Examination Board: AQA Specification A               


Since September 2010, all examination boards have offered three separate qualifications in English at GCSE level: English Language, English Literature and English. 

English GCSE is a single course, offering a range of both language and literature topics, allowing students to demonstrate their use of English in real-life contexts.

English Language plus English Literature (combined) is a fully integrated course which allows for greater distinctiveness between disciplines. This results in the awarding of two separate GCSEs. The Literature element covers modern, global and heritage texts.

For all qualifications there are two tiers of entry: Foundation and Higher. Higher Tier gives access to B grade and above.


Q. How do I know if I have the ability to do English Language plus English Literature?

A. You will need to take your teacher’s and the Head of Department’s advice.  If you enjoy reading and writing essays about plays, poems and novels and have achieved A/B grades in Year 9 then this could be a good choice for you. If you think you might wish to study English Literature at A level this would be a good choice. 


Q. Can I change my mind once I have started in Year 10?

A.  This will be difficult because although the syllabuses for English Language plus English Literature have some common content they do separate out and we will be choosing texts to suit the different sets.


All qualifications involve some Controlled Assessment units, both written and oral. This is worked, planned and executed in lessons, under the direct supervision of the teacher. Work must be kept in school at all times. The teacher will let students know when the final “high control” sessions will take place; they usually last for 3-4 hours and are done in normal lesson time. Written controlled assessments are in essay form. In written units, titles are set by AQA but teachers are free to choose texts that suit their students. In oral units we can also choose tasks that will suit the set, and even the individual student.

GCSE English

Unit 1: Understanding and Producing Non-Fiction Texts

External examination 2 hours 15 mins 40%

  • Section A:      Reading non-fiction
  • Section B:      Writing


Unit 2: Speaking and Listening 20%

Controlled Assessments: individual presentation/in role/group discussion.


Unit 3: Understanding and Producing Creative Texts 40%

  • Controlled Assessment – Literary reading of a play by Shakespeare, a text from the English Literary Heritage and a text from a different culture
  • Controlled Assessment – Writing


GCSE English Language

Unit 1:            same as for GCSE English 40%

Unit 2:            same as for GCSE English 20%

Unit 3:            Understanding Spoken and Written Texts and Writing Creatively 40%

  • Controlled Assessment: Extended Reading: study of a classic novel
  • Controlled Assessment: Creative Writing – 2 pieces
  • Controlled Assessment: Spoken Language Study – an investigative approach to the way oral communication takes place.


GCSE English Literature

Unit 1: Exploring Modern Texts 40%

 External examination 1 hour 45 mins

  • Modern Prose or Drama
  • Exploring Cultures


Unit 2: Poetry Across Time 35%

External examination 1 hour 15 mins

  • Study of themed poems from AQA Anthoology
  • Responding to an Unseen Poem


Unit 3: The Significance of Shakespeare and English Literary Heritage 25%

  • Controlled Assessment – study of a play by Shakespeare, thematically linked to another text.


did you know?

GCSE Pass Rate
GCSE Pass Rate