The unseen focus for AS is going to be slightly narrower than for the A Level. Teachers have a lot to cover in a short space of time so we are not expecting students’ contextual knowledge to be as well-developed by the time they sit their AS exam. We obviously expect that students have studied their set text in depth but cannot presume that they have read much more widely in their topic area for A Level.
In light of that assumption, we are going to ensure that any unseen extracts chosen for feature in the AS paper are strongly thematically linked to the set text but not necessarily to the wider topic area (as opposed to the A Level unseen for which the parameters are much broader). So if we use The Great Gatsby as an example, the unseen extract won’t necessarily be American, and certainly won’t have to be taken from the date range of 1880-1940 as stipulated for the A Level. Something like an Evelyn Waugh social satire about the wealthy would be ideal. Clearly, for some of the texts more than others, the A Level ‘topics’ are going to be central to the novels’ concerns. However, for something like The Reluctant Fundamentalist for example we might ask about the critique of capitalism or the coming of age tropes which aren’t necessarily connected with the ‘Immigrant Experience’.