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GCSE English Exam Information

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Hello everyone,

Today I’d like to talk to you about one of the most important subjects GCSE exams: English Literature.

If you enjoy reading books at the age of 14 then you are 1-0 ahead. You will be a passionate reader for the rest of your life.

Being a passionate reader is not the only thing that will help you to succeed on this course though. If you like to express your views or if you have a creative imagination, then studying English can really enhance these skills.

For GCSE level you will neither be expected to read entire texts on your own, nor all at once. You may be assigned a few chapters to read at home, so that you can be prepared to answer questions about them and participate in discussions during lessons at school and with your tutors, but you will also be given time in class to do some quiet reading.

Strong candidates in English are typically good at noticing small details in writing and at constructing powerful responses to questions concerning their studied texts.

GCSE exams in English include questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to: draw together their knowledge, skills and understanding from across the full course of study.

Here in Medway most of the secondary schools use AQA Examination Board for GCSE English exams.

There will be 2 different papers both for English Language and English Literature.

English Literature paper contexts are as following:

· Paper 1: Shakespeare & the 19th Century Novel is 40% of the total marks. The exam is 1 Hour and 45 Minutes and is 64 Marks.

· Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry is 60% of the total marks. The exam is 2 Hours and 15 Minutes and is 96 Marks and the course materials cover the Power and Conflict cluster of poems.

Paper 1:

Students will study one of Shakespeare’s plays from the list of six set texts. Students should study the whole text.

Choose one of:

· Macbeth

· Romeo and Juliet

· The Tempest

· The Merchant of Venice

· Much Ado About Nothing

· Julius Caesar.

Students will study one novel from the list of seven set texts. Students should study the whole text.

Choose one of

Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations

Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Sign of Four

Paper 2:

Students will study one from a choice of 12 set texts, which include post-1914 prose fiction and drama. Students should study the whole text.

Choose one of:


JB Priestley - An Inspector Calls

Willy Russell - Blood Brothers

Alan Bennett - The History Boys

Dennis Kelly - DNA

Simon Stephens - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play script)

Shelagh Delaney - A Taste of Honey


William Golding - Lord of the Flies

AQA Anthology - Telling Tales

George Orwell - Animal Farm

Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go

Meera Syal - Anita and Me

Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English


Students will study one cluster of poems taken from the AQA poetry anthology, Poems Past and Present. There is a choice of two clusters, each containing 15 poems. The poems in each cluster are thematically linked and were written between 1789 and the present day.

The titles of the two clusters are:

· Love and relationships

· Power and conflict

Students should study all 15 poems in their chosen cluster and be prepared to write about any of them in the examination.

Unseen poetry

In preparing for the unseen poetry section of the examination students should experience a wide range of poetry in order to develop their ability to closely analyse unseen poems. They should be able to analyse and compare key features such as their content, theme, structure and use of language.

The English Language GCSE is assessed by 2 written papers which make up your final mark. You will also undertake an Oral Presentation for which the Mark will be awarded separately.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

Section A: Reading 40 marks 25% of GCSE

• unseen extract from a literature fiction text

Section B: Writing 40 marks 25% of GCSE

• 1 extended writing task – descriptive or narrative writing Method of Assessment • written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

Section A: Reading 40 marks 25% of GCSE

• Comparison of one unseen non-fiction text and one unseen literary non-fiction text

Section B: Writing 40 marks 25% of GCSE

• 1 extended writing task – writing to present a viewpoint Method of assessment • written exam: 1 hour 45 minutes

This GCSE specification in English Language will require students to study the following content:

Critical reading and comprehension

· critical reading and comprehension: identifying and interpreting themes, ideas and information in a range of literature and other high-quality writing; reading in different ways for different purposes, and comparing and evaluating the usefulness, relevance and presentation of content for these purposes; drawing inferences and justifying these with evidence; supporting a point of view by referring to evidence within the text; identifying bias and misuse of evidence, including distinguishing between statements that are supported by evidence and those that are not; reflecting critically and evaluatively on text, using the context of the text and drawing on knowledge and skills gained from wider reading; recognising the possibility of different responses to a text

· summary and synthesis: identifying the main theme or themes; summarising ideas and information from a single text; synthesising from more than one text

· evaluation of a writer’s choice of vocabulary, form, grammatical and structural features: explaining and illustrating how vocabulary and grammar contribute to effectiveness and impact, using linguistic and literary terminology accurately to do so and paying attention to detail; analysing and evaluating how form and structure contribute to the effectiveness and impact of a text

· comparing texts: comparing two or more texts critically with respect to the above.


· producing clear and coherent text: writing effectively for different purposes and audiences: to describe, narrate, explain, instruct, give and respond to information, and argue; selecting vocabulary, grammar, form, and structural and organisational features judiciously to reflect audience, purpose and context; using language imaginatively and creatively; using information provided by others to write in different forms; maintaining a consistent point of view; maintaining coherence and consistency across a text

· writing for impact: selecting, organising and emphasising facts, ideas and key points; citing evidence and quotation effectively and pertinently to support views; creating emotional impact; using language creatively, imaginatively and persuasively, including rhetorical devices (such as rhetorical questions, antithesis, parenthesis).

Spoken language

· presenting information and ideas: selecting and organising information and ideas effectively and persuasively for prepared spoken presentations; planning effectively for different purposes and audiences; making presentations and speeches

· responding to spoken language: listening to and responding appropriately to any questions and feedback

· spoken Standard English: expressing ideas using Standard English whenever and wherever appropriate.

The exams in Medway will take place in the following dates:


Paper 1: Explorations in creative reading and writing 1h 45m 04 June 2019 am

Paper 2: Writers' viewpoints and perspectives 1h 45m 07 June 2019 am


Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th century novel 1h 45m 15 May 2019 pm

Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry 2h 15m 23 May 2019 am

At HSC Tutoring Medway we our tutors provide any additional help your child may require.

Hope you'll find the pot useful.

Thank you :)

Afsana Hamzayeva

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