The dissimilarities between GCSE English Language and Literature may not seem very large. However, these two subjects are actually quite different. This means that some students may be good at English Language but terrible at English Literature and vice versa. This begs the question, which subject is more important? There are mixed opinions about this, as each subject offers different skills and opportunities.
Both GCSE English Language and Literature are very important subjects. They both allow students to think deeply and creatively and gain skills essential in life. However, from a practical perspective, GCSE English Language could be seen as more important. After all, you need to pass this GCSE to study most qualifications! It is not compulsory to pass GCSE English Literature.
However, we want to hear from you which GCSE you think is the most important. Answer this poll if you wish to share your opinion!
If you want to discover why these subjects are both valuable and how they may differ in their importance, carry on reading!
Disclaimer: This article reflects the viewpoint of the student writer. English Language and Literature are equally important subjects. This article just compares their different merits and the conclusion may not reflect your own opinions.
Table of Contents
Why is GCSE English Language important?
One of the greatest skills GCSE English Language will provide you with is the development of the quality of your communication. GCSE English Language teaches you how to articulate your sentences well and communicate your ideas effectively.
This skill will be invaluable in the future, as many jobs require employees to be well practised with this characteristic. GCSE English Language is also important in developing your written communication.
In modern society, you may not need to write letters. However, sending emails is essential in most jobs. Being able to send grammatically correct emails which successfully get information across is another great skill you need for a good career.
GCSE English Language also has a creative element. Therefore, if you are interested in a career in writing such as journalism, or you want to become an author, this is a compulsory subject. If you want to discover why else this subject is important, check out this article from 121 Home Tutors.
If you want to find out more about what the GCSE English Language subject actually entails, check out this article from Think Student.
Why is GCSE English Literature important?
Whereas GCSE English Language focuses more on learning about how to communicate in the future and understanding people in the present, GCSE English Literature focuses on the past.
This is just as important as it allows you to learn about cultural changes and how authors really felt as they lived through times of change. GCSE English Literature allows you to develop critical thinking skills and analytical skills.
It can be difficult to write an English Literature essay due to the skills this task requires. Check out this article from Think Student to discover tips on how to do this.
GCSE English Literature can help with other subjects too. For example, GCSE History is a popular choice to take alongside GCSE English Literature. This is because GCSE English Literature provides you with the critical and analytical thinking skills which are essential in GCSE History.
GCSE English Literature also offers you the chance to be creative. However, it does this through criticising and exploring other people’s work. This is an important skill, especially if you want to pursue a career which involves needing to understand people.
If you want to discover more reasons why GCSE English Literature is important, check out this article from Stonebridge College. Also, if you want to find out more about GCSE English Literature as a whole, check out this article from Think Student.
Is GCSE English Language or GCSE English Literature more important for other subjects?
Overall, GCSE English Language can be seen as more important for all subjects. This is because it provides you with the written and communication skills needed in day to day life.
Therefore, it can even be useful in GCSE Maths, as you still have to be able to articulate yourself to the teacher, even when dealing with numbers! However, GCSE English Literature can be seen as essential for specific types of subjects.
As previously stated, GCSE English Literature is a great subject to study next to History, as it can help you develop skills to make perceptive comments. This is vital for GCSE History.
Similarly, GCSE English Literature can be useful for Philosophy and Ethics or religious studies. Looking at the past and how people used to think make up a lot of the content you will learn. Therefore, the skills you learn in GCSE English Literature would definitely be transferrable.
Finally, GCSE English Literature can be beneficial for A-Level subjects, such as A-Level Politics. As you can see, both English subjects are important. However, GCSE English Literature may be more important for certain subjects in comparison to GCSE English Language.
Do you need to pass GCSE English Language and Literature?
Truthfully, you only really need to pass GCSE English Language in order to get a job and to study in the future. You do not need to pass GCSE English Literature.
Consequently, GCSE English Language can be seen as more important. Therefore, you may want to spend more time preparing for this, as most jobs expect you to have passed GCSE English Language. It is often a compulsory requirement for most jobs and is vital for you to study A-Levels.
This is because GCSE English language prepares you to communicate with people in the future. It can also help you to understand people, which is essential if you want to follow a career such as a social care worker.
If you want to find out how to become a social worker, check out this article from Think Student. GCSE English Literature is also important, as it can help improve your written skills.
