Specifications that use this resource:

Planning to switch to AQA?

Switching to AQA: from Edexcel

Compare our GCSE English Literature (8702) to Edexcel’s offering.

Although each exam board’s specification is different, the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual state that they all need to include the following:

  • at least one Shakespeare play
  • at least one 19th -century novel
  • a number of unseen texts
  • a comparison of unseen texts
  • an assessment of students’ use of vocabulary, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation (AO4).

Key similarities

  • Both boards have two exams, one lasting 1hr 45min, one lasting 2hrs 15min.
  • Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel questions are both extract based.
  • Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel text choices are almost identical.
  • Both boards include a question which asks students to compare two unseen poems.
  • Both poetry questions print a poem from the anthology and require the student to choose the poem they’d like to compare.

Key differences

  • We offer a wider choice of modern texts, increasing your chances of finding something to inspire your students.
  • We recognise that skills of literature analysis are intertwined, and assesses AO1, AO2 and AO3 holistically in every question (except the unseen poetry).
  • We assess AO4 in the first section of each paper, when students are freshest and writing at their best.

Assessment comparison

Paper 1

AQA Edexcel
1hr 45 mins 1hr 45 mins
64 marks 80 marks
40% of GCSE 50% of GCSE

Section A

AQA Edexcel
Section A: Shakespeare Section A: Shakespeare
One extract-based essay question. Students write about an extract from their chosen play, and the play as a whole - all within the same response. One essay question, with two essay parts. Part one focuses on an extract. Part two focuses on the whole play.

AO1, AO2 and A03 are assessed holistically across Section A and Section B.

AO4 is only assessed in Section A (4 marks).

Section A, Part A assesses AO2.

Section A, Part B assesses AO1 and AO3.

Section B

AQA Edexcel
Section B: The 19th-century novel Section B: Post-1914 Literature – British play or novel
One extract-based essay question. Students write about an extract from their chosen novel and the play as a whole. One essay question from a choice of two. Each question has a statement or quotation from the text. Students write about their chosen text.
AO1, AO2 and A03 are assessed holistically across Section A and Section B.

Section B assesses AO1, AO3 and A04.

AO4 is only assessed in Section B (8 marks).

Paper 2

AQA Edexcel
2hrs 15 mins 2hrs 15 mins
96 marks 80 marks
60% of GCSE 80% of GCSE

Section A

AQA Edexcel
Section A: Modern texts Section A: 19th-century novel
One essay question from a choice of two. Students write about their chosen text. One question with two essay parts. Part one focuses on an extract. Part two focuses on the whole novel.

Section A and Section B assess AO1, AO2 and AO3 holistically.

AO4 is only assessed in Section A (4 marks).

Section A, Part 1 assesses AO2.

Section A, Part 2 assesses AO1.

Section B

AQA Edexcel
Section B: Poetry Section B: Poetry since 1789
One question comparing two poems from the AQA Anthology. One poem will be printed on the paper. Students choose the second poem from the anthology cluster. Two parts, each with one question. Part one is one question comparing two poems from the Edexcel Anthology. One poem will be printed on the paper. Students will choose the second poem from the Anthology cluster. Part two is one question comparing two unseen poems.
Section A and Section B assess AO1, AO2 and AO3 holistically. Section B Part 1 assesses AO2 and AO3. Section B Part 2 assesses AO1 and AO2.

Section C

AQA Edexcel
Section C: Unseen Poetry No Section C
Two questions: one question on an unseen poem and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem. n/a
The first question assesses AO1 and AO2, the second question assesses AO2. n/a

Text comparison

Shakespeare

AQA Edexcel
  • Macbeth
  • The Tempest
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Julius Caesar (AQA only)
  • Macbeth
  • The Tempest
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Twelfth night (Edexcel only)

19th-century novel

AQA Edexcel
  • Jane Eyre
  • Great Expectations
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Frankenstein
  • The Sign of Four (AQA only)
  • Jane Eyre
  • Great Expectations
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Frankenstein
  • Silas Marner (Edexcel only) .

