
There are nine great EFAL Mind the Gap study guides which cover Papers 1, 2 and 3.
Paper 2: Literature includes the study of novels, drama, short stories and poetry. A Mind the Gap study guide is available for each of the prescribed literature titles. Choose the study guide for the set works you studied in your EFAL class at school.
This study guide focuses on the 10 prescribed poems examined in Paper 2: Literature. You will need to study all 10 poems for the exam:

  1. Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
  2. Death be not proud by John Donne
  3. An elementary school classroom in a slum by Stephen Spender
  4. Auto wreck by Karl Shapiro
  5. On his blindness by John Milton
  6. A prayer for all my countrymen by Guy Butler
  7. The birth of Shaka by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali
  8. The serf by Roy Campbell
  9. Mementos, 1 by WD Snodgrass
  10. Cheetah by Charles Eglington

How to use this study guide

There is one chapter for each poem. Each chapter includes a copy of the poem and information about:

  • The poet;
  • The themes;
  • Words you need to know to understand the poem;
  • Type and form;
  • Line-by-line analysis; and
  • Tone and mood.

All the above information is contained in a one-page summary. Use the 10 summaries to help you hold the 10 poems clearly in your mind.
You can test your understanding of each poem by completing the activities, then use the answers to mark your own work. The activities are based on the kinds of questions you will find in the exam.

Top 7 study tips

  1. Break your learning up into manageable sections. This will help your brain to focus. Take short breaks between studying one section and going onto the next.
  2. Have all your materials ready before you begin studying a section – pencils, pens, highlighters, paper, glass of water, etc.
  3. Be positive. It helps your brain hold on to the information.
  4. Your brain learns well with colours and pictures. Try to use them whenever you can.
  5. Repetition is the key to remembering information you have to learn. Keep going over the work until you can recall it with ease.
  6. Teach what you are learning to anyone who will listen. It is definitely worth reading your revision notes aloud.
  7. Sleeping for at least eight hours every night, eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water are all important things you need to do for your brain. Studying for exams is like exercise, so you must be prepared physically as well as mentally.

On the exam day

  1. Make sure you bring pens that work, sharp pencils, a rubber and a sharpener. Make sure you bring your ID document and examination admission letter. Arrive at the exam venue at least an hour before the start of the exam.
  2. Go to the toilet before entering the exam room. You don’t want to waste valuable time going to the toilet during the exam.
  3. You must know at the start of the exam which two out of the four sections of the Paper 2 Literature exam you will be answering. Use the 10 minutes’ reading time to read the instructions carefully.
  4. Break each question down to make sure you understand what is being asked. If you don’t answer the question properly you won’t get any marks for it. Look for the key words in the question to know how to answer it. You will find a list of question words on pages xiv and xv of this study guide.
  5. Manage your time carefully. Start with the question you think is the easiest. Check how many marks are allocated to each question so you give the right amount of information in your answer.
  6. Remain calm, even if the question seems difficult at first. It will be linked with something you have covered. If you feel stuck, move on and come back if time allows. Do try and answer as many questions as possible.
  7. Take care to write neatly so the examiners can read your answers

Overview of the English First  Additional Language Paper 2:  Literature exam 

In the Paper 2 Literature exam, you need to answer questions from two  sections. Choose the two sections that you know best: 

  • Section A: Novel 
  • Section B: Drama 
  • Section C: Short stories 
  • Section D: Poetry 

A total of 70 marks is allocated for Paper 2, which means 35 marks for  each section you choose. 
You will have two hours for this exam. 

Here is a summary of the Paper 2 Literature exam  paper: 

Question  number

Title of novel 

Type of  question

Number of  marks

Section A: Novel If you choose Section A, answer ONE question. Choose the  question for the book you have learnt.


To Kill a Mockingbird 




Lord of the Flies 




A Grain of Wheat 



Section B: Drama If you choose Section B, answer ONE question. Choose the  question for the play you have learnt.


Romeo and Juliet 




Nothing but the Truth 



Section C: Short stories If you choose Section C, answer BOTH questions. You  will not know exactly which short stories are included until the exam. TWO  stories will be set. Answer the questions set on BOTH short stories.


Short story 


17 or 18


Short story 


17 or 18

Section D: Poetry If you choose Section D, answer BOTH questions. You will  not know exactly which poems are included until the exam. TWO poems will  be set. Answer the questions set on BOTH poems.




17 or 18




17 or 18

What is a contextual question?

In a contextual question, you are given an extract from the poem. You then have to answer questions based on the extract. Some answers you can find in the extract. Other questions will test your understanding of other parts of the poem. Some questions ask for your own opinion about the poem.

What are the examiners looking for?

Examiners will assess your answers to the contextual questions based on:

  • Your understanding of the literal meaning of the poem. You need to identify information that is clearly given in the poem.
  • Your ability to reorganise information in the poem. For example, you may be asked to summarise key points.
  • Your ability to provide information that may not be clearly stated in the extract provided, using what you already know about the text as a whole. This process is called inference. For example, you may be asked to explain how a figure of speech affects your understanding of the poem as a whole.
  • Your ability to make your own judgements and form opinions about aspects of the poem. This process is called evaluation. For example, you may be asked if you agree with a statement.
  • Your ability to respond to the emotional level of a poem. This is called appreciation. For example, you may be asked what you would have done in the situation described in the poem. You may be asked to discuss how the writer’s style helps to describe the tone and mood of a poem.

Question words  

Here are examples of question types found in the exam.

Question type 

What you need to do

Literal: Questions about information that is clearly given in the text or extract from  the text 

Name characters/places/things ... 

:Write the specific names of  characters, places, etc.

State the facts/reasons/ideas … 

Write down the information without  any discussion or comments.

Give two reasons for/why … 

Write two reasons (this means the  same as ‘state’).

Identify the character/reasons/theme … 

Write down the character’s name,  state the reasons.

Describe the place/character/what  happens when …

Write the main characteristics of  something, for example: What does  a place look/feel/smell like? Is a  particular character kind/rude/ aggressive …

What does character x do when … 

Write what happened – what the  character did.

Why did character x do … 

Given reasons for the character’s action according to your knowledge of the plot.

Who is/did … 

Write the name of the character.

To whom does xx refer … 

Write the name of the relevant  character/person.

Reorganisation: Questions that need you to bring together different pieces of  information in an organised way.

Summarise the main points/ideas … 

Write the main points, without a lot of  detail.

Group the common elements … 

Join the same things together.

Give an outline of ….. 

Write the main points, without a lot of  detail.

Inference Questions that need you to interpret (make meaning of) the text using information that may not be clearly stated. This process involves thinking about what happened in different parts of the text; looking for clues that tell you more about a character, theme or symbol; and using your own knowledge to help you understand the text.

Explain how this idea links with the  theme x …

Identify the links to the theme.

Compare the attitudes/actions of  character x with character y …

Point out the similarities and  


What do the words … suggest/reveal  about /what does this situation tell you  about …

State what you think the meaning is,  based on your understanding of the  text.

How does character x react when …. Describe how something affected … State how you know that character x is …

Write down the character’s reaction/ what the character did/felt.

What did character x mean by the  expression …

Explain why the character used those  particular words.

Is the following statement true or false? 

Write ‘true’ or ‘false’ next to the  question number. You must give a  reason for your answer.

Choose the correct answer to complete  the following sentence (multiple choice  question).

A list of answers is given, labelled  A–D. Write only the letter (A, B, C or  D) next to the question number.

Complete the following sentence by filling in the missing words …

Write the missing word next to the  question number.

Quote a line from the extract to prove your  answer.

Write the relevant line of text using  the same words and punctuation  you see in the extract. Put quotation  marks (“ ” inverted commas) around  the quote.

Evaluation Questions that require you to make a judgement based on your  knowledge and understanding of the text and your own experience.

Discuss your view/a character’s  

feelings/a theme ...

Consider all the information and  reach a conclusion.

Do you think that … 

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer  to these questions, but you must give  a reason for your opinion based on  information given in the text.

Do you agree with …

In your opinion, what …

Give your views on …

Appreciation Questions that ask about your emotional response to what happens,  the characters and how it is written.

How would you feel if you were character  x when …

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer  to these questions, but you must give  a reason for your opinion based on  information given in the text.

Discuss your response to …

Do you feel sorry for …

Discuss the use of the writer’s style, diction and figurative language, dialogue …

To answer this type of question, ask yourself: Does the style help me to feel/imagine what is happening/what a character is feeling? Why/why not? Give a reason for your answer.

Literary features found in poems

Diction The poet’s choice of words and how he/she organises  them. 


A mild or vague expression in place of a word that is  more harsh or direct.

First person 

The poem is written from the point of view of ‘I’ or ‘we’. 


A deliberate exaggeration. For example, ‘a big’ plate of  food is described as ‘a mountainous’ plate of food


A statement or situation that has an underlying  meaning that is different from the literal meaning.


A figure of speech that uses one thing to describe another in a figurative way.


The emotions felt by the reader when reading the  poem.


A combination of words with contradictory meanings  (meanings which seem to be opposite to each other).  For example, ‘an open secret’


Giving human characteristics to non-human beings.


A play on words which are identical or similar in sound.  It is used to create humour.


Lines of poetry that end in the same sound.


A regular and repeated pattern of sounds.


An ironic expression which is used to be unkind or to  make fun of someone.


Comparing one thing directly with another. ‘Like’ or ‘as’ is used to make this comparison.


Something which stands for or represents something  else


Themes are the main messages of a text. There are  usually a few themes in each poem.

Third person 

The poem is written from the point of view of ‘he’, ‘she’  or ‘they’. 

Tone The feeling or atmosphere of the poem.

Sound devices: 

Alliteration  A pattern of sounds that includes the repetition of  consonant sounds. The repeated sound can be either  at the beginning of successive words or inside the word.


The vowel sounds of words that occur close together  are repeated. 


A sound that occurs at the end of words that are close  together is repeated.

Onomatopoeia  The use of words to create the sounds being described.
Last modified on Wednesday, 08 September 2021 12:21