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Edexcel IGCSE English Language A (9-1) Unseen Fiction | Exploration and Adventure Part 2

Paul Dodd | Friday March 02, 2018

Categories: KS4, 9-1 IGCSE, 9-1 IGCSE English Language , IGCSE English Language Edexcel A

This resource has been broken into two parts to make it easier for you to cut, paste and edit. Please click on the link below to find the other half of this resource.

Edexcel IGCSE English Language A (9-1) | Exploration and Adventure Part 1

Non Fiction Reading Anthology

For Paper One - Non Fiction and Transitional Writing- Section A


Students should read a variety of high-quality, challenging non-fiction texts, in preparation to respond to unseen non-fiction texts in the examination. They should be able to read substantial pieces of writing, including whole and extended texts that make significant demands in terms of content, structure and the quality of the language. Throughout the qualification, students should develop the skills of interpretation and analysis.

Text types studied should include a range of non-fiction forms, such as journalism (for example articles and reviews), speeches, journals and reference book extracts.

Text types should also include literary non-fiction texts, such as selections from autobiography, letters, obituaries and travel writing. These lists are not exhaustive.

Texts that are essentially transient, such as instant news feeds and advertisements, will not form part of the assessment.

The Pearson Edexcel International GCSE English Anthology is a resource that supports teachers by providing examples of different types of non-fiction text. Students should be encouraged to read beyond the anthology to support their learning.

Pearson Edexcel International GCSE English Anthology

Part 1: Non-fiction Texts

From The Danger of a Single Story Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From A Passage to Africa George Alagiah
From The Explorer’s Daughter Kari Herbert
Explorers, or boys messing about? Steven Morris
From 127 Hours Between a Rock and a Hard Place Aron Ralston
Young and Dyslexic Benjamin Zephaniah
From A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat Emma Levine
From Beyond the Sky and Earth Jamie Zeppa
From H is for Hawk Helen Macdonald
From Chinese Cinderella Adeline Yen Mah

The sample texts that have been produced in this Anthology can be used alongside the texts in the Pearson/Edexcel Anthology and they are based loosely around the themes of the Pearson/Edexcel Anthology to allow for comparison and they illustrate the range of genres described above. Students should build up in their learning a wide portfolio of sources that they can use beyond this in preparation for the exam.

How to use unseen non-fiction material effectively in the classroom

Some general tips:

  • The assessment of reading skills in this paper is based partly on unseen texts. Consequently whenever possible students should practice analysing texts as ‘unseens’ as the norm in their study of both English Language and English Literature.
  • Try to harness good reading skills from Key Stage 3 onwards by introducing students to a range of non- fiction texts from the 19th, 20th to 21st centuries across a range of genres and increasing the challenge of these texts up into Key Stage 4.
  • As modern texts are prominent in this unit your students should build up a clear understanding of the whole modern context, and the styles of language used. This should cover both non- fiction and fiction texts. There is clear crossover here with English Literature where the texts studied in both prose and poetry can be taught alongside these non-fiction texts as integrated exercises.
  • In preparation for the writing tasks in Section B, it is important that students are allowed the opportunity to articulate their opinions on the subject of the text. This is an important skill for both English Language and English Literature although all such judgements should be evidenced based.

Reading the Unseen Non-Fiction Texts

Reading activities can be carried out as individuals, in pairs or in larger groups. The main principle should be to get students to respond independently to the passage and to understand the viewpoints and perspectives expressed and the main themes of the piece. This can be followed with closer reading to analyse the writer’s craft and possible areas of comparison.

Some words in the texts are likely to be unfamiliar; students may wish to underline and highlight these. In some cases a glossary will be provided in the exam. For the purpose of this anthology, students may wish to research terms or words they are uncertain of. Teachers may wish to add their own gloss to these passages before letting their students look at them. The texts in the Anthology are of varying degrees of length and difficulty to suit a wide range of ability.

Texts could be analysed using the following points:

This list is not exhaustive and is quite lengthy and teachers may wish to slim this down or pick out some of the points for their students but the list will act as a starting point:

  1. Look carefully at the title/headline and the introduction to the text- there is important information and guidance here, which will be of real value.
  2. What is the text about?
  3. Look closely at the genre (diaries, newspaper articles etc.). What is the significance of the genre used here? And the genre in terms of where the balance of purpose and reader engagement lies.
  4. How does the extract start? What is the significance of this as a starting point?
  5. How do the sections of the extract link together and how do they relate to the title?
  6. What is the structure of the piece?
  7. How does the text engage the reader?
  8. How does the extract end? What is the significance of ending the extract at this point and its link to the title or opening of the extract?
  9. What is the tone and mood of the extract?
  10. For whom is the text written? Is there an authorial voice?
  11. What linguistic devices are used in the extract and why?
  12. What style of language is being adopted by the writer?
  13. Are opinions in the piece backed up with evidence?
  14. What points does the writer want to get across? How does the writer achieve this?
  15. When you have read both texts, what do they have in common? (Or not?). Look for similarities but also differences.

