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A GCSE Student Guide to Reading Non-Fiction and Media Texts

Steve Campsall | Monday October 08, 2012

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, EDEXCEL GCSE, OCR GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, Hot Entries, Media & Non-Fiction, Media & Non-Fiction Activities, AQA English, Unit 1 Non Fiction Texts, AQA English Language , Unit 1 Texts: Non Fiction, Edexcel English, Edexcel Unit 1 English Today, Edexcel English Language, Unit 1 English Today, OCR GCSE English Language, Unit A680, OCR GCSE English, Unit A680 Information and Ideas, WJEC GCSE English, Unit 1 English in the Daily World (Reading), WJEC GCSE English Language, Unit 1 Studying Written Language


As part of your GCSE English exam, you’ll be asked to analyse and discuss aspects of the non-fiction and media text ‘genre’.


The word ‘genre’ suggests that a text type is easily identifiable by readers as belonging to a particular kind or type; in effect, we all ‘stereotype’ texts just as we do people but the effect is called ‘genre’ rather than stereotyping! Texts that clearly ‘fit’ a particular genre are called ‘generic texts’ and we recognise them because they show particular ‘genre conventions’ in the way they appear to our sense – often where they appear, and the way they are laid out and look.

The idea of genre is more important than it might seem and you can use it in subtle ways that will gain marks in your exam. When we, as a reader, meet a media text, for example, subtle ‘conditioned’ genre effects occur whether we want them to or not! An example is when our mind perceives a newspaper article, this genre creates a conditioned level of authenticity and authority, for example that help its writer in important ways – the way it is presented, laid out and written all add to this ‘genre effect’.

Non-fiction and media texts include press advertisements, leaflets, newspaper, magazine or web articles or an extract from a biography, a travel guide or a piece of travel writing.

Revision Tip

Nothing matches working through past exam questions and being exposed to a wide range of media and non-fiction texts. You are easily able to download freely past exam papers from your school exam board’s web site.


Depending upon which exam board your school is following, you will either have studied an exam text beforehand and will be given a ‘clean’ copy in the exam room, or you’ll be presented with two or three ‘unseen’ examples or extracts in the exam paper itself.

  • A non-fictional text is one based on the real world, its people and events; in contrast, a fictional text...

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