GCSE English Tutor

GCSE English Tutor


Read our useful guides to help with your GCSE English revision. Our detailed guides will help you to understand your compulsory reading. From Shakespeare to Dickens have a guide to help you through.


GCSE English

GCSE English encompasses two disciplines and indeed two separate exams, GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.  In English schools, both subjects are mandatory, and these are considered, along with GCSE Maths, as the most important GCSE subjects for children to succeed in, both in terms of their future studies and later employment opportunities. It is important to consider the benefit of an English GCSE Tutor as they can help to develop a child’s knowledge and understanding of the two different types of English Papers they will sit.

Exam Boards

It’s important to identify which exam board your child’s school is following for GCSE English as they do vary, for example, they tend to use different set texts.  This is one of the first questions we will ask you should you give us a call.

The main exam boards for GCSE English are:

GCSE English Language.

GCSE English Language is one of the few subjects that children must pass to progress to the next stage of their education, a pass being considered a grade 4 or above. If pupils do not achieve a Grade 4 or above, they must re sit their English Language GCSE until they do, similarly with Maths GCSE.

Girl using notes from her GCSE English tutor

What is GCSE English Language all about?

Simply put, GCSE English Language aims to help students be able to read fluently and write effectively. These are some of the most important life skills secondary education can offer children, hence why a pass at this subject is considered mandatory.

GCSE English Language students work towards writing confident English, with grammatically correct sentences, use figurative language and be able to analyse texts.

As the course progresses students should develop their skills at:

  • reading a wide range of texts, fluently and with good understanding
  • reading critically, and using knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing
  • writing effectively and coherently, using appropriate English
  • using grammar correctly, punctuating and spelling accurately
  • acquiring and applying a wide vocabulary.

GCSE English Literature

Children do not need a mandatory pass in GCSE English Literature as they do with English Language.  However, GCSE English literature is still considered one the most important GCSE’s for children to succeed in, as it introduces the essay skills critical for A Level humanities subjects and is considered challenging in it’s range and skill requirements. On the plus side, it introduces children to some of the most celebrated aspects of our cultural heritage.  For example, this will likely be when children first read Shakespeare, Dickens or Jane Austen.

What is GCSE English Literature all about?

English Literature at GCSE aims to help students develop their abilities in reading comprehension and the critical analysis of texts.

As the course progresses students should develop their skills at:

  • understanding words, phrases or sentences in context; exploring aspects of plot, characterisation, events and settings; distinguishing between what is stated explicitly and what is implied; explaining motivation, sequence of events, and the relationship between actions or events
  • Identifying themes and distinguishing between themes; supporting a point of view by referring to evidence in the text; recognising the possibility of and evaluating different responses to a text; using understanding of writers’ social, historical and cultural contexts to inform evaluation
  • analysing and evaluating how language, structure, form and presentation contribute to quality and impact; using linguistic and literary terminology for such evaluation
  • comparing and contrasting texts studied, referring to theme, characterisation, context, style and literary quality
  • writing effectively about literature for a range of purposes such as: to describe, explain, summarise, argue, analyse and evaluate; discussing and maintaining a point of view; selecting and emphasising key points; using relevant quotation and using detailed textual references
  • using accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.

How to do well at English GCSE

For both English GCSE exams, the key to success is for your child to read, read, read. They should read their texts, read other texts by the same author and read around the subjects, eras and themes that they are learning about to broaden their contextual understanding.  Students looking to do well should start reading their GCSE syllabus as early as they can, Year 9 if possible. Question practice and exam technique are also vital.

Understand the mark scheme

As a parent, you need to understand how your child’s GCSE English exams will be marked.  This is so that you know how to help them to obtain the best mark that they can achieve. All the exam boards publish detailed guidance what they are looking for, including specimen marked answers and this is one of the important reasons to know which exam board your child is sitting.

The examiner will be giving a specific number of marks for pre-determined responses to each question. Your child needs to know exactly what the examiner wants from them in every type of question. They then need to learn how to ‘tick the boxes’ on the mark scheme to ensure they pick up the most marks they can.

Boy using his GCSE English Tutor work

Make a revision plan

It is really important that your child starts their revision early enough and organises their revision well. They should start a structured revision plan by the January of their exam year.  As a parent, you should be alert to whether school is teaching your child how to do a revision plan and step in if you feel your child does not have this structure.  This could be an extremely valuable use of an hour of your time to help them get organised and realise the extent of the work they need to commit to.

Quality Revision

A common mistake many students make is to think that it is impossible to revise for their GCSE English Language papers. Although there are no set texts to learn, students can lift their grades considerably by revising and practising the grammatical, linguistic and stylistic elements of language that they have been taught, practising exam questions and learning mark schemes.

For English Literature, students should revise the key themes relating to their set texts and practice writing essays on them.  Common revision aids, such as York Notes can give lists of potential essays and students should aim to have at least written an essay plan for all major themes and characters listed.

What is different for this year? Exam cycle 2022.

We understand that for English Language GCSE there will be no changes or adaptations for the exam cycle 2022 and this is because the Government consider it so important that children complete this syllabus in its entirety.

The Government has suggested that they will make adaptations to the GCSE English Literature exams to allow more of a choice of topics that students must answer questions on.  This is to make allowances for the disruption in children’s learning as a result of school closures in 2021.

Girl with her GCSE English Tutor

Sitting Public exams for the first time

Children can feel immense pressure around the time of their first public exams and it is part of your job as a parent to help them navigate this. On a positive note, this can be a time of great personal growth for teenagers, as they juggle many subjects, sustain hard work over many months and push through exam nerves.  Talk to your child about managing their emotions and introduce important elements of self care, such as sufficient sleep and good nutrition.

GCSE English tutor and GCSE English

The best way to support your child through their English GCSE’s is to give them the tools and skills to succeed. Some targeted intervention with an experienced tutor can make all the difference.  We make sure that your GCSE English tutor is experienced, a qualified teacher, a Head of Department and an Examiner who knows the GCSE English syllabuses back to front.  A GCSE English Tutor can teach your child in the manner they learn best, explain the latest mark schemes, help them unpick difficult 19th Century prose and Shakespearean poetry and dramatically improve their Essay technique. A GCSE English Tutor can really benefit a child’s school development.

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