English Literature

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GCSE English: Summary Sheet

English Literature


Possible Revision Guides

Useful websites

Exam Content and Revision Activities

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

  • Any copy of Romeo and Juliet in the original language.

  • Relevant GCSE study guide (Published by CGP or York Notes).

  • Complete text with modern translation:


For study:

  • Check the ‘CliffsNotes’, ‘Sparknotes’ and ‘Shmoop’ websites.

  • Typing ‘Romeo and Juliet analysis’ on youtube will give lots of helpful videos.

For both Romeo and Juliet and The Sign of the Four students will be asked an essay question on any character or theme in the text. They will be given an extract to analyse, but must also discuss the whole text from memory. Students will not have copies of the text in the exam. The same revision activities can be used to develop an excellent knowledge of each text.

  • Make flashcards / mind-maps / essay plans with key quotes for all characters and themes.

  • Use the knowledge organiser to help remember the plot, themes and characters.

  • Practise memorising quotes (even single words would be good) and explaining why these quotes are important.

  • Test yourself. Write essays. Practise from memory rather than just rereading your notes.

19th Century Novel: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Any copy of The Sign of the Four. (Can be found online in PDF form).

  • The Sign of the Four: York Notes for GCSE (9-1).

The Sign of The Four has not been an exam text as long, so there are fewer online resources.

  • ‘BBC Bitesize’ has a good section in the GCSE English Literature section.

  • Again, youtube has some analysis videos.

  • Also, keep an eye on www.bbaenglish.wordpress.com

Modern Text: Blood Brothers by Willy Russell

  • Any copy of Blood Brothers.

  • Relevant GCSE study guide (Published by CGP or York Notes).

  • Plot summary, themes and characters: http://www.litcharts.com/lit/blood-brothers

  • ‘BBC Bitesize’ has a good section in the GCSE English Literature section.

For Blood Brothers, students will be given a choice of two essay questions and must answer one. The essay will be about characters or themes in Blood Brothers. Again, students will not have a copy of the text. All the revision activities listed above can be used for Blood Brothers.

Poetry: AQA Conflict Poetry and Unseen Poetry

  • Revision Guides for the Power and Conflict AQA Anthology (CGP or York Notes).

  • There are also revision guides to help practise responding to unseen poetry.

  • The anthology poems are all fairly famous; many have analysis videos on youtube.

  • Check ‘Sparknotes’ and ‘Shmoop’ websites when revision specific poems.

  • For unseen poetry, there is no substitute for practice! Check the bbaenglish website or ask your teacher for poems to practise with.

Anthology Poetry: Students must write one essay. They will be given one poem from the anthology, and must choose another poem for a comparison essay. They will need to be able to discuss the second poem from memory.

  • Any of the revision activities listed above can be used to help study these poems and the shared themes of each poem.

Unseen Poetry:

  • Students will be asked to read and discuss two poems which they have not read before. It’s important to practise reading and writing about poems that are ‘new’ or unseen.

English Language

English Language Paper 1: Creative Writing and Fiction

There are revision guides and workbooks (published by CGP) available for English Language, but this subject is more about practising reading and writing skills rather than learning content. Free practise papers are available on the BBA English Website.

English Language is based on your reading and writing skills.

  • For reading skills, check www.bbaenglish.wordpress.com for examples and practise papers.

  • The BBC Bitesize ‘English Language’ section also has many different resources.

  • The two papers test language analysis, structural analysis, summary skills and comparing tests.

  • For writing, check the website or ask your teachers for different writing tasks. You will be asked to write creatively in paper 1, and to present an argument in paper 2.

  • There are equal marks for reading and writing.

Language Paper 1:

  • In paper one, students will be asked to analyse the language and structure of a text, and then evaluate how effective that text is at creating certain effects.

  • For writing, students will be writing creatively. They will be given a choice of two questions on descriptive and narrative writing. This may include a picture as a stimulus.

English Language Paper 2: Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives

Language Paper 2:

  • Students will be given two texts linked by a similar topic. The texts will be non-fiction and present different views. Students will be asked to compare the text, summarise differences and analyse language.

  • For writing, students will be writing to present a point of view on a similar topic to the two texts. They may be asked to write in different styles for different audiences.

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