Modern texts/Post-1914 British play or novel

AQA Edexcel
  • Animal Farm
  • An Inspector Calls
  • Anita and Me
  • Blood Brothers
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Pigeon English
  • A Taste of Honey
  • DNA
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play-script)
  • The History Boys
  • Never Let Me Go
  • Telling Tales (AQA only)
  • AQA short story anthology
  • AQA past and present poetry anthology
  • Animal Farm
  • An Inspector Calls
  • Anita and Me
  • Blood Brothers
  • Journey’s End
  • Hobson’s Choice
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Woman in Black
  • The Empress
  • Refugee Boy
  • Coram Boy
  • Boys don't cry
  • Belonging (collection of poems)
  • Edexcel poetry anthology collections

Love and relationships

AQA Edexcel
  • When We Two Parted – Lord Byron
  • Love’s Philosophy – Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Porphyria’s Lover – Robert Browning
  • Sonnet 29 – ‘I think of thee!’ – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Neutral Tones – Thomas Hardy
  • Letters From Yorkshire – Maura Dooley
  • ‘The Farmer’s Bride – Charlotte Mew
  • Walking Away – Cecil Day-Lewis
  • Eden Rock – Charles Causley
  • Follower – Seamus Heaney
  • Mother, any distance – Simon Armitage
  • Before You Were Mine – Carol Ann Duffy
  • Winter Swans – Owen Sheers
  • Singh Song! – Daljit Nagra
  • Climbing My Grandfather – Andrew Waterhouse
  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci – John Keats
  • A Child to his Sick Grandfather – Joanna Baillie
  • She Walks in Beauty – Lord Byron
  • A Complaint – William Wordsworth
  • Neutral Tones – Thomas Hardy
  • Sonnet 43 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • My Last Duchess – Robert Browning
  • 'First Date – She’ and ‘First Date – He’ – Wendy Cope
  • Valentine – Carol Ann Duffy
  • One Flesh – Elizabeth Jennings
  • I wanna be yours – John Cooper Clarke
  • Love’s Dog – Jen Hadfield
  • Nettles – Vernon Scannell
  • The Manhunt – Simon Armitage
  • My Father Would Not Show Us – Ingrid de Kok

Power and conflict

AQA Edexcel
  • Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • London – William Blake
  • Extract from ‘The Prelude’ – William Wordsworth
  • My Last Duchess – Robert Browning
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Exposure – Wilfred Owen
  • Storm on the Island – Seamus Heaney
  • Bayonet Charge – Ted Hughes
  • Remains – Simon Armitage
  • Poppies – Jane Weir
  • War Photographer – Carol Ann Duffy
  • Tissue – Imtiaz Dharker
  • The Emigrée – Carol Rumens
  • Checking Out Me History – John Agard
  • Kamikaze – Beatrice Garland
  • A Poison Tree – William Blake
  • The Destruction of Sennacherib – Lord Byron
  • Extract from ‘The Prelude’ – William Wordsworth
  • The Man He Killed – Thomas Hardy
  • Cousin Kate – Christina Rossetti
  • Half-caste – John Agard
  • Exposure – Wilfred Owen
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Catrin – Gillian Clarke
  • War Photographer – Carole Satyamurti
  • Belfast Confetti – Ciaran Carson
  • The Class Game – Mary Casey
  • Poppies – Jane Weir
  • No Problem – Benjamin Zephaniah
  • What Were They Like? – Denise Levertov

Time and place

AQA Edexcel
n/a
  • To Autumn – John Keats
  • Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sep 3, 1802 – William Wordsworth
  • London – William Blake
  • I started Early – Took my Dog – Emily Dickinson
  • Where the Picnic was – Thomas Hardy
  • Adlestrop – Edward Thomas
  • Home Thoughts from Abroad – Robert Browning
  • First Flight – