Selecting evidence from a text

Home learning focus

To understand how to correctly select evidence from a text.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you learn how to correctly select evidence from a text

  • three activities


Watch this short clip to learn how to support a point you are trying to make with quotations and evidence from a text.

Learn how to support your points with direct quotations or examples from a text.

When analysing a text, it is important to:

  • use evidence from a text to prove your point

  • select relevant and direct quotations to support your idea

  • expand on your idea and explain the meaning of the quotation

Before selecting a quotation to prove a point, think about what makes it relevant. A relevant quotation demonstrates your idea - it should be closely connected to the point you are making.

If you were trying to show a character and an element of their personality, you may do something like this:

Raphael seems sneaky because he took a map of the city and slipped it down his shorts rather than share his find with others.

By using the specific quotation, slipped it down, selected from the text, shows that you have looked at part of the text, considered the language and used it to form a view of the character.

Watch the following clip to consider the need to focus in on small sections, or even individual words, when trying to prove a point.

Learn strategies to help you understand unfamiliar vocabulary.

It can help to look at the parts of a sentence before and after a word. Focusing on whether a word is used as a noun, verb or an adjective can give a clue to its meaning and therefore help you to form an explanation.

The rest of the sentence will also give other clues. For example, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles:

Somewhere there, on that desolate plain, was lurking this fiendish man, hiding in a burrow like a wild beast, his heart full of malignancy against the whole race which had cast him out.

There are several words in the example that may be unfamiliar. Take malignancy, for instance. The words around it suggest that it means something negative. They imply that the heart of the man is full of something against people who have been cruel to him.


Activity 1

Check your understanding. Complete this short quiz on selecting evidence from a text.

Activity 2

Read the extract below taken from Lord of the Flies by William Golding and select 3-5 quotations. Write down your answers on a piece of paper. These quotations should match the criteria below:

  • A quote that suggests something about the boy.

    • What does it suggest?

    • How can you tell?

  • A quote that suggests that the environment is warm, to the point of it being uncomfortable.

    • How does the quote do this?
  • A quote suggesting that something is wrong.

    • What does your quote suggest?

    • Why?

The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.

“Hi!” it said. “Wait a minute!” The undergrowth at the side of the scar was shaken and a multitude of raindrops fell pattering.

Top tip

  • You should try to consider how the language gives you clues to the right quotation.

  • Try to pick out key words and read around them to help you find the best quote.


If you are aiming to find a quotation to suggest that the mood is tense, you may look at the quote:

'The undergrowth at the side of the scar was shaken and a multitude of raindrops fell pattering'.

The verb shaken here indicates that things are not as they should be. Shaken indicates that things have been disturbed, which may tell us the character is not safe.

Activity 3

Read the extract below taken from The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge and identify the quote that creates a sense of uneasiness.

The boat moved with a nauseous, relentless rhythm, like someone chewing on a rotten tooth. The islands just visible through the mist also looked like teeth, Faith decided.

  • Which word in the quote best shows uneasiness?

    • Why?

Read the extract below and identify the quote that creates a sense of fragility in the old man.

He supported himself by a single crutch, his eyes were covered by a shade, and his lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth. He made straight for an arm-chair on the opposite side of the table, sat down clumsily, and began to cough.

  • Which word or words best show that the old man is fragile?

    • Why did you choose these words?

Write your answers on a piece of paper.

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt how to correctly select evidence from a text.

Here is another useful article on Bitesize to help you.

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