Assessment of the non- fiction texts

For Pearson/Edexcel English Language A the following assessment objectives apply for the Reading sections:
Questions will test the following assessment objectives:

AO1 read and understand a variety of texts, selecting and interpreting information, ideas and perspectives

AO2 understand and analyse how writers use linguistic and structural devices to achieve their effects

AO3 explore links and connections between writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed

Section A: Non-fiction

  • Students are advised to allocate 60 minutes plus 15 minutes of reading time to Section A.
  • There will be a mixture of short- and long-answer questions related to a non-fiction text from the Pearson Edexcel International GCSE English Anthology and one previously unseen extract.
  • Students will answer all questions in this section.
  • Total of 45 marks for this section.

The Questions are listed below with the marks:

Text A is the unseen text

Text B is the text from the Pearson/Edexcel Anthology

Question 1- assesses AO1 totalling 2 marks based on Text A based on information and ideas

Question 2- assesses AO1 totalling 4 marks based on Text A and the writer’s thoughts and feelings  

Question 3- assesses AO1 totalling 5 marks based on Text A based on information and ideas

Question 4- assesses AO2 totalling 12 marks based on Text B and how the writer uses language and structure  

Question 5- assesses AO3 totalling 22 marks and is comparison of both texts and how writers present ideas and perspectives about their experiences.

Further details on the breakdown of marks and the relevant mark schemes can be found on the Edexcel website. 

Some general tips with the exam

  • It is important that both passages have been read thoroughly before students start to look at the questions. Students may have very varied reading speeds. They should each be aware of how long it is going to take them to read a total of about 1000-1300 words, which is the approximate maximum word length of the two texts in each exam paper.
  • As a general guideline, it is recommended that students spend approximately 15 minutes reading and annotating the texts. In the exam itself which is 2 hours and 15 minutes, the students could work on the basis of 15 minutes reading time and 60 minutes responding to the questions. This is a guide for students but each individual student should formulate a reading method that works best for them.
  • The questions will be structured to help you frame your responses.
  • Go back to the texts and locate the passages that the tasks are directing you towards.
  • Planned answers, based on a good understanding of the text tend to be significantly more successful than unplanned ones based on a hurried and potentially superficial reading.
  • The reading tasks work in a progressive fashion. The demand for skills and insight increases with each of the questions in each section.

Based on the extracts in the Pearson/Edexcel English Anthology the unseen texts listed below have been divided into three categories which parallel the possible themes in the named extracts above. these divisions are only suggestions and are by no means exhaustive, other comparisons between the named Pearson/Edexcel extracts and those in this Anthology and these could also be fruitfully pursued.


This extract describes the adventures of Joe Simpson whilst climbing in the Andes in his biography of 1995.

I glanced at the rope stretched tautly above me. It ran up the wall and disappeared onto the slope above. There was no possibility of getting back to that slope some twenty feet above me. I looked at the wall of the crevasse close by my shoulder. On the other side another wall of ice towered up ten feet away. I was hanging in a shaft of water ice. The decision to look down came as I was in the process of turning. I swung round quickly, catching my smashed knee on the ice wall and howling in a frenzy of pain and fright. Instead of seeing the rope twisting loosely in a void beneath me, I stared blankly at the snow below my feet, not fully believing what I was seeing. A floor! There was a wide snow-covered floor fifteen feet below me. There was no emptiness, and no black void. I swore softly, and heard it whisper off the walls around me. Then I let out a cry of delight and relief which boomed round the crevasse. I yelled again and again, listening to the echoes, and laughed between the yells. I was at the bottom of the crevasse.

When I recovered my wits I looked more carefully at the carpet of snow above which I was dangling. My jubilation was quickly tempered when I spotted dark menacing holes in the surface. It wasn’t a floor after all. The crevasse opened up into a pear-shaped dome, its sides curving away from me to a width of fifty feet before narrowing again. The snow floor cut through the flat end of this cavern, while the walls above me tapered in to form the thin end of the pear barely ten feet across and nearly100 feet high. Small fragments of crusty snow patterned down from the roof.

I looked round the enclosed vault of snow and ice, familiarising myself with its shape and size. The walls opposite closed in but didn’t meet. A narrow gap had been filled with snow from above to form a cone which rose all the way to the roof. It was about fifteen feet wide at the base and as little as four or five feet across the top.

In seconds my whole outlook had changed. The weary frightened hours of night were forgotten, and the abseil which had filled me with such claustrophobic dread had been swept away. The twelve despairing hours I had spent in the unnatural hush of this awesome place seemed suddenly to have been nothing like the nightmare I had imagined. I could do something positive. I could crawl and climb, and keep on doing so until I had escaped from this grave. Before, there had been nothing for me to do except lie on the bridge trying not to feel scared and lonely, and that helplessness had been my worst enemy. Now I had a plan.

The change in me was astonishing. I felt invigorated, full of energy and optimism. I could see possible dangers, very real risks that could destroy my hopes, but somehow I knew I could overcome them. It was as if I had been given...

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