Scheme of assessment

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This specification is designed to be taken over two years with all assessments taken at the end of the course.

GCSE exams and certification for this specification are available for the first time in May/June 2017 and then every May/June and November for the life of the specification.

This is a linear qualification. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all exams in November or May/June in a single year. All assessments must be taken in the same series. November entries will only be available to students who were at least 16 on the previous 31 August. See Resits and shelf life in the General administration section for November entry restrictions.

In designing and setting the assessments for this specification we have ensured that taken together, these assessments include questions or tasks which will allow students to:
  • provide extended responses
  • demonstrate their ability to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across a full course of study for this qualification.

The final reading question on each paper - Question 4 on Paper 1 and Question 4 on Paper 2 allows students to fulfill this requirement.

All materials are available in English only.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

read fluently and write effectively. They should be able to demonstrate a confident control of Standard English and they should be able to write grammatically correct sentences, deploy figurative language and analyse texts.

Courses based on this specification should enable students to:

  • read a wide range of texts, fluently and with good understanding
  • read critically, and use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing
  • write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately
  • use grammar correctly, punctuate and spell accurately
  • acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
In addition, they must enable students to:
  • listen to and understand spoken language, and use spoken Standard English effectively.

The Spoken Language endorsement will be reported on as part of the qualification, but it will not form part of the final mark and grade.

Explorations in creative reading and writing

The aim of this paper is to engage students in a creative text and inspire them to write creatively themselves by:
  • in section A, reading a literature fiction text in order to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of readers
  • in section B, writing their own creative text, inspired by the topic that they have responded to in section A to demonstrate their narrative and descriptive skills in response to a written prompt, scenario or visual image.

The paper will assess in this sequence, AO1, AO2 and AO4 for reading, and AO5 and AO6 for writing. Section A will be allocated 40 marks, and Section B will be allocated 40 marks to give an equal weighting to the reading and writing tasks.


The source for the reading questions will be a literature fiction text. It will be drawn from either the 20th or 21st century. Its genre will be prose fiction. It will include extracts from novels and short stories and focus on openings, endings, narrative perspectives and points of view, narrative or descriptive passages, character, atmospheric descriptions and other appropriate narrative and descriptive approaches.

As a stimulus for students’ own writing, there will be a choice of scenario, written prompt or visual image that is related to the topic of the reading text in section A. The scenario sets out a context for writing with a designated audience, purpose and form that will differ to those specified on Paper 2.

Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives

The aim of this paper is to develop students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It will encourage students to demonstrate their skills by:
  • in section A, reading two linked sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how each presents a perspective or viewpoint to influence the reader
  • in section B, producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose and form in which they give their own perspective on the theme that has been introduced to them in section A.
The paper will assess in this sequence, AO1, AO2 and AO3 for reading, and AO5 and AO6 for writing. Section A will be allocated 40 marks, and section B will be allocated 40 marks to give an equal weighting to the reading and writing tasks.


The sources for the reading questions will be non-fiction and literary non-fiction texts. They will be drawn from the 19th century, and either the 20th or 21st century depending on the time period assessed in Paper 1 in each particular series. The combination selected will always provide students with an opportunity to consider viewpoints and perspectives over time. Choice of genre will include high quality journalism, articles, reports, essays, travel writing, accounts, sketches, letters, diaries, autobiography and biographical passages or other appropriate non-fiction and literary non-fiction forms.

In section B, there will be a single writing task related to the theme of section A. It will specify audience, purpose and form, and will use a range of opinions, statements and writing scenarios to provoke a response.

Non-exam assessment

The aim of the assessment is to allow students to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills by:
  • giving a presentation in a formal context
  • responding appropriately to questions and to feedback, asking questions themselves to elicit clarification
  • using spoken Standard English.
The assessment will be separately endorsed and will cover AO7, AO8 and AO9 for spoken language.


Students must undertake a prepared spoken presentation on a specific topic. The topic is at the discretion. As a guide, the duration should be no more than ten minutes. The key requirements are:

  • presentations must be formal but may take a wide variety of forms, including talks, debates, speeches and dialogues
  • students must identify the subject for their presentations in advance and agree it with their teacher
  • presentations must be planned and organised. Students should be advised that that lack of preparation is likely to prevent access to the criteria for the higher grades
  • students may use pre-prepared notes, powerpoint etc. to assist them during their presentations but this is not a requirement
  • as part of, or following, the presentation students must listen to and respond appropriately to questions and feedback
  • where the audience is the teacher only, the presentation and dialogue must be designed in such a way that it could have a potentially wider audience than just one person (eg it replicates a television interview).

Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE English Language specifications and all exam boards.

The exams and Spoken Language endorsement will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

  • AO1:
    • identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas
    • select and synthesise evidence from different texts
  • AO2: Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views
  • AO3: Compare writers’ ideas and perspectives, as well as how these are conveyed, across two or more texts
  • AO4: Evaluate texts critically and support this with appropriate textual references
  • AO5: Communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, selecting and adapting tone, style and register for different forms, purposes and audiences. Organise information and ideas, using structural and grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of texts
  • AO6: Candidates must use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation. (This requirement must constitute 20% of the marks for each specification as a whole.)
  • AO7: Demonstrate presentation skills in a formal setting
  • AO8: Listen and respond appropriately to spoken language, including to questions and feedback on presentations
  • AO9: Use spoken Standard English effectively in speeches and presentations.

Weighting of assessment objectives for GCSE English Language

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Paper 1 Paper 2 Spoken Language NEA
AO1 2.5 7.5 N/A 10
AO2 10 7.5 N/A 17.5
AO3 N/A 10 N/A 10
AO4 12.5 N/A N/A 12.5
AO5 15 15 N/A 30
AO6 10 10 N/A 20
AO7 N/A N/A endorsement 0
AO8 N/A N/A endorsement 0
AO9 N/A N/A endorsement 0
Overall weighting of components 50 50 0 100

Assessment weightings

The marks awarded on the papers will be scaled to meet the weighting of the components. Students’ final marks will be calculated by adding together the scaled marks for each component. Grade boundaries will be set using this total scaled mark. The scaling and total scaled marks are shown in the table below.

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing 80 x1 80
Paper 2: Writers' Viewpoints and Perspectives 80 x1 80
    Total scaled mark: 160