Back to Key Stage 4 Options Visit the Exam Board website

Course Description

GCSE English Language provides vital skills for life and work by developing students’ ability to understand the written word precisely and to communicate their own views with clarity. These skills are relevant in all career paths and essential in many. Indeed, English Language (together with Mathematics) is the most commonly requested qualification for jobs and courses across the country. English Language also equips students for further study at post-16 and university, in a range of different subject areas.

Student Quotes

How will I be assessed?

Students will be assessed on the basis of two untiered (everyone sits the same) exams, taken at the end of year 11. Both exams are worth 50% of the GCSE and are broken up into Section A: Reading and Section B: Writing.

  • Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing (1 hour 45 minutes). This paper requires students to answer a series of questions on a previously unseen modern fiction extract; students will then be asked to produce their own piece of imaginative writing. 
  • Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives (1 hour and 45 minutes). This paper requires students to answer a series of questions on two previously unseen non-fiction texts, one from the 19th century and one from the 21st century; students will then be asked to produce their own piece of non-fiction writing. 

There is also a separate ‘Spoken Language Endorsement’, in which students will deliver a presentation to their teachers and answer some questions, assessed in class throughout years 10 and 11. Students are required to complete this component, however, it does not count towards the final GCSE grade.

What will I learn?

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)

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

What could I do next?

GCSE English is important for all students no matter the path they follow after year 11. GCSE English Language is a requirement for progression into post-16 courses or apprenticeships.

Most employers will look for good communication skills, both written and spoken, and the ability to read with understanding and insight. Careers using English specifically can include work in media, journalism, proofreading, publishing, advertising, the law, book selling, administration, web design, editorial work, secretarial work, public relations, management, teaching and professional creative writing.