Personal Study

After the 2010 exam, the Personal Study will no longer be a part of the formal Higher or Intermediate English courses though it may still be studied as a separate unit. As such the outline below is for information only unless you wish to complete the Personal Study in addition to the actual exam couse.

The Personal Study was – until the exam in 2010 –  one of the four internal assessments in the Higher and Intermediate English courses.

It can now be studied as a separate unit.

You will be expected to write an essay on your chosen text under exam conditions in class. You may have two sides of A4 notes and a copy of the text(s) with you. The assessment lasts for one hour.

The text(s) chosen will not be taught in class nor may you choose a text you have studied in class previously. (You can and should seek your teacher’s advice, however.)

The Personal Study should contain your own ideas.

You choose your own topic rather than being given a set question.

You should concentrate on a particular aspect of the novel rather than trying to write a general book review.

The best Personal Study generally sets out to prove a point.

The more specific the chosen task, the more productive the Personal Study tends to be.

You should discuss the author’s style rather than concentrating only on the content of the text.


Choice of text

The majority of candidates choose to write about a novel for their Personal Study. You may, however, choose from a wide range of literary texts and genres including drama, short stories, non-fiction etc. (See below for novel suggestions.)

When you are making your choice keep the following in mind:

  • You cannot choose a text you have previously studied in class
  • Do not choose an abridged or simplified text.
  • Avoid authors such as James Herbert, Danielle Steele, John Grisham etc. A good read does not necessarily equal a good Personal Study.
  • The text should have sufficient depth of content and style to make you think about the issues and/or characters it contains.
  • The text may deal with a particular theme that interests you. Your teacher and/or the librarian will be able to recommend relevant texts.
  • Keep an open mind and consider both classic writers of the past as well as present day authors.
  • You may be inspired by a film or television adaptation to read the original book but avoid the “book-of-the-film”.



 (The following list is by no means exhaustive. You should also look at the books recommended in the column to the left under Senior Fiction.)

  • ACHEBE, Chinua:        Things Fall Apart
  • ANDERSON, Rachel:  The War Orphan
  • ANGELOU, Maya:      I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
  • ATWOOD, Margaret:  Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale
  • AUSTEN, Jane:   Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and  Sensibility,Mansfield Park, Emma
  • BANKS, Iain:       The Wasp Factory, Espedair Street, Dead Air
  • BARKER, Pat:      The Ghost Road, Regeneration
  • BEAR, Greg:                Eon (Science Fiction)
  • BLACKMAN, Malorie: Noughts and Crosses
  • BRADBURY, Ray:      Fahrenheit 451
  • BRONTE, Charlotte:    Jane Eyre
  • BRONTE, Emily:          Wuthering Heights
  • BROOKMYRE, Christopher: quite ugly one morning
  • BURGESS, Melvin:      Junk
  • CAPOTE, Truman:       Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • CHAUDHURI, Amit:   Freedom Song 
  • CORMIER, Robert:     Fade, The Rag and Bone Shop
  • De BERNIERES, Louis: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
  • DESAI, Anita:              Fasting, Feasting
  • DESAI, Kiran : Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
  • DICKENS, Charles:     Bleak House, Great Expectations, A Tale of  Two Cities etc.
  • DOYLE, Roddy:Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha,The Commitments, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
  • DU MAURIER, Daphne: Rebecca
  • ELIOT, George:           Silas Mariner
  • FAULKS, Sebastian:    Birdsong
  • FOWLES, John:           The Collector, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  • FRAZIER, Charles:      Cold Mountain
  • GAARDNER, Jostein: Sophie’s World
  • GALLOWAY, Janice: The Trick is to Keep Breathing
  • GARLAND, Alex:        The Beach
  • GAVIN, Jamila:            Coram Boy
  • GOLDEN, Arthur:        Memories of a Geisha
  • GOLDING, William:    Lord of the Flies
  • GRAHAM, Maggie:     Sitting Among the Eskimos
  • GUNN, Neil:                The Silver Darlings
  • HADDON, Mark:        The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  • HARDY, Thomas:        Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Return of the Native etc.
  • HELLER, Joseph:         Catch 22
  • HILL, Susan:                The Woman in Black
  • ISHIGURO, Kurosawa: The Remains of the Day
  • JAMES, Henry:            The Turn of the Screw etc.
  • JENKINS, Robin:        The Changeling, The Cone Gatherers
  • JOHNSON, Catherine: Other Colours
  • JORDAN, Sherryl:       The Raging Quiet
  • KEANEY, Brian:         Bitter Fruit
  • KEITH, Lois:               A Different Life
  • KESEY, Ken:              One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • KESSON, Jessie:         White Bird Passes
  • KEYES, Daniel:           Flowers for Algernon
  • KLASS, David:            You Don’t Know Me, The Braves
  • LEE, Harper:                To Kill a Mockingbird
  • MACLAVERTY, Bernard:   Cal, Grace Notes
  • MCCOURT, Frank:     Angela’s Ashes
  • MCEWAN, Ian:           The Child in Time, Enduring Love
  • MCILVANNEY, William:  Laidlaw
  • MORRISON, Toni:      Tar Baby
  • MURRAY, Millie:        Sorelle
  • ONDAATJE, Michael: The English Patient
  • ORWELL, George:      1984, Animal Farm
  • PAISLEY, Janet:          Not For Glory
  • PARSONS, Tony:        Man and Boy
  • PASTERNAK, Boris:  Dr. Zhivago
  • RANKIN, Ian:             Tooth and Nail, Black and Blue
  • SALINGER, J.D.:        Catcher in the Rye
  • SARO-WIWA, Ken:   Lemona’s Tale
  • SCOTT, Sir Walter:     Rob Roy
  • SEBOLD, Alice:           The Lovely Bones
  • SIMPSON, Joe:           Touching the Void
  • SPENCE, Alan:            The Magic Flute
  • SYAL, Meera:             Anita and Me
  • TARTT, Donna:           The Secret History
  • TURGENEV, Ivan:      First Love
  • WALKER, Alice:         The Color Purple
  • WELLS, H.G.: The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine
  • WINTERSON, Jeanette: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

 Most of these books are available in the school library.

Further suggestions:

Links to suggested reading for Int 1 and Int 2 are now available via the library’s Searchstar catalogue. Link icons are smiley faces at the bottom of the screen.

If you have read and enjoyed a book, why not recommend it to the librarian, your teacher and to others? Better still, why not write a review for this site?






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