How To Pass GCSE English?

GCSEs are arguably straightforward – at least when compared to A level. You memorise the textbook, put what you’ve learned in class into practice, and secure a good grade with no problem.

However, many students struggle with GCSE English because there’s no right or wrong answer with this subject – you can memorise literary and language features but delivering these in a completely coherent and flawless essay or creative writing piece can be a different story. So, how can you pass GCSE English?

Know what the examiner wants

The key to any exam is to know what the examiner wants to see – if you can impress them and include everything they’re marking against, you’ll be put in the examiner’s good books straight away. Study your course’s mark scheme. More often than not, mark schemes in essay subjects can be a little vague, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to pick it apart and realise what you need to do.

For example, it may state that you should include a range of language and literary features. Therefore, you should include a good number of them scattered throughout your piece of writing. Alternatively, it may state that your writing should be clear, coherent, and responsive to the question. In which case – if it is an essay – link back to the question to show the examiner that you are focused and devoted to this question.

Furthermore, to be clear, read through your writing at the end to make sure you’ve spelt everything correctly, and if you’re not sure if you’ve spelt something right, it may be worth swapping this for a different word just so your spelling is on point.


It might be useful to come up with a method of remembering the different devices such as an acronym. Many students may be familiar with AFOREST, an acronym that lists the key persuasive techniques that they should use in persuasive writing pieces.

This can be really helpful as you’d just have to memorise this to have many useful devices at your fingertips. If you’re struggling to know what to write, basing your sentences off focusing on devices can be a great start. For example, in a creative writing piece, you may want to include a sentence that gives a metaphor about something you’re describing.

Furthermore, a great way to revise is by doing past papers – a common way to succeed with every GCSE as well as getting help from an online GCSE English tutor. This will help you get a feel for the style of questions, the amount of time you have to complete a paper, and it will help you practice your writing skills.

Looking at sources

English literature will require you to focus on several different texts, including a Shakespearean play.

When choosing what quotes to pick out from the text you are given, try to pick out parts that you can discuss in more detail: for example, they may have a literary device that you can describe or a link to the context of when the writing was published. Always be thinking about what is actually useful in your quotes and how they are relevant to English.

With that being said, hopefully, this is useful in helping you pass GCSE English!

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