GCSE English Language

GCSE English Language

Exam Boards Covered: AQA, OCR, Edexcel, Educas

As English subject specialists, all our GCSE English teachers are familiar with the new specifications of both the English Language and English Literature courses. Exam boards have moved away from course work related tasks; that accrue marks towards the final grade. They now prefer a linear approach, where a final set of exams are taken after two years of study to determine the grade a child achieves.

The changes to GCSE English Language can be summarised as follows:-

  • Linear approach, of a set of final exams sat at the end of two years, with the course work element being phased out.
  • The new specification assesses spelling, punctuation and grammar skills of the child as part of the technical accuracy element of the assessment objectives (AO).
  • A new grading structure from 9 to 1, with fewer marks at the lower grades and more marks at the higher grades.

Topics Covered in GCSE English Language

GCSE English language aims to develop a pupil’s writing skills, their ability to write for impact and their capacity to produce clear and coherent written texts. Furthermore, pupils are taught to read fluently and write effectively, demonstrate confident control of Standard English forms and write grammatically correct sentences. They will be shown how to confidently employ figurative language and analyse texts.

GCSE English Language requires candidates to read and be assessed on responses to challenging texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Each text will represent a substantial piece of writing, making significant demands on pupils in terms of content, structure and language.

The examined texts, across a range of genres and types, will support pupils in developing their own writing through the provision of effective models. The texts studied will include literature and extended literary non-fiction, and other writing such as essays, reviews and journalism, from both printed and online sources.

Pupils will build upon familiarity with a range of fiction and non-fiction texts and engage with creative as well as real writing contexts. Pupils will be given opportunities to develop sophisticated reading and critical thinking skills that encourage genuine enquiry into different topics and themes.

Structure of the GCSE English Language Exam Papers

The exam for each exam boards generally comprises two exam papers.

Reading and Writing skills are typically weighted equally and assessed across the two examination papers:

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing


Section A – Reading: Pupils will answer questions on an unseen extract from a literature fiction text.

Section B – Writing: Pupils are given a writing task, from a piece of descriptive or narrative writing.

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives


Section A – Reading: Pupils will be asked to compare an unseen non-fiction text with an unseen literary non-fiction text.

Section B – Writing: As part of an extended writing task, pupils are asked to produce writing to present a viewpoint.

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