To Build a Fire - A Higher Level Examination

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Dear Teacher,

I have never been particularly proficient at promoting the positives of poetry (although I can still whip up some fine alliteration when called upon). The teachers who can discuss poetry well have a flair for it. For them it is a gift that allows them to teach figurative language in an entertaining fashion.

I, on the other hand, have not been blessed with such talent and have taken a different direction when it comes to helping my students understand the application of literary terminology. I teach it through prose which is a literary form that most of my students warm to much more than verse. Thus far - through the novels SLOB and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I’ve been able to gain very positive results, so now I’m turning the same approach to my short story collection.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of short story tests that incorporate an examination of figurative language through literature. My purpose in creating this testing series is twofold: to offer up a series of tests that my fellow teachers could use for differentiation purposes or one which could be used for advanced or upper class-men. I call it a “Higher Level Examination” because the objective of these short story tests is to make students think harder about what they might dismiss as a fairly straightforward storyline. They also serve to reinforce all of the literary terminology we have taught our students and to provide those same students with a practical application for that knowledge.

This packet you might purchase contains the following:

a test for the short story with an A and B version
Jack London’s story
a list of literary terms and definitions that students need to know to complete the exercise

Hopefully, the examples that I offer you for each of these items indicated above will provide you with a clear idea of their quality and use.

The set-up for Higher Level Short Story Tests

Like my regular short stories (My TPT site provides twenty-some short story tests, several of which are free.), the exam starts out with story order questions (to gauge their ability to follow the plot line) and true or false questions (to check whether they are paying attention to details).

Following this page, each of the tests contain ten inference questions that require the student to think more deeply behind the motivations and actions of the characters within the book. What follows this are ten questions for discerning vocabulary meaning through context and, finally, ten more problems that obligate the students to apply the literary terms they must know before they even begin the tests.

I have separated literary terms and vocabulary exam pages from another because some of you might want students to work with source material and some of you might not. For myself, I don’t allow my students to go into the book to examine the text for literary terms questions, but I do allow them to use the source for the vocabulary. portion. The choice will probably come down to the level of the students you are working with.

A and B Versions

I believe that teachers should do more to prevent cheating on any examination, and so all of my tests and quizzes within this collection have two versions. I hope you will find this beneficial.


Each of the tests has forty-five questions, but allow for more points to be scored in each section. This means that the testing system has its own built in extra credit.

Knowing Your Terminology

To be able to complete the tests, the students need to know their literary terminology. Without this knowledge they will not be successful when it comes to the use of figurative language. You could allow the students to use these the literary terms pages that I included in this packet as they take the test or compel them to have the knowledge in their minds and at their command as I do.

PLEASE NOTE: I have a series of tests and quizzes specifically geared towards these literary terms that can be purchased on TPT.

In my classes, all of the terms on the lists must be memorized before we begin any novel, poetry or short story work. The analogy I provide my students with is that it is much like fixing a car with another mechanic. You can’t begin to figure out the problem unless both of you agree on what the parts of the engine are named. For this reason each of the two groupings (Literary Terms #1 and Literary Terms #2) has a preparatory quiz to be followed a test.

The tests are much like the quizzes in that the students must be able to match up the definitions with their corresponding word, but the tests ask the students to provide the literary term to a sentence that completes the thought.

Additional Literary Terms

For my classes I wanted a list of terms that could not only be applied when we were studying prose and poetry, but also when we are examining the writings of other; thus, you will see the terms e.g. (exempli gratia), i.e. (id est), etc. (et cetera), et al (et alia) and [sic] (sic erat scriptum). Too often our students see these words but have no understanding of their meaning because no one takes the time to explain it to them. Even more importantly, teachers don’t point out how the students could be utilizing them in their own writing to better explain themselves to others.

Word or Adobe

In the Teachers Pay Teachers system I must send all of this to you in Adobe format, but please don’t hesitate to write and request the Word version so that you can make whatever changes you would like in my format.


Mike Harper
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To Build a Fire - A Higher Level Examination
To Build a Fire - A Higher Level Examination
To Build a Fire - A Higher Level Examination
To Build a Fire - A Higher Level Examination
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