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OCR English Language Unseen Fiction Reading Anthology | Time and Place Part 1

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

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.

OCR English Language Unseen Fiction Reading Anthology | Time and Place Part 2

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.



In this extract from the opening of a short story by Adewale Maja- Pearce set in Nigeria, the narrator talks about a friend Veronica.

We had grown up together in my native village. Her family had been even poorer than mine, which was saying something in those days. Her father was a brute and her mother was weak, and since she was the eldest child a lot of the responsibility for bringing up the other children had fallen on her. From time to time I helped her out, but there was little I could do. Her father was a morbidly suspicious man. Visitors, apart from his drinking companions, were not encour-aged, and I had no desire to be the cause of even more misery. I helped her fetch water from the stream and occasionally chopped firewood, but that was all. Night after night I would lie awake listening to her screams, cursing myself for my own physical inadequacy and my father for his unwillingness to become involved.

When I was twelve I started at the secondary school in the town a few miles away. During term-time I stayed with my uncle, returning to the village only during the vacations. Veronica and I remained friendly, and she was always pleased to see me, and when we could we snatched time together by the stream and she asked me endless questions about my school and the town and what I was going to be when I grew up. But for all the misery of her own life she never seemed to envy me mine.

And then came the day when I was to leave for good. I had won a scholarship to the University and I knew in my heart I would be away a long time. I was eighteen then and I thought I knew my own worth. The day before I left we met by the stream. As she walked towards me I real-ized for the first time that she was no longer a girl anymore but a young woman. Her clothes were still shabby and if she was no great beauty she still had a certain attractiveness that I knew would appeal to some men. Not that she was likely to meet any as long as she remained where she was. And although her father had long since stopped beating her in every other re-spect nothing had really altered.

‘You must be happy to be going,’ she said. I shrugged and pretended to be unconcerned, but of course it was the break I had hardly dared hope for.

‘What about you?’ I asked.


‘Yes, why don’t you get out of this place? It has nothing to offer you.’

‘I can’t just leave my family.’

‘Why not? What have they ever done for you?’

‘Don’t talk like that. They are my family, that is enough.’

‘But think of all the things you can do in the city,’ I said.

‘No, the city is for you, not me. What will I do once I get there? I have no qualifications, not even Standard Six.’

Although I knew there was a lot of truth in what she said I resisted her arguments: I suppose I was both appalled and frightened by her fatalism.

‘You can go to night school and become a secretary,’ I said.

She shook her head. ‘I leave that to others, my own place is here.’

I snapped a twig and threw it into the water. It bobbed on the current and then vanished from sight.

‘When I have qualified I will send you money to take a correspondence course,’ I said.

She laughed.

‘Don’t talk foolishness,’ she said and stood up. ‘I have to go and cook, my father will be home soon.’

‘Here is my address. If you need...

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