school-based assessment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am

a selection of texts

About this page

Each Thursday over the next 14 weeks, Young Post will feature a discussion of a book from the collection on the right to aid your preparation for English school-based assessment.

Each article will be an introduction to a particular text, covering both fiction and non-fiction books. The sub-headings will help you to follow the article easily. The first article is overleaf on page 8.

You are more likely to understand and enjoy a book if you know what to expect, and if you are interested in the plot or topic.

The articles give an overview of what the text is about and also focus on some particularly interesting features.

Use the articles to help you choose which texts you would like to read and as a study aid to prepare for your assessment.

How to succeed in the assessment

Preparation is very important. You will not succeed in the assessment if you run out of things to say too quickly.

So, spend plenty of time making notes on texts, talking about them with classmates and ensuring you have plenty to say. You could even form a small study group with your classmates to practise together.

When taking part in the assessment, naturalness is key. Use vocabulary that is familiar to you. Take care with your body language, gestures and smiling and get feedback from your study partners. Help one another with good questions and supportive listening skills.


by George Orwell (Fiction)

ISBN: 0582777313

This is one of the most important books written in the last century (see Page 8). Although written in 1948, the author manages to predict much of our modern technology, especially CCTV. The main character, Winston Smith, falls foul of the ruling government and Big Brother. It deals with totalitarianism and the abuse of power, but also features a strong love story. Orwell believed we all have to participate in democracy to stop such domination.

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens (Fiction)

ISBN: 0194230007

Charles Dickens is one of England's greatest Victorian writers - some would say the greatest in the language. This shortened version is a good introduction to his fascinating characters. Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas. He is a mean, tyrannical businessmen who hates spending money and is cruel to everyone. One Christmas Eve, he is visited by three ghosts who lead him to change his ways. The story ends happily with love and human kindness.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

by Mark Haddon (Fiction)

ISBN: 0099456761 / 1400032717

This book became an unexpected best-seller. The narrator is a boy with Asperger's Syndrome (his condition means he likes to live in a well-ordered world) who is an excellent mathematician. As is typical of his syndrome, he cannot easily understand or respond to emotions, so it is very difficult for him to deal with his parents' divorce. When the neighbour's dog is killed, he is determined to find the 'murderer'.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling (Fiction)

ISBN: 0747538484

Who has not heard of Harry and the wonderful characters at Hogwarts school for wizards? Readers meet Dumbledore the wizard, the enormous ogre Hagrid and the clever Hermione. On hand to scare the boy wizard is his evil enemy Voldemort. Harry's life is threatened and there is plenty of tension mixed with humour. Although this is a long book, it is very enjoyable to read.

The Pearl

by John Steinbeck (Fiction)

ISBN: 0435120255

Kino is a poor man who makes his living diving for pearls in Mexico. When he finds an enormous pearl, he thinks his problems are solved and he will be able to pay for medicine for his sick baby who has been bitten by a scorpion. Alas, the story has a tragic ending. Steinbeck is one of the most famous American writers of the 20th century and his books are often used as exam texts. This classic story is easy to read and memorable although it is a tragedy.

Romeo and Juliet

by Shakespeare (Fiction)

ISBN: 0582505143

Who has not heard of this story? Shakespeare captures the very essence of young love, its power and its irrationality. Romeo and Juliet's families are sworn enemies. They have to carry out their love affair in secret and marry without the knowledge of their parents. It is a tragic tale of a plan that goes terribly wrong. Yet it is also a celebration of love and a confirmation that it has to take its course. The passion in this story makes it really enjoyable.

The Speckled Band

by Conan Doyle (Fiction)

ISBN: 0435272446

Sherlock Holmes is probably the most famous detective in English fiction. The story in the title features a venomous snake, and Holmes displays his famous cool logic to solve the crime, accompanied by his faithful friend Doctor Watson. In fact, this story was the author's personal favourite. This short story collection is a good introduction to the characters and is a must-read for anyone who is interested in detective fiction.

The Story of Tracy Beaker

by Jacqueline Wilson (Fiction)

ISBN: 0440862795

Wilson writes about modern teenagers in a direct and realistic style. She does not sentimentalise young people, and offers a down-to-earth and recognisable picture of life. Tracy lives in a children's home as her mother is a famous actress in Hollywood but all she wants is a chance at a normal, family life. This is a book that offers the chance for a lot of discussion about the reality of life for many teenagers today.


by Damien Keown (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 0192853864

This book is a short introduction to Buddha and discusses his teachings over the centuries. It will appeal to serious-minded students who have an interest in Buddhism. It is not an abridged or simplified version, so you will need to have a genuine interest in learning about the religion if you are going to persevere with the text. Not a book to be taken lightly but is a very good read nonetheless.

The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr

by Angela Bull (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 075132857X

This tells the story of the most important human rights activist in recent American history. Martin Luther King was a preacher who fought for the civil rights of African-Americans in America at a time when there was widespread discrimination against them. His 'I have a dream' speech is a modern classic. He was assassinated in 1968 and is remembered every year when America has a public holiday in his honour. His life story is a fascinating read.

Global Warming

by Fred Pearce (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 0751337137

This book deals with a relevant, newsworthy environmental issue. Many of our disrupted weather patterns, such as recent major hurricanes, are blamed on global warming. There are also issues arising from the melting of polar ice caps and rising sea levels. Scientists are increasingly in agreement about the causes and effects of global warming. If you are interested in the natural world or science, you will enjoy this.

Pole to Pole

by Michael Palin (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 0563521988

Michael Palin is a well-known comedian and television personality. This account of his travels around the world is light-hearted, amusing and full of interesting insights about the peoples of the world. He has an engaging style, and the book is lavishly illustrated. It is also easy to dip in and out of sections, so this is not a difficult book to tackle. This will be a joy to anyone with curiosity about other countries and cultures.

Stories of Courage

by Clare Swain (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 0582829844

This book tells the stories of eight people who have shown great courage in different ways. The people profiled have been courageous in various ways in countries around the world. For example, it tells of Odette Sansom who spied for France against the Nazis in world war two, and also of Aung San Suu Kyi who has defied the military government in Myanmar. It is an inspiring read.

Women in Business

by David Evans (Non-fiction)

ISBN: 0582453275

The book features successful businesswomen. How did Coco Chanel start her famous fashion empire? How did Madonna transform herself from a poor dancer in New York into one of the world's best-known and richest women? What inspired Oprah to become the most powerful woman in American television? This could be a life-changing book!