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OCR English Language Unseen Fiction Reading Anthology | Conflict

Paul Dodd | Monday December 04, 2017

Categories: KS4, OCR GCSE, OCR GCSE English Language 2015, J351 Component 02: Exploring Effects and Impact, J351 Component 02: Exploring Effects and Impact Assessment Pack, J351 Component 02: Exploring Effects and Impact Schemes

Component Two

Exploring effects and impact


From the OCR English Language specification:

‘For the reading of fiction, learners read and respond to unseen prose fiction texts drawn from the 20th and /or 21st century. One text may be literary non-fiction. Learners develop knowledge and understanding of writers’ use of language and techniques to create meaning and effects in narrative fiction and literary non-fiction’.

  • Learners read a wide range of high-quality prose fiction texts drawn from the 20th and/or 21st century. This may include, for example, extracts from novels, short stories or literary non-fiction such as autobiography.
  • Learners engage with the detail in texts to draw inferences and recognise the possibility of different reactions.
  • They explore the impact of writers’ uses of language, structure and grammatical features on the reader.
  • Learners support their ideas about texts with carefully selected evidence.
  • They develop knowledge and understanding of linguistic and literary terminology to support their analysis of texts.

Learners should be able to:

  • comment on writers’ choices of vocabulary, form and grammatical features and how these create meaning
  • analyse and compare writers’ use of language, paying attention to detail
  • draw inferences and justify points of view by referring closely to evidence from the text
  • interpret writers’ meanings and effects in single texts and across two texts
  • identify the main themes and ideas in texts
  • use appropriate linguistic and literary terminology to support their analysis
  • evaluate how form and structure contribute to the effectiveness and impact of a text
  • use a broad understanding of the text’s context to inform their reading. Contexts could include for example, the setting or genre
  • explore connections across texts to develop their understanding of the ideas, attitudes and values presented in them

Learners answer all the questions in Section A. Learners read and respond to two unseen authentic prose fiction texts or a prose fiction and literary non-fiction text. Both texts will be either 20th or 21st century prose. There are four reading questions – two lower tariff and two higher tariff questions. (40 marks).

  • The sample texts that have been produced in this Anthology are based loosely around four themes they illustrate the range of genres and period described above. There are examples of fiction texts, short stories and literary non- fiction texts. Students should build up in their learning a wide portfolio of texts that they can use beyond this in preparation for the exam.
  • Within the Anthology there is a discussion on how to use this material effectively in the classroom, a discussion of the assessment objectives, what examiners are looking for and one sample set of questions with indicative content for each of the four themes. How to use unseen fiction 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 fiction 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 fiction texts from the 20 and 21st century across a range of genres and increasing the challenge of these texts up into Key Stage 4.
  • There is clear crossover here with English Literature where the named modern prose texts can be taught alongside these unseen 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 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 texts and to understand the viewpoints and perspectives expressed and the main themes and structure of the piece. This can be followed with closer reading to analyse the writer’s craft and language.
  • 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 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. For the OCR specification two texts are included and some comparison is involved:

  1. Look carefully at the opening of the text and the impact it has.
  2. What is the text about?
  3. Look at the main characters and how they are developed in the text.
  4. Look closely at the genre of the text. What is it?
  5. What style of language is adopted by the writer and how is the text structured?
  6. How does the text engage the reader?
  7. How does the text end? What impact does the ending have?
  8. Look closely at the narrative and/or descriptive sections of the text.
  9. What are the atmosphere, tone and mood of the text?
  10. What point of view is put across by the writer? How is this achieved?
  11. Explore connections across the two texts in terms of the ideas being represented, the attitudes of the writer and the contexts of the two texts in areas such as setting or genre.

Assessment of the unseen fiction texts

For English Language the following assessment objectives apply for the Reading sections in this paper:

Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas.
Select and synthesise evidence from different texts.

Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views

Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.

Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references.

