GCSE English Literature

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GCSE English Literature Exam

Having worked your way through GCSE English Language it is now time to move on to more cultural texts in GCSE English Literature Exam.

In this section of our GCSE pages, we want to provide you with a simple yet complete overview of the English Literature Syllabus and what material you can expect to cover. We will offer you past examples of English Literature notes and resources that will help you cut through large amounts of material with ease. We will introduce you to some online tools that you may currently be using but if not, you should consider using.

We have a huge archive of English Literature notes that are free for you to use. From sample Quizzes to Flashcards and Mind Maps to Study Planners, you will have a full suite of tools from which to work with. In the GCSE English Literature Exam study groups, you will find students and teachers just like you that are discussing everything from poetry to Shakespeare. We have everything you will need to pass the exam, now all you have to do is get started.


GCSE English Literature Exam Subject Overview

Students will be asked to study a range of high quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial texts in detail. These will include:

  • At least one play by Shakespeare
  • At least one 19th century novel
  • A selection of poetry since 1789, which must include Romantic poetry
  • Fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.

The new specification for GCSE English Literature Exam now requires students to tackle some unseen texts.

Within the range of texts above, the emphasis should be on deepening students’ understanding. The texts should be chosen with the key aim of providing students with knowledge to support both current and future study.

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Reading comprehension

Literal and inferential comprehension

Students are required to understand a word, phrase or sentence in context. They will be asked to explore aspects of plot, characterisation, events and settings, and they must be able to distinguish between what is actually stated and implied.

Critical reading

Students must identify and distinguish between themes whilst supporting a point of view by referring to evidence in the text. Students need to make an informed personal response. They need to understand how the social, historical, and cultural context influenced the work, so history and the author’s biography are important too.

Evaluate a writer’s choice of vocabulary, grammar and structure

In this section students will be asked to analyse and evaluate how language, structure, form and presentation contribute to quality and impact. They will need to be familiar with literary and linguistic terminology.

GCSE English Lit

Comparing texts

Students will have to compare and contrast texts studied, referring where relevant to theme, characterisation, context (where known), style and literary quality. Students will also be asked to compare two texts critically with respect to the above.

Included in these sections, students will have the option of reading the following material depending on their level:

  1. Exploring Modern Texts
  2. Poetry Across Time
  3. The Significance of Shakespeare and the English Literacy Heritage


  1. Exploring Modern Texts
  2. Approaching Shakespeare and the English Literacy Heritage
  3. Exploring Poetry

Breakdown of Sections

Exploring Texts

In this section we have explored a large selection of material you can expect to cover in the English Literature test. We have given you some great resources to use and work with. In all cases we have not have notes created for certain texts so why not add your own for other students just like you.

Short Stories Can Include:

  • Flight; An Overview
  • The Darkness Out There
  • The Compass and Torch Quotes
  • Anita and Me Context
  • Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit
Day of the GCSEs

Modern Prose or Drama

Below, you can browse through some of the resources already created on GoConqr by other GCSE users. If there are any titles that they have missed, why not add them yourself?

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Use the resources below that other GCSE students have created to prepare for your exam. Feel free to help other students in the same way by creating resources for titles that may be missing from this list.

[quiz href=”https://www.examtime.com/en-GB/p/86966″]Quiz: The Crucible[/quiz] Mind Map Icon Play Mind Map Icon Play Mind Map Icon Play



Poetry Across Time

In this unit students will take a skills-based approach to poetry, learning how to make an informed personal response to a range of poems. This unit covers two sections:

  • Contemporary Poetry
  • Poetry from the English, Welsh and Irish Literary Heritage

Section A is based on the study of a thematic poetry cluster. Each cluster contains fifteen poems. Studentswill study one of these clusters in detail in order to respond to questions.

Section B asks students to respond to an unseen poem. Students must study another complete cluster. They may draw on a range of poems from across the anthology clusters, (not already covered for Section A).

GCSE English Literature Exam Outcomes

The GCSE English literature exam will help students to develop their knowledge and skills in reading, writing and critical thinking.

The exam will enable students to:

  • Read a wide range of classic literature fluently.
  • Make connections across their reading.
  • Read in depth, critically and evaluatively.
  • Develop a habit of reading widely and often.
  • Appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage.
  • Write accurately, effectively and analytically.
  • Acquire and use a wide vocabulary.

If there were any sections that were not already covered, why not continue your preparations by creating your very own notes and study aids.

Want to discover more learning resources or create your own? We have over 2,000,000 resources waiting to be discovered on our learning website GoConqr. Students worldwide have logged over 40,000,000 learning sessions on the site, so why not join in and see how it can help you. Get started today for free with GoConqr.