GCSE English Literature exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

English Literature concept image

Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on GCSE English Literature

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on GCSE English Literature, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

Know the text

If you know the text well, you’ll be able to demonstrate this knowledge and understanding in the exam. The text should be the focus.

Answer the question

Make sure you’ve read the question accurately – and underline the key focus points before you start.

Refer to the text

Demonstrate your knowledge of the text by ‘pointing’ to particular moments. If you use a direct reference, make sure it’s relevant to your answer, and that you can say something useful about it. You don’t get extra marks for more quotations, but you do get more marks for making plenty of interesting comments about the references you’ve selected.

Consider the writer's purpose

Focus on the range of things that the writer might have done on purpose during the process of putting the text together.

Use the writer's name

Using the writer’s name can help you to think about the text as a conscious construct and will keep reminding you that the author deliberately put the text together.

Text first

Link your comments on contextual factors and ideas to the text. Remember that context informs, but should never dominate, your reading of the text. The text comes first.

Unseen Poem

Read the unseen poem and make sure you get a sense of the overall point first. Select three or four key things to focus your attention on.

Time management

Manage your time effectively. Don’t spend too much time on the final question as it’s worth fewer marks than elsewhere on the paper. Remember that this task asks you to compare methods, so make sure you focus your attention on the similarities and differences between what the two poets have done to make meaning.


More GCSE English Literature exam help on TSR


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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!