Unit 3 - Reading for Meaning

This is an extract of the full specification, which you can download from this page.

This final A2 examination synthesises the skills and learning of the whole course. In the examination, candidates will study closely unprepared texts from all genres, chosen across time and linked by theme. They will compare the extracts in terms of subject matter and style, reaching out to their wider reading to inform their judgements about:

  • the ways different writers at different times approach the chosen theme
  • the ways different readers interpret texts.

Candidates should read at least three texts in order to prepare for a paper which will contain unprepared passages for close study, comparison and critical commentary.

The topic for this unit is Love Through the Ages. 'Love' will include romantic love but will not be restricted to that single definition. The topic will not change for at least five years and two years' notice will be given to centres of any change.

Candidates' reading in the literature of love should include:

  • the three genres of prose, poetry and drama
  • literature written by both men and women
  • literature through time (from Chaucer to the present day)
  • some non-fiction texts.

The examination will take the form of a 2½ hour written examination. The paper will contain four unseen items. There will be two compulsory questions to answer. Each question will be marked out of 40.

Question 1 will require candidates to compare two items of the same genre. The genre may change with each examination series. This question will require the close reading of the texts as well as reference to wider reading on the theme of love within the same genre as the items.

Question 2 will invite candidates to compare two items (of the remaining two genres). Candidates will use their wider reading on the theme of love through literature to inform their interpretations.


Chaucer will not be set as an item in the examination.

In total, across both questions, candidates will have to write about a minimum of one wider reading text from each of the three genres of poetry, prose and drama.