Developing students' confidence with unseen fiction texts

Author: Kate Lee
Published: 24/03/2022

Teaching resources to develop unseen fiction skills

When introducing and working with students to explore unseen fiction texts, it's crucial to develop their reading comprehension skills. It's only when they understand what they've read, can decode challenging new words and make connections with prior knowledge that they can begin to think more deeply about texts and start to analyse and interpret a writer's craft. 

From 19th-century classics to 21st-century short stories, you'll find a rich and eclectic mix of KS3 and GCSE comprehension worksheets, exercises and exam-style questions on a range of unseen fiction texts to suit your learners' needs — all generously shared by fellow English teachers on Teachit. Whichever time period your GCSE exam specification requires for their relevant English Language paper, we have a range of texts and unseen extracts to support students and build their comprehension skills and confidence.

Nineteenth-century texts
Using an extract from Dickens' Hard Times, 19th century unseen fiction practice tasks has everything you need to build students' confidence with older unseen fiction texts, including short and long comprehension questions, vocabulary and language tasks, group tasks, creative writing activities and answers. Create a comprehension is ideal for younger students as an introduction to a GCSE English Literature set text. It asks students to create a set of 10 comprehension questions on an extract from A Christmas Carol, and an accompanying mark scheme.

Focusing on another Victorian text, AQA GCSE practice exam question for English Language Paper 1 offers a more targeted exam focus to help students to explore an extract from Jane Eyre

If you are introducing unseen fiction texts at KS3, it's good to start with accessible texts. 19th century unseen fiction practice is a carefully scaffolded resource based on Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, while What they actually said helps students become more confident in approaching an early 20th-century text with an excerpt from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. English language activities aims to bridge the gap, with some exam-style questions for KS3 looking at Holes and Of Mice and Men. 

Our KS3 comprehension teaching pack is an ideal introduction to unseen fiction for years 7-8, with a range of approachable older texts, comprehension questions and suggested answers. Our new teaching pack, Mastering comprehension is designed to support year 8-9 students to make the transition to GCSE study, and includes 8 lessons and texts to build students' comprehension, vocabulary, analytical skills and writing skills. 

20th and 21st-century unseen fiction 
If you are looking for modern texts, try Comprehension questions on the IGCSE texts, Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah or Close analysis questions on 'The Danger of a Single Story' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. For more targeted exam practice, Practice exam paper for AQA Paper 1 focuses on an extract from Ray Bradbury's short story 'A Sound of Thunder'.

If you are looking for more unseen fiction resources, a complete scheme of learning or exam practice resources for year 10 for all exam boards, try our Unseen fiction teaching pack or Revise unseen fiction teaching pack

Search all our Unseen fiction resources for more targeted worksheets and activities. 

This article was first published as an Editor's pick newsletter in May 2022. 

Kate Lee

Senior Content Lead at Teachit, and a former head of English and performing arts.