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Help for English Language GCSE: Essential Information for Students

From Laura, published on 18/08/2017 Blog > Academia > School English > English Language GCSE Guide for Students

English is widely known as the number one language in business, so making the subject compulsory for young and aspiring learners makes perfect sense. Moreover, studying your mother-tongue language helps to make you more alert when it comes to communicating, putting you in a strong position to rise to further academic and professional demands.

English Language courses are designed to help students develop reading, writing and analytical skills, all of which are highly transferrable to various situations.

If English would not have been your first choice, the good news is that you do not have to continue with this subject at A Level. However, as you can see, English Language is a very worthwhile subject to study, so do not rule out the possibility of taking this further after you complete your GCSE course.

Get your message across by learning more about language. English Language will help you to develop a set of transferrable skills, the main being the ability to communicate better. Photo via Visual Hunt

GCSE English Language Typical Workload

GCSE English Language students will be rewarded with a set of key transferable skills, not to mention being able to read some really interesting content along the way.

Are you familiar with GCSE English literature requirements?

You can benefit from a very varied course structure with an English Language study programme, with modules concentrating on analysing various writing styles and others focusing on enhancing your own creative writing.

Although you will have a smaller volume of reading to do for this course than the English Literature one, you will still need to read as much as you possibly can to familiarise yourself with different types of text. In addition, you will be expected to read secondary materials to support your studies and to enable you to develop a good level of knowledge surrounding the key themes.

Although there is now less emphasis on coursework than in previous years, the English Language course is still partially assessed on how you perform in a controlled assessment, which means work completed in the classroom under strict supervision by your teacher.

This includes moderating your speaking skills in addition to your reading and writing capabilities. Although these internal assessments are reasonably flexible at the school or college’s discretion, they are still taken towards the end of the two-year study programme.

It is thought that the amount of coursework for GCSE English will continue to reduce in the future, but until then you must be prepared to perform at your best in these situations. Dependent on your exam board, the outcome of your course will be determined by basing 60% of the grade on external exams and 40% on controlled assessments, or vice-versa.

Exam Boards Assessing English Language Courses At GCSE Level

English Language courses at GCSE level are offered by a range of exam boards, including AQA, OCR, Edexcel, Eduqas and WJEC. The exact course you enrol on will be dependent on your school or college‘s preference, however teachers and tutors will be fully trained and equipped to teach you the content relevant to your syllabus.

Each board will have slightly different methods of assessing your work, but all of the syllabi will as standard include key language themes and thus share many similarities across English GCSE.

Do you know which is your examination board? There are numerous exam boards that assess English at GCSE level, all of which primarily use exams to grade students’ work. Photo credit: dcJohn via Visual hunt

If you are particularly interested in the main differences which set OCR apart from AQA, then you can find a table on the OCR website which puts this information in black and white for you. The main thing that they have in common is their desire to develop the student’s understanding and love of the English language.

Resources For GCSE English Revision

You can source many materials for exam revision by visiting each of the exam boards’ websites.

AQA and OCR, for example, both feature documents aimed at teachers and pupils respectively. The AQA website has a set of downloadable documents, including newsletters, while OCR has a searchable catalogue of high-quality resources.

In addition, both boards offer past papers dating back several years to help pupils get a better understanding of what they can expect on exam day. Using past papers properly is probably one of the best forms of revision you can do in the lead up to your exams. You can read more on past papers below.

Although the Internet is a fantastic resource in itself for fact-finding and information-hunting, do not underestimate the impact that paperback revision guides can have on your revision process. If you are not sure where to get hold of such printed materials, try your local book store or even grocery store which may stock booklets tailored to your course.

High street chain WH Smith stocks a wide range of educational help books priced upwards of £5. Similarly, you can find some specific English Language materials produced by CGP, which are available to purchase in selected shops and also on their website.

Having a physical book to open up and read could really benefit some pupils. If you have a photographic memory, for example, then you might like to read these tangible, colourful booklets so that you can store clear pieces of information or diagrams in your brain to consult in the exam.

How To Use Resources Adapted to English Language GCSE Courses

It can be hard to grasp why you need to revise for a subject that is in fact your native language, especially since the test is based upon unseen texts. Despite these factors, there are some ways in which you can prepare for the exam.

You might like to start by reading revision materials online and on paper, and going over classroom notes. Be sure to re-read any relevant texts and analyse/take note of the linguistic properties to get you used to picking out small details that might have a bigger meaning.

Finally, review various styles of texts (even some not included on the course) to broaden your knowledge of alternative writing styles.

It is wise to really scrutinise the mark scheme and get a better understanding of what technique you need to adopt for this English course.

If you want to become a member of the A* club, then take a look at exam answers written by top-level pupils. Take note of the way they construct their responses, the level of knowledge they display and the key terminology they use.  

Whether you see yourself being a top-scorer in English Language or not, answering past papers yourself is a great way to get ready for exams. If your teacher has no plans to set a mock exam in a classroom setting, then try to set up exam conditions at home or in the library. Limit yourself to only having the objects you would be allowed in an exam and be sure to time yourself  so that you get a feel for how long each question takes to answer.

Some pupils find it hard to manage their time when placed under strain so this could be a useful task to help you to plan and organise your time a little better.

Further Education And Career Prospects For Students On English Language Courses

So, you are already aware that studying English sets you up with some valuable life skills, but what more can a language course do for you and your future?

In addition to leading you onto a number of further education possibilities, like A Levels or a vocational course of your choice, a good GCSE English Language grade will improve your employability as you enter the working environment.

Even now, employers still ask to see proof of your core GCSE subject grades in the form of certificates whenever you apply for a role. Furthermore, if your GCSE course turns out to be your most recent or most relevant qualification, then you may even need to display evidence of all of your GCSE scores.

Your performance in these exams can tell the prospective employer a lot about you and your character; how well you might perform certain tasks, if you will be a hard worker, whether you will be able think outside of the box, and much more.

Where would you turn if you are an adult sitting GCSE? Find out with our guide for mature students.

Results day can be very rewarding if you have worked hard during the course. Your GCSE results will say a lot about you when it comes to applying for jobs or further education. Photo credit: Northern Ireland Executive via VisualHunt

It is very important that you do not twist the truth on these types of official documents, because often checks are made to verify your grades by contacting your place of study.

Also, just think – if you state on an application form that you achieved an A* in English Language yet your supporting letter is riddled with errors, this will make the company question your integrity and you could wind up in a lot of trouble.

If you take the English course seriously enough and work hard to reach the best possible grade that you can, you will find that your GCSE English Language grade helps you to move onwards and upwards rather than holds you back.

Confirm your English GCSE timetables with this guide.

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