For the assessment in Section A:
Four questions are asked covering the two texts.

The Questions are listed below with the marks:

  • Question 1 (a), (b), (c) - assesses AO1 totalling 4 marks based on information and ideas.
  • Question 2- assesses AO2 totalling 6 marks based on the writer’s use of language and structure.
  • Question 3- assesses AO2 totalling 12 marks based on the writer’s use of language and structure.
  • Question 4- assesses AO3 totalling 6 marks based on the comparison of writer’s ideas and perspectives and AO4 totalling 12 marks based on critical evaluation of the texts.

At the end of this section is 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 the texts are 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 80-100 lines of text (40-50 lines for each of the two texts) which is the approximate length of the unseen texts in each exam paper.
  • As a general guideline, it is recommended that students spend approximately 15 minutes reading and annotating the unseen text. In the exam itself which is 2 hours, 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. Where there are bullet points, look carefully at what they ask you to do.
  • Go back to the texts and highlight the section of the texts that the tasks are directing you towards.
  • Planned answers, based on a good understanding of the texts 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 four questions. Each reading question builds on the one it follows. Question 4 requires candidates to look at both texts.



An extract from Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

An extract about Lee’s experiences in Spain during the Civil War of the 1930’s

Early next morning, four truckloads of militia drove off to Altofaro to attack the rebels. They swung singing through the streets in their bright blue shirts, waving their caps as though going to a fair. El Gato was in charge, dynamite strapped to his body; the others shared a musket between three. Once they were over the hill, we expected to hear the sounds of war break out, but the morning passed in silence.

About noon, a white aircraft swinging low from the sea, circled the village, and flew away again – leaving the clear blue sky scarred with a new foreboding above a mass of upturned faces. Many felt, till that moment, their village to be secure and forgotten; now the eye of war had spied them out.

Throughout the afternoon nothing happened. Families ate their meals in the street, seeking the assurance of one another’s company. Once again the fierce sunlight obliterated everything it fell on, burning all colours to an ashen glare. When people stepped out of their houses they seemed to evaporate for a moment, as if the light had turned them to vapour; and when they passed into shadow they disappeared again, like stepping into a hole in the ground. That afternoon of waiting was the hottest I’ve known. Fear lay panting in the street like a dog. It was as though El Gato and his men had been swallowed up in silence, or had followed the war to another country.

But war was not far away, and after nightfall, unexpectedly, it paid its first mad call on Almuñécar. A destroyer crept into the bay, unseen by anyone, and suddenly began probing the shore with its searchlight. The beam swept over the hills, up and down the coast, and finally picked out the village and pinned it against the darkness. Held by the blazing eye, opening so ominously from the sea, the people experienced a moment of naked panic. There seemed nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, so they hurried down to the beach, and stood motionless in the glare, facing the invisible warship and raising their arms in a kind of massed entreaty.

As the searchlight played over them they remained stiffly at attention, just letting themselves be seen. In the face of the unknown, all they could do was offer themselves in this posture of speechless acquiescence. Such pitiless brightness had never lit up their night before: friend or foe, it was a light of terror.

For a while nothing happened. The warship just sat in the darkness stroking its searchlight up and down the shore. To get a better view, I joined a group of boys who’d already climbed on to the castle wall. We could see the whole of Almuñécar below us – the crowds on the beach and the spoke of light turning on its invisible hub. As we watched, it began to play over the nearby hills and move again along the coastal road. Suddenly it picked out a lorry heading towards the village, then three more, all packed with men. The beam lazily followed them, as though escorting them home, lighting up their rifles like little thorns. One could hear distant shouting above the sound of the engines – it was El Gato’s militia coming back at last.
The trucks roared into a village, horns stridently blowing, and pulled up in the warship’s pool of light. The beam was abruptly switched off, followed by a moment of absolute darkness. Then there came a blinding flash from the sea.


An extract from The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

This extract describes an attack in World War One


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