GCSE Information

All GCSE students will be following the AQA Specification for both English Language and English Literature. All GCSE English courses from 2016 will be following  new specifications, with no coursework or other assessments part from exams at the end of year 11.

There are four exams in total, two for each English GCSE.

Here is a brief overview of the four exams:

Download this image here: Visual Overview of GCSE

Here’s a little bit more information about each exam:

English Language Paper One: The Fiction Paper (50% of language grade)

  • The first half of this paper tests reading. Students will answer 4 questions in total, testing their ability to read and understand a piece of fiction, normally an extract from a novel or story.
  • The four questions test different skills. These include analysing a writer’s choice of language, explaining how writer’s structure their ideas and exploring how writers make create drama, suspense and exciting.
  • The second half of the paper tests writing. Students will write either a short narrative or descriptive piece of writing. They will be marked on their ability to write accurately and creatively.

Example Paper to download: AQA-87001-SQP Paper 1

English Language Paper Two: The Non-Fiction paper (50% of Language Grade)

  • Similarly to paper one, the first half of the paper tests reading. The main differences are that this time students will read two texts which are both non-fiction, and one of these texts will date from the 1800s.
  • There are still four questions. This time students will be asked to analyse the use of language from the 19th century text, summarise the differences between the two texts and compare the attitudes and values presented in the two texts from different time periods.
  • Like paper one, the second half of the paper tests writing. this time students will write a non-fiction piece, where they present their point of view on a certain topic. Again, students are tested on how well they shape their writing for a specific purpose, as well as the accuracy of their writing.

Example paper to download: AQA-87002-SQP Paper 2

English Literature Paper One: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel (40% of language grade):

  • Students will answer two essay questions.
  • The first essay question will be on Romeo and Juliet and the second essay question will be on The Sign Of Four
  • Each easy tests the same skills, asking the students to show their understanding of a key character or a key theme across the whole of the play / novel.

Example paper to download: AQA-87021-SQP-Paper 1

English Literature Paper Two: Modern Texts and Poetry (60% of GCSE)

  • This paper is longer and worth more marks than paper one, but is divided into three equal sections
  • Section one asks students to answer a question on a key character or theme in Blood Brothers.
  • Section two asks students to write an essay comparing two poems they have already studied. But, unlike in previous years, they will not have a copy of all these poems in front of them. A full list of the poems we study is available on the ‘year 10 poetry’ page.
  • Section three tests students ability to read and respond to ‘unseen’ poems that they have not studied or encountered before.

Example paper to download: AQA-87022-SQP Paper 2

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