Specification at a glance

There are three units that are assessed for GCSE English Language. Students need to show functional skills in understanding and producing non-fiction texts, together with speaking and listening and writing creatively.

This specification is changing from January 2014. After November 2013 students will have to take all their exams – including assessments – at the end of the course. For exams prior to this, assessments would be taken at the end of each unit with the opportunity for students to take one re-sit of each unit. Find out how we're supporting you through the changes to GCSE English

The externally examined unit is common to GCSE English. This gives teachers the flexibility to make late entry decisions where they may choose to enter candidates for either GCSE English (one GCSE) or GCSE English Language plus GCSE English Literature (two GCSEs).

There are no prior learning requirements.

Unit 1: Understanding and producing non-fiction texts    
External examination
60% of the total GCSE marks
2 hours 15 minutes 80 marks
Section A: Reading
30% of the total GCSE marks
  40 marks  
Section B: Writing
30% of the total GCSE marks
  40 marks


Unit 2: Speaking and listening  

Controlled assessment
Endorsement 0% weighting

45 marks  


Unit 3: Understanding spoken and written texts and writing creatively     
Controlled assessment
40% of the total GCSE marks    
80 marks
Part a: Extended reading 15% of the total GCSE marks 3-4 hours   30 marks  
Part b: Creative writing
15% of the total GCSE marks
3-4 hours   30 marks  
Part c: Spoken language study
10% of the total GCSE mark
2-3 hours   20 marks

Note that times indicates the production of final written outcomes.

For assessments and subject awards from June 2014. Speaking and Listening will be an endorsement, separately reported on certificates. Unit 2 Speaking and Listening will still remain part of the subject criteria for GCSE English Language but will have a 0% weighting. To compensate, the weighting of the Unit 1 examination will be increased to 60%.