However, the skills it offers are not seen as important to employers as the skills that GCSE English Language provides. Therefore, you do not need to pass GCSE English Literature.
What happens if you fail GCSE English Literature but pass GCSE English Language?
Whenever you fail a GCSE, you do have the option to re-sit it if you think that it is compulsory for you to pass it. Therefore, if you do fail GCSE English Literature, you could potentially ask to do the exam again during a different year.
For more information on re-sitting your GCSEs check out this Think Student article.
However, as already stated, it is not compulsory for you to pass GCSE English Literature. This means that if you do fail GCSE English Literature but pass GCSE English Language, you don’t have to do anything at all!
As long as you have your GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths, then your doors are open for a range of jobs! You might only have to re-sit GCSE English Literature if this is a subject you want to pursue in the future, for example at university.
Do you have to re-sit GCSE English Language if you have passed GCSE English Literature?
Unfortunately, if you have failed GCSE English Language, you do have to re-sit it. This is regardless of whether you have passed GCSE English Literature or not!
It is compulsory for you to re-take GCSE English Language if you did not get a grade 4 or above and are still under 18. More information about re-sitting exams can be found on this article from the National Careers Service if you click here.
There are two GCSE English Language exams for the AQA exam board. However, different exam boards may offer different amounts of exam papers. Regardless, this is not a lot of exams!
Therefore, don’t worry if you have failed. You can easily ask for a re-sit and as long as you will revise, you will smash the exams! If you want to find out how to get a grade nine in GCSE English Language, check out this article from Think Student.
In comparison, if you passed GCSE English Language but failed GCSE English Literature, you wouldn’t have to re-sit the exams for English Literature.
What are the requirements for studying English at A-Level?
For studying any A-Level, you need to have achieved five GCSEs between grades four to nine. One of these GCSEs must be GCSE English Language.
However, for specific subjects that you want to study at A-Level, a grade four may not be enough. This is because a grade four is just a pass.
Teachers do not want you to fail the subjects you pick for A-Level! Therefore, most teachers prefer it if you have at least a GCSE grade six in all of the subjects that you want to study.
This would show that you are quite good at your subject, meaning they will be happier to take you on. Therefore, to study GCSE English Language or Literature at A-Level, you will most probably need a grade six in these subjects at GCSE to study them.
Some exam boards offer an A-Level which combines English Language and Literature. A grade six at GCSE in both English subjects is most likely needed in order to study this. Check out this article from Study in the UK to find out more.
GCSE English Language vs English Literature: Which is hardest?
This question is very subjective. Most students are either good at both English subjects or not very good at either. However, each English subject requires different skills.
Both English subjects require students to be perceptive, know word class names and be able to think of interesting links between texts. However, GCSE English Language allows more creativity and the opportunity to perceive texts in any way you wish.
In comparison, GCSE English Literature is slightly more rigid. This is because the books, plays and poems you will study have certain interpretations which are seen as factually correct. You can’t be too creative and change the story lines!
Both English subjects have been rated as two of the hardest GCSE subjects on this article from Think Student.
What are the GCSE English Language and Literature pass rates?
A summary of the 2022 pass rates for GCSE English Language and Literature actually found slightly higher pass rates for GCSE English Literature. A grade 4 is a pass at GCSE.
A summary of the pass rate percentages can be found in this table:
|Subject||Grade 7 and above||Grade 4 and above|
|GCSE English Language||20.2%||69.8%|
|GCSE English Literature||23.8%||77.5%|
There may be slightly higher pass rates for GCSE English Literature because most students find this subject easier to revise. In comparison, the texts you receive in your GCSE English Language exams are probably ones that you have never seen before!
As a result, you need to think of good answers on the spot. This can be extremely difficult with an unfamiliar text. You can find out more percentage results on the official JCQ website, if you click here.
What are the GCSE English Language and Literature grade boundaries?
To achieve a pass at GCSE, you need at least a grade four. This table summarises the grade boundaries for a pass in the GCSE English subjects for different exam boards for 2022:
As you can see, for OCR, you only need 33% of marks correct in order to pass GCSE English Literature! Consistently, it is found that you require a lower percentage of marks to pass GCSE English Literature across all exam boards, compared to GCSE English Language.
This certainly suggests that GCSE English Language is harder. If you want to discover more grade boundaries for all of the different exams, check out this AQA website, this Edexcel website or finally this OCR website.
If you want to compare the subjects GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature even more, check out this article from Think Student.