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Edexcel IGCSE English Language B (9-1) Unseen Fiction | Natural Forces and Nature

Paul Dodd | Friday March 02, 2018

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

Non Fiction Reading Anthology

Paper 1: Section A- Reading – study and analyse selections from a range of texts


Students should read a variety of high-quality, challenging texts, in preparation for responding to unseen extracts 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 forms, such as fiction, poetry, 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 sample texts that have been produced in this Anthology are based loosely around eight themes to allow for comparison and they illustrate the range of genres described above including fiction and some poetry. Students should build up in their learning a wide portfolio of sources that they can use beyond this in preparation for the exam.
Within the Anthology, towards the back, there is a discussion on how to use this material effectively in the classroom and in assessment and one partial sample set of questions with indicative content for each theme.

How to use unseen textual material effectively in the classroom

Some general tips:

  • The assessment of reading skills in this paper is based entirely 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 texts from the 19th to 21st centuries across a range of genres and increasing the challenge of these texts up into Key Stage 4
  • As 20th Century texts are prominent in this unit your students should build up a clear understanding of the whole 20th century context, the sort of society it was 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 and Section C, 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 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 unseen texts

Section A: Reading

  • Students are advised to allocate 1 hour to Section A.
  • There will be short- and long-answer questions related to two previously unseen text extracts.
  • Students will answer all questions in this section.
  • Total of 40 marks for this section.

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.

For this paper, all the Assessment Objectives apply.

For the assessment in Section A:  a series of questions are asked covering two unseen texts.

The Questions are listed below with the marks:

Question 1- assesses AO1 totalling 1 mark based on one of the texts based on information and ideas

Question 2- assesses AO1 totalling 1 mark based on one of the texts based on information and ideas

Question 3- assesses AO2 totalling 10 marks based on one of the texts’ use of language and structure

Question 4-assesses AO1 totalling 1 mark based on the other text based on information and ideas

Question 5- assesses AO1 totalling 2 marks based on the other text based on information and ideas

Question 6- assesses AO2 totalling 10 marks based on the other text and its use of language and structure

Question 7- assesses AO3 totalling 15 marks based on a comparison of both texts.

At the back of the Anthology a set of sample questions and indicative content for each theme is included along with the generic skills descriptors for each level for each question.

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 unseen texts in each exam paper.
  • As a general guideline, it is recommended that students spend approximately 15 minutes reading and annotating the unseen texts. In the exam itself, the students could work on the basis of 15 minutes reading time and 45 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.


This newspaper article from 1966 looks at the disaster at Aberfan in Wales and asks a series of questions

Disaster at Aberfan

How could it happen? A heap of waste, a man-made hill, dissolves in the rain and suddenly engulfs a school. South Wales is a land of slag-heaps. Its people live in their shadow. Why did this one move? The Coal Board must find out, and the answer may not be soothing. Miners are not careless men, but in some way had not forseen the waste they had piled round Aberfan had become unsafe. South Wales will be a restless place until we know why.

Meanwhile mere words can do nothing to help.

The Welsh, who are used to tragedy, have now suffered their worst. The pits themselves do not kill children.

A disaster which overwhelms a school is a disaster of a special type. In ten minutes a community has lost something like half its children. Their absence will haunt their valley for sixty years to come. No amount of sympathy can fill a gap like that.

There was, though, yesterday an inspiring work of rescue, which continued through the night. There was no delay, no lack of equipment, no lack of skills or resolution. Against all odds, the rescuers found a few miraculously still alive. The children who died, according to the man in charge of the rescue, died instantly.

There must be now a quick and painstaking inquiry into how such a thing could happen. It must uncover the whole truth and establish blame if blame exists. This disaster was not natural, it was man-made. Aberfan is one of scores of communities in South Wales which huddle at the foot of slag-heaps. It is idle to pretend that an exceptionally wet October could be the only reason for yesterday’s disaster; Wales is accustomed to heavy rain. There must have been other reasons too, connected with the way the heap was built, or was allowed to grow, and with the gap that was built, or was allowed to grow, and the gap that was left between the heap and the village.

These are things that can be controlled. There must be a safe way for the Coal Board to get rid of its waste and slag heaps. There must be a way of ensuring that yesterday’s tragedy is not repeated.


This newspaper article from the New York Times in 1988 describes the attempt to rescue three whales.

Unlikely Allies Rush to Free Whales

ANCHORAGE, Oct. 17 — Three young whales, battered and bloodied by jagged ice that has trapped them near Point Barrow, Alaska, have become the focus of a huge rescue effort by uncommon allies.

Eskimo whalers, the National Guard, the oil industry, environmentalists and Federal and state officials, with assists from a Senator and the Defense Department, are trying to free the California gray whales from two pools in the Beaufort Sea ice pack that are about to freeze over.

The whales have survived for more than a week by breathing through the two jagged holes in the ice, seven miles from open water and their migratory path to warmer latitudes. One whale is about 30 feet long and believed to be about 6 years old; the two others are much smaller and thought to be 2 years old. An Endangered Species

‘‘It’s a pitiful thing,’’ said Bill Allen, chairman of Veco Inc., an oil field service company that is supplying equipment for the mission. ‘‘Their noses are a terrible sight. They beat the meat plumb down to the bone to get air.’‘

About 20,000 California gray whales, an endangered species, are thought to be alive today, and many spend the summer off Alaska, feeding at the bottom of the shallow northern seas before returning to their winter grounds off Baja California in Mexico.

Eskimo whalers, who hunt other species of whales, spent the weekend on the ice with chain saws cutting ice blocks two feet thick from the edge of the pool. This bought time while Mr. Allen, other oil company officials and the military planned an extraordinary ice-breaking operation.

This morning a heavy-lift Alaska National Guard helicopter was being prepared for duty as a tugboat that will pull a Veco barge from Prudhoe Bay, 200 miles east of Point Barrow, an operation that was first expected to take about 20 hours but could take 40 hours because of rough...

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