GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE 

Complete Revision Guide For The Grade 9-1 Exams

Welcome to your guide GCSE English Literature – the complete guide to complement your GCSE Literature learning. This guide can be used alongside the new national curriculum which ensures you are fully prepared for your GCSE English exams.

Your GCSE Literature examination comprises of two sections:

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel
1 hour and 45 minutes
40% of GCSE
Marks out of 64

Paper 2: Modern texts and Poetry
2 hours and 15 minutes
60% of GCSE
Marks out of 96

Assessment Objectives

AO1

AO1 = To read, understand, and respond to literary texts. Students should be able to demonstrate a critical style in their writing, and develop an informed personal response. Students are also required to use contextual references, including quotations in order to support their interpretation.

AO2

AO2 = To analyse the language, form, and structure used by an author and analyse the meaning and context. To ensure relevant terminology is used throughout their assessment.

AO3

AO3 = To show an understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which a piece of text is written.

AO4

AO4 = To use an array of vocabulary and sentence structures in order to provide clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Writing an Exam Answer

Before you do anything, it is important that you read through the questions CAREFULLY.
Allow yourself 10 to 15 minutes to read through the questions and the texts before you begin answering the questions.

Before you read each text, make sure that you have a good understanding about what the question is asking of you. Keep this in mind when you read through the text.

A great way to plan your answer is to highlight any keywords or phrases as you go. Not only will this save time in the long run, but it will allow you to pinpoint key topics that you might want to talk about in your answer.

The Importance of Mind Mapping

Although this comes under note-taking, we think that mind-mapping deserves a mention on its own. Mind-mapping is a fantastic way of planning your answer. It allows you to organise your ideas and link them by themes, motives, language, structure, etc.

By visually representing your notes, this allows you to have a clear focus on how to structure your response. Generally, a central concept appears in the centre of a page, and then other details spread away from it. This is excellent for quickly jotting down all of the information you can remember, and then organising it into sections.

Take a look at the following example:

gcse english literature - othello

As you can see, the mind-map allows you to draw comparisons and make links between different ideas. By organising your notes like this, you will be in a far stronger position to tackle your essay questions in the literature exam.

GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE EXAM

Before you begin preparing for each section of your GCSE English Literature exam, we think it is important that you understand what to expect in terms of subject content, and how to make the most out of your revision time.

Shakespeare

During the Shakespeare section of your English Literature exam, you will be required to answer one question.

Students will study one play within the classroom, and therefore, the choice of question you should answer should be the one you have been focusing on during your English lessons.
In the exam, there will be a choice of six possible Shakespeare plays. The following texts are examples taken from the 2017 examination:

  • Macbeth;
  • Romeo and Juliet;
  • The Tempest;
  • The Merchant of Venice;
  • Much Ado About Nothing;
  • Julius Caesar.
The 19th Century Novel

During the 19th Century novel section of your English Literature exam, you will be required to answer one question.
Students will study one novel within the classroom, so the choice of question you should answer should be the one you have been focusing on during your English lessons.
In the exam, there will be a choice of seven novels.

The following texts are examples taken from the 2017 examination:

  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde;
  • A Christmas Carol;
  • Great Expectations;
  • Jane Eyre;
  • Frankenstein;
  • Pride and Prejudice;
  • The Sign of Four.
Modern Texts

During the modern text section of your English Literature exam, you will be required to answer one question.
Students will study one text within the classroom, so the choice of question you should answer should be the one you have been focusing on during your English lessons.
In the exam, there will be a choice of twelve texts, including post-1914 prose and drama. The following texts are examples taken from the 2017 examination:

PROSE
Author Title
William Golding Lord of the Flies
AQA Anthology Telling Tales
George Orwell Animal Farm
Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go
Meera Syal Anita and Me
Stephen Kelman Pigeon English

DRAMA
Author Title
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
Shelagh Delaney A Taste of Honey

Poetry

During the poetry section of your English Literature exam, you will be required to answer one cluster of poems in the exam.
The poems assessed in the exam will be taken from the AQA poetry anthology, Poems Past and Present.
In the exam, there will be a choice of two clusers, each containing 15 poems. The poems in each cluster are thematically linked.

The themes provided for the 2017 examinations were the following:

  • Love and Relationships;
  • Power and Conflict.

For this section of the exam, students need to study all 15 poems in their chosen cluster and be prepared to write about any of them in the exam.

Unseen Poetry

The unseen poetry section of your English Literature exam is self-explanatory. This section will provide poems of which you will not have studied during your English lessons.
The best way to revise for the unseen poetry section is to experience a wide range of poetry and develop the following analytical skills:

unseen poetry GCSE English Literature

GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE GUIDE CONTENTS

  • This fabulous How2Become GCSE English Literature Revision guide is ideal for students who are studying GCSE English Literature.
  • Discover how to boost your GCSE English Literature grade with this complete guide for of guidance, revision and practice exam-style questions.
  • This revision guide will allow you to practice for each section of the Literature exam, including poetry, prose and drama.
  • Learn how to confidently improve your GCSE English grades with this ULTIMATE GCSE revision guide – tailored to the new 9-1 grading system.

Detailed information about the GCSE English Literature exam

Lots of exam-style practice questions

Easy-to-read format broken down into clear sections

Top tips to help students and parents prepare for exams

Questions for prose, poetry and drama!

Pass your GCSE English the easy way!

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