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GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature


New Specification Year 10 commencing September 2015






Throughout Year 10 and 11 students study for two GCSE qualifications – one in English Language and one in English Literature. Both GCSEs are 100% terminal exam. Each GCSE requires students to sit two exams – four in total.

Qualification will be graded 9 to 1 – with 9 being the highest grade (like an A*) and 1 the lowest (like a grade G)


50% of the GCSE tests reading unseen texts from 19th, 20th and 21st century 50% of the GCSE tests writing – of which, 20% is SPAG so technical accuracy in the exam is vital

GCSE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PAPER 1 1 hour 45 minutes (40%) GCSE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PAPER 2 2 hours (60%)
  Section A Unseen 19th century fiction – the extract will be approximately 650 words long and students will answer questions about it

24 marks

Section B Creative writing – imaginative writing linked to the theme of the text in Section A…a choice of 2 questions.   Students will be assessed on how well they write for purpose and audience (i.e. imagine / explore / entertain) and SPAG will be assessed too!

40 marks

  Section A Comparison of two unseen texts from the 20th and 21st century – one non-fiction and one literary non-fiction (i.e. autobiography) Shorter questions will ask students to focus on close reading of the texts; longer questions will ask students to compare the two texts.

56 marks

Section B Transactional writing linked to theme in Section A – students will be asked to write a letter or a newspaper report.   Students will be assessed on how well they write for the specified purpose and audience (i.e. imagine / explore / entertain) and SPAG will be assessed too!

40 marks


Spoken Language Endorsement   This will be a presentation on a topic chosen by the students to an audience. Students will answer questions at the end of their presentation. It will be recorded and sent to the exam board.   Students will be given either a pass, merit or distinction – this will appear on their GCSE certificate.




GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE Paper 1 1 hour and 45 minutes (50%)   GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE Paper 2 2 hours and 15 minutes (50%)
Section A   Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice Answer two questions – one based on an extract from the play; one about the play as a whole

40 marks

Section A   19th Century Fiction – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens Answer two questions – one based on a 400 word extract from the novel; one about the novel as a whole

40 marks

Section B   Post 1914 Prose – Animal Farm Answer one essay style question about the text (from a choice of two)   SPAG is assessed when you write your essay

40 marks

(8 of which are SPAG!)

Section B   Poetry – Edexcel Poetry Anthology – study of 15 poems Answer one question – named poem (printed for the students) and comparison with another poem the students have studied

20 marks

Poetry – two contemporary unseen poems printed for you in the exam paper. You compare the two poems, looking at language, structure and themes

20 marks


Note: no books are allowed in the exam room!




Studying GCSE English Language and GSCE English Literature will help you to prepare for further education and the world of work. The reading, writing and oral communication skills covered by the course will make you an accurate and effective writer, an independent and perceptive reader and a fluent and confident speaker. You will study towards two qualifications in your English lessons.



 Unit 1: English Today  Controlled assessment in school 1)   Response to reading (on screen or on paper)2)   Writing task – express ideas and information clearly and accurately  Unit 1: Understanding Prose External exam – 1 hour 45 minutes 1) Literary Heritage prose text – Animal Farm2) Prose text from different culture and tradition – Of Mice and Men
 Unit 2: The Writer’s Voice External exam – 1 hour and 45 minutes 1)   Reading response to prose – analysing the writers’ choices of language / structure and its effects – Of Mice and Men2)   Writing task for different audiences and purposes  Unit 2: Understanding PoetryExternal exam – 1 hour 30 minutes 1)   Response to unseen poem2)   Response to one themed collection of poems from an anthology provided by the exam board
 Unit 3: Spoken Language (40%)Controlled assessment in school
  • Three speaking and listening tasks assessed by your teacher (individual / small group / drama focused)
  • Analysing spoken language – watching video clips of speakers and commenting on the language they use
  • Writing for the spoken voice – for example, a speech or a podcast

Unit 3: Shakespeare and Contemporary Drama Controlled assessment in school1)   One Shakespeare play – The Merchant of Venice2)   One contemporary drama text – A Streetcar Named Desire    

The GCSE English Language and English Literature courses will help you to appreciate the power of language in society and the value of being able to understand and use it effectively. Learn how to make words work for you and at the same time achieve two GCSE grades!

Exam Board: EDEXCEL