The more important single text, this time Hamlet for our candidates (almost all of whom tackle the exam at Higher Level), gave as its two options a discussion of the central character's 'madness' or the more general corrupted world (easy enough for anyone familiar with the rottenness of the state of Claudius's Denmark). The comparative modes were Vision and Viewpoint (the reader's attitude to a central character or the range of emotional responses in a reader) and Literary Genre (techniques in shaping memorable characters or the effects of setting in texts - which our candidates practised recently). All straightforward there. Sheenagh Pugh's 'The Beautiful Lie' was the Unseen poem ... [amended text on 08.06.2012 - see the author's point about the view in the first Comment below]. This was a very challenging one to tackle unseen, but concentrating on particular moments could take a candidate through.
And so finally to the infamous poetry section: Thomas Kinsella (decay and darkness), Adrienne Rich in the year of her death (powerful feelings, thought-provoking images), Philip Larkin (moments of sensitivity leavening disappointment and cynicism, and Patrick Kavanagh (unique poetic language). As has been the trend recently, these questions were more directed and specific than in the early years of the course.
No doubt there will be a fair amount of commentary on an 'unfair' paper, but this looks like a balanced, sensible test which properly tests the candidates, and no properly-prepared candidate will be upset by it.