The Test

story by Tom Brennan , illustrated by Peter Cheong

Learning intentions:

I am learning to consider a point of view that is not depicted in a text so that I can build an understanding of the reasoning and motivations of different characters.


Success criteria:

  • I can locate textual evidence to explain my observations about characters in a story
  • I can consider how different characters may have made decisions based on their own beliefs and priorities
  • I can apply my own beliefs and priorities to a scenario from the text and explains my choices


Essential knowledge:

Information about recognising and creating imagery can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View.


After reading the story, have students reread the following excerpt and discuss its meaning:

‘The Sthenons still don’t trust us. They set great store in caring for animals. So, to test us out, they occasionally plant one of their pets on our ships.’

‘They set us up?’ Paul’s dad asked.

‘If the crew takes care of the pet, then the Sthenons still trade with us. If not…’


Discuss the meaning of this excerpt and how it relates to the title of the story. Ensure that students understand that ‘The Test’ refers to the Sthenons setting up Paul’s family for a test to decide whether or not they would do business with them. The test was to check if their pet would be treated well because kindness to animals is very important to the Sthenons, and they passed the test because Paul was kind to the kirett and looked after him.


Ask students to find textual evidence of Paul’s kindness towards the kirett. Answers may include:

  • The kirett ate root vegetables, so Paul saved his food and asked for more.
  • The kirett was getting bored, so Paul hid him in his jacket and took him for walks.
  • He worried about the kirett when it was hiding because of all the dangers on the ship.

Explain that although the story is a third person narrative, the story explores the experience and point of view of Paul and his family. Discuss what the Sthenons point of view may have been when they were deciding on the test and how they may have come to make decisions to put it into action.

Ask students to think about the things that are important to them and what qualities they look for in others. Explain that this may include kindness, honesty, fairness or a sense of humour. Write a list of student answers on the board for them to refer to later in the lesson.


Write a scenario on the board, such as:

You are going to start your own small business and you need to find a business partner to work with. You decide to come up with a way to test people who want the position based on one quality that is extremely important to you.

Explain to students that their small business can be anything they decide, such as cupcake making or dog walking. The most important point is they need to decide on what the personal quality is that they are choosing and how they would test if someone has it. Ensure the students understand that the test should not be one that is unkind in any way to their potential business partner but is merely to give them an idea if they are well-matched in their qualities.


Students should write a sentence about their business, the personal quality they are choosing and why, as well as the way they would test the person. To model an example, choose a student to suggest a personal quality to the class, then discuss how they might test if someone has it. Based on this discussion, write an example on the board such as:

I would like to start a business washing cars. I need to find a business partner who is reliable because people will be booking in their cars for us to wash and I won’t be able to do them all on my own. To test the person’s reliability, I would make a plan with them to meet on a Saturday morning and each deliver 50 advertising fliers. I would make sure that their delivery route includes my grandparents’ house and my cousin’s house. This way I can be sure that they are going to show up at the agreed time and I will be able to check that they reliably completed the job.

Students should write their own paragraph in their books.