GCSE English is a subject that all UK students know about, and that all UK students will have to sit exams for. However, ‘English’ is a broad subject. How important actually is it compared to the rest of your GCSEs? Is GCSE more than 1 exam, or worth more than 1 GCSE? For many UK students, the answer to these questions can be unclear.
GCSE English is worth 2 different GCSEs; English Language and English Literature are considered separate GCSEs and you will sit different exams for them. This is because each English GCSE teaches you different skills and cover different aspects of English.
Despite the fact that GCSE English Language and English Literature are separate, they are often studied at the same time. This can be confusing as to what is involved in each exam. To find out more, read the rest of the article.
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What is GCSE English worth?
There are two English GCSEs, English Language and English Literature. When you receive your GCSE results, you will be awarded a separate grade for English Language and for English Literature. English Language and English Literature are both part of English as a subject; despite this, they are regarded as entirely different from one another.
The main reason why English is worth 2 GCSEs is because the study of language and literature involve different skills. This is why most students find they are better at one side of English GCSE than the other. However, all of the skills involved in English Language and English Literature are considered valuable, so are worth 2 separate GCSEs.
To the individual student, one English GCSE might be worth more than the other. Higher education institutions and employers also value both English GCSEs differently too. For more details, keep reading.
Do English Language and Literature GCSEs matter?
Both English Language and Literature GCSEs are incredibly important. English Language is valued by all education institutions as well as employers. On the other hand, English Literature is highly valued by universities and skilled employment. Both English GCSEs matter as much as GCSE Maths and GCSE Science, which is why they are part of the “Big 3” GCSEs.
English Language is important because it teaches you the “fundamental” aspects of English, such as reading, writing and speech. English Literature is important because it teaches you critical thinking skills, like analysis, interpretation and inference. All these skills are important for future education and career plans, whatever they may be.
All GCSEs require a minimum of Grade 4 to pass. However, you aren’t actually required to pass all your GCSEs, though it is highly recommended that you pass as many as possible. If you’re unsure as to whether you need to pass GCSE English Language and English Literature, you can read more in this Think Student article.
Do you need both English Language and Literature GCSEs?
GCSE English Language is compulsory in all schools across the UK. If you want to find out more about the compulsory GCSEs, you can do so in this Think Student article. On the other hand, not all schools across the UK actually offer GCSE English Literature. If your school teaches GCSE English Literature, it is compulsory.
Is GCSE English Language or English Literature more important?
Depending on your plans for the future, the value of English GCSEs may change. For example, if you want to attend university or enter a competitive field such as Medicine or Law, English Literature might be as valuable as English Language. More information on the importance of GCSEs can be found in this article by Success at School.
All higher education and employment institutions require you to pass English Language GCSE. Most education institutions or employers will expect you to have passed English Literature GCSE, though it is technically not required. If you want to know more about which English GCSE is more important, this Think Student article has more details.
Are English Language and Literature separate GCSEs?
English Language and English Literature GCSEs are distinctly separate from each other. While they both fall under English as a subject, the skills you need for each exam are very different. The process of studying both English GCSEs is often integrated, but it can be helpful to treat them both as entirely different GCSEs when revising for your exams.
Content in each English GCSE is the core reason behind the separation of English GCSE into Language and Literature. If you want to find out more about the differences between English Language and English Literature GCSEs, you can check out this EdPlace article.
How many GCSE English papers are there?
For all UK exam boards, there are 2 English Language and 2 English Literature GCSE exam papers. However, the content and structure of each exam is dependent on your exam board. It’s important to check with your school which exam board your centre uses. Specifications for each exam board can be found on their respective websites if you want all the details on your GCSE English exams.
Even though each exam board has individual specification, there are some similarities across all papers. Continue reading to find out more.
What are the GCSE English Language papers like?
Individual exam board specifications are more diverse in English Language than in English Literature. This means it’s definitely important to know which exam board your school follows. Regardless, the content is usually split into 3 units: Oracy (speech), Non-Fiction Reading and Writing, and Fiction Reading and Writing.
All exam boards will expect you to complete an oral presentation as part of GCSE English Language, typically in the form of a speech in front of your class and teacher. This unit has 3 different grades: Pass, Merit, and Distinction. While you won’t receive a separate GCSE for this, the grade is separate from your GCSE English Language grade on your GCSE certificate.
For the Non-Fiction unit, you will generally be expected to study unseen non-fiction texts and write about them. This is to test your reading skills. You will also be asked to write a non-fiction piece of your own during the exam. This is the same for the Fiction unit, but with Fiction texts, and a piece of creative (fiction) writing. Again, the details of each exam depend on the exam board, so you should check the exam board’s website if you’re unsure.
English Language can be hard for many students, even harder if English isn’t your first language. If you’re receiving help from your school but want a few extra tips to help you revise for GCSE English Language, you can check out this Think Student article.
What are the English Literature GCSE papers like?
All exam boards follow a similar structure when it comes to GCSE English Literature. The content is split into 3 or 4 units: Shakespeare, Poetry, 19th Century Novel, and Post-1914 Drama or Prose These units are split into 2 exams: one paper focusing on Poetry and a Post-1914 Drama or Prose, and the other paper focusing on Shakespeare and a 19th Century Novel.
Your school is given a list of set texts by the exam board, so which texts you study are specific to your school. This will be/have been made clear to you by your school before you begin/began studying for your GCSEs. Popular texts chosen for GCSEs include An Inspector Calls, Macbeth, and A Christmas Carol, but your school may not study these. You will also study poetry from an anthology created by the exam board your centre uses.
GCSE English Literature is often seen by students as harder than Language. This is because you won’t be allowed to have your texts in the exam, so you need to memorise key quotes. For revision tips for GCSE English Literature, see this Think Student article.
What exam board is GCSE English?
GCSE English isn’t set by 1 national exam board, but rather standardised by 5 different boards. These are AQA, OCR, Edexcel, CCEA (mainly Northern Ireland), and WJEC. Your school will follow the English GCSE specification of 1 exam board, and you will sit the exams standardised by that exam board.
If you don’t know which exam board your school uses for GCSE English, you can ask your teacher. It can be helpful to look at the website of the exam board your school uses for GCSE English. Exam board websites offer information about the course as well as revision materials like past papers.
Is there a GCSE English foundation paper?
There is no GCSE English foundation exam. The GCSE English Language and English Literature exams are designed to suit the reading, writing, and speech abilities of all students at a passing grade level. Even though the content and structure of the GCSE English exams vary between schools and exam boards, they are considered equal in difficulty.