AQA English GCSE understanding non-fiction texts

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Who Are The Audience???

  • Can be workerd out from form and content of text
    -The subject matter is a strong clue, for example if the article is about 'Top Gear' then the audience is someone interested in cars
    -The form is the way the text is laid out so a large font and lots of of pictures tells us it is intended for children. Small writing and lots of columns tells us the intended audience is more likely to be adults
  • Language features also give it away
    -The vocabulary can tell you about the age group too, difficult vocab for adults and modern slang for teenagers
    -Also gives a clue about the level of understanding from the audience, simple explanations are for beginners whilst technical terms are clearly for experts 

This needs to be worked out so the writer's intentions can be worked out to discuss their techniques and success.

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What is the purpose???

  • To inform- This tells the reader about a subject to add to their understanding
  • To entertain- An enjoyable read which makes the reader feel something
  • To argue or persuade- This gives the writer's opinions or gets the reader to agree with them
  • To advise- Gives instructions and helps them to do something

Some texts will have more than one purpose

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Informative Texts

  • Informative texts give the readers facts and information
  • Can be used simply to help the reader understand
  • There may be bias along with the information to give an opinion on something

Specific details or dates can be given and contains facts rather than opinions

  • Make a clear opening point on the effect of the information
  • Use quotes to back up your quote
  • Build on the ideas
  • Explain the effect of the quote

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Entertaining Texts

Entertaining Writing Tends To Be Enjoyable To Read

  • Meant to be interesting to be read for fun (however the reader may learn something at the same time)
  • The readers may be entertained with anecdotes or entertaining descriptions and comparisons
  • There could be unexpected, creative similes or funny images or stories

Explain how the writer gains the readers attention and if it makes an experience or event more real, have they entertained successfully? How does it make the reader feel?

Some texts may be informative and entertaining, try and work out which bits of the text do what.

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Texts To Argue Or Persuade

  • When arguing, the writer wants the reader to agree with their opinion so write foricbly and clearly in order to get their point across. There should be no doubt of the writer's opinion
    -There could be statistics and rhetorical questions 
  • When pursuading, it is clear and open about its aims and opinions
    There could be a direct and opinionated tone and use emotive language and make a direct personal appeal to the reader. It should clearly state what the reader should do.
  • When writing about it you should show how the writer's argument works whilst using short and precise quotesThe writing will not be balanced with evidence carefully chosen to back up a point
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Texts To Advise

Here the writer will want to help the reader do something or to help them make the right decision. The style is clear and a lot less emotional.

1. The advise is usually clearly laid out and clearly written with bullet points or numbered lists that are easy to follow
2. The style could be informal or formal.
3. The tone is calm
4. Want the reader to follow their suggestions

  • They may adress the reader as 'you'
  • There may be friendly warnings
  • Might use specific details to get their point across

If the writing is informal and like a friend it is very accessible so the audience may be more likely to take note if it seems well-meant

Texts that advise often assume that the reader is already on their side  so are often a lot less 'in your face' than texts that argue or pursuade.

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Formal And Informal

Formal writing often sounds polite or 'correct' whilst informal writing is the opposite and sounds a lot more relaxed.


  • The tone is not exciting or emotional
  • Standard English
  • Long sentences and correct punctuation
  • The writer won't relate to the audience and sounds impersonal
  • Examples include; textbooks, charity appeals, instruction manuals and news reports


  • There are chatty comments as if a friend is speaking
  • Non-standard English
  • Short, simple sentences
  • Jokes and light-hearted tone
  • Examples include teenage magazines, adverts for young people
  • Makes important points seem less important
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Personal and Impersonal Tones

Personal Writing

  • Sounds as if the writer is talking to you
  • The author writes in first person
  • The writing is often biased with their personal opinions
  • Will often express the author's emotions and can be self-mocking
  • An informal style can be used to create a personal tone

Impersonal Writing

  • Often written in the third person
  • You don't get a sense of the writer's personality- written by an observer who is completely detatched from the events
  • Usually a neutral tone though can still be biased
  • It will sound unemotional and factual
  • A formal style of writing often creates an impersonal tone
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Features Of/ Evaluating An Argument

Look out for the main features of an argument:

  • A writer will use facts
  • A writer will use opinions
  • Implications will be used where the writer suggests something but doesn't say it outright
  • The author will use generalisations, rheoric, counter-arguments and bias

Why is the argument good?
-What kind of impression does the reader get?- forceful? emotional? knowledgeable
-How does this pursuade the reader? 

Why is the argument bad?
-Inconsistencies- if a writer contradicts themselves
-Inaccuracies- the writer's information may just be plain wrong
-Dullness- sometimes an argument won't be very exciting and be full of statistics and not much else or may be confusing and unclear 

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Generalisations and Counter Arguments


A generalisation is a statement that is presented confidently as a fact but doesn't give details, they often make an argument more convincing when its not actually that accurate. 
They are often misleading and conveniently ignore facts that don't support them and create unfair stereotypes  


This is when a writer presents a point of view but then disagrees with it showing why its wrong, the counter-argument shows why the writer thinks another point of view is wrong and makes their view look better in comparison and shows they have considered other viewpoints instead of jumping to a conclusion and them makes them seem more sensible and thoughtful

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Rhetoric and Bias

Rhetoric is when writers use techniques to make language more pursuasive and convincing. The idea is to pursuade their audience that there is only one viewpoint

Rhetorical Questions
These don't need an answer and are phrased so the answer is so obvious its not even worth stating, however it makes the audience feel like they are making their own mind up when the writer is actually getting them to think in a specific way

This emphasises key points, often in threes

If a text is biased its not a balanced view so gives a misleading impression of facts

  • They won't lie but it won't be the full picture either
  • Won't mention opposing arguments
  • Will exaggerate something using hyperbole
  • Often use generalisations

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Headlines, subheadings and straplines

Headlines aim to grab your attention and tell you briefly what the article is about, often they use shocking facts, exaggeration or humour

Sub-headings organise the story and split it up into pieces to make it easier to read

Straplines are short statements expanding on what the headline says, they are found just below the headline and try and hook the reader in

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