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90854: Form personal responses to independently read text, supported by evidence

Updated May 2014. This document has been updated in its entirety to address new issues that have arisen from moderation.

Selection of texts

90854 requires students to read texts that are at curriculum level 6. This is the level of the texts themselves. This means that children’s texts, novels and short stories commonly taught in junior programmes are not suitable selections. Searches of major public library catalogues will frequently provide a reading age for texts. Those texts categorised as ‘children’s’ are not suitable.

Students must select texts independently. Class novels, short stories, poetry, etc. cannot be included. Texts studied in previous years and in other subjects also cannot be included. Students may respond to a film shown, but not studied, in class. Students must read all written texts by themselves.

Developing personal response

  • Responses need to demonstrate personal engagement rather than close reading of a text.
  • Only one response is required for each text, although students may present viewpoints on two or more aspects of the text. The best responses tend to focus on one main aspect, where this aspect has sufficient scope for depth and engagement with the text.
  • Plot summaries, and lengthy description that is not linked to the response, are not required, and these do not gain any credit.
  • Specific and relevant details from the text are needed to support the explanation of the response. Details can include quotations or specific description, and must be directly linked to the reaction and explanation.
  • Responses need to be text based. Students respond to aspect/s in a text, supported by evidence from the text. The identification of an issue in a text, followed by the student’s opinion/viewpoint on the broad issue itself, does not meet the standard.


Teachers must be confident that the student has independently read all 6 texts. Students must form personal responses to all 6 texts. Teachers must be confident that there is sufficient evidence across all responses that the grade is met. The majority of responses must be at the grade, and the other/s close to that grade boundary.

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