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Reading Non-Fiction: Sample Questions


Reading Non-Fiction: Sample Questions Revision

Sample Questions

Before we jump into sample questions, it’s a good idea to get a refresher of the Assessment Objectives that you are being assessed on. 

Assessment Objectives are the building blocks of the questions you are being asked and there are only three to think about here.

Non-fiction texts are usually provided in Paper 2 of the exam, so let’s have a closer look…

So, What Are the Assessment Objectives?


  • AO1: Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas. Select and synthesise evidence from different texts.


  • AO2: 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.


  • AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts.


Now, let’s see how these look in real questions!



1) Read again the first part of Source A from lines 1 to 10.

Choose four statements below which are true.

A) The house was abandoned.
B) Claire was afraid of the house.
C) It was constantly dark.
D) The house was located in Tricester.
E) Their dog ran away.
F) The wind was strong.
G) It was their first time at the house.
H) There was no sign of anyone.

(4 marks)

  • This is is an example of a question asking you to identify evidence, asking for specific information from the text, meaning it only assesses the first part of AO1.
  • You will be given eight options to choose from relating to the specified non-fiction text, four are true, four are false.

2) You need to refer to Source A and Source B for this question.

The writers in Source A and Source B have had different childhood experiences.

Use details from both sources to write a summary of what you understand about the

(8 marks)

  • This is another question that assesses AO1, but instead of only assessing the first part of AO1, it assesses both parts.
  • You can be asked for either similarities or differences for this question, so make sure you understand what it is asking you.
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1) You now need to refer only to Source A from lines 14 to 26.

How does the writer use language to describe their mother?

(12 marks)

  • Here, you will need to focus on language use and techniques that the writer has employed about a specific topic, a key part of AO2.
  • You will also need to give quotes within specified lines of the source in this question.


1) For this question, you need to refer to the whole of Source A, together with the whole of Source B.


Compare how the writers of Source A and B present ideas about crime in countryside villages.


In your answer, you could:

  • compare their different perspectives and feelings
  • compare the methods the writers use to convey their different perspectives and
  • support your response with references to both texts.

(16 marks)

  • The keywords for AO3 here are ‘compare‘ and ‘how‘. Linking words like ‘whereas’, ‘however’ and ‘similarly’ for example are useful to remember for your answers.
  • You are required to compare two texts here, so feel free to include a range of structural and language features that you find in both texts.
  • Remember to analyse each text with equal weight, and provide evidence to support your points.
  • Make full use of the three bullet points in the question, they are there to help you!

Exam Board Variation

Questions will always be slightly different across different exam boards, even if they do follow a similar style and address similar themes

For example, the wording in the AQA English Language paper and the Edexcel English Language paper will differ. However, each question will always be geared specifically to a particular AO

It’s important then that you learn the specific requirements of the exam paper that you’re sitting so that you can begin to adapt your revision as early as you can to the specifics of the exam board and mark scheme.

The examples on this page are AQA style. So let’s see an example from the Edexcel English Language Paper 2, so you can see how they differ for yourself:


“In this extract, the writer attempts to present failure as something positive.

Evaluate how successfully this is achieved.

Support your views with detailed reference to the text.”. 


This question would be worth fifteen marks, so it’s important that we give an appropriate amount of detail in our answer!

In this question you are being asked to form a critical view by evaluating the statement given, that the writer attempts to present failure as something positive in the extract.

You are then asked to defend your view with ‘detailed reference‘, this just means concise and relevant quotes, from the text. 

However, this question assesses AO4, despite being phrased differently from our previous examples. 

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