The Student Room Group

Is A-Level Eng Lit harder than GCSE Eng Lit?

Do you have to memorise quotes or are all exams generally open book?
Reply 1
Hi - I do English Lit A-Level, and I know that for Edexcel, AQA, and Eduqas, it's is a mix of open and closed book (though mostly closed). I believe there's also a coursework component in all of these exam boards.

In general I'd definitely say that although English is time a time-consuming A-level and of course there's a jump in the skill level expected, It's so much better than GCSE. There's less pointless rote memorisation of quotes and themes, and the things you're exploring about the wider world in-class as well as in extra reading are really interesting and surprisingly interdisciplinary (e.g, psychology, religion, ethics, philosophy...). If you enjoy English Lit at GCSE, I'd definitely go for it. Yes, I would personally say it's harder than GCSE and maybe more time consuming than other A-Levels, but I enjoy it so much more. Don't be afraid of the hard work - it's worth it at A-Level.
(edited 1 month ago)
I do edexcel English Lit A-level and its all open book which I think is really good.
I absolutely love the course, all the books we do are so interesting and suprisingly I found poetry is my favourite part of the course! The hardest and probably biggest step up for me was the exam technique. At GCSE you look at individual quotes whereas at A-level you are more looking for patterns across the text. Takes a while to get the hang of but it honestly makes way more sense
Reply 3
You don’t have to waste ages going into loads of waffley and made up detail about one word/simile etc (in fact they discourage this). It’s really interesting to learn about the broader contexts of the literature and the coursework allows you to explore your own ideas so that’s interesting.
The texts will probably be harder to grasp initially than GCSE texts, but you’ll spend ages going through each part in loads of detail and picking it apart (and magpie-ing ideas off each other). It’s hard work and can feel overwhelming sometimes but if you enjoy it it’s so worth it. I enjoyed it so much at A-Level.

We did AQA and had 2 themes, crime and tragedy, in which crime was open book (2 books and a selection of poetry and then an unseen extract given in the exam) and tragedy was closed book (a Shakespeare play, a contemporary play, and a selection of poems, all Keats in my case). People generally did better in crime as it was open book. Themes vary across exam boards and specs so there are loads of different things you could end up doing and it’s worth looking into whatever course your sixth form/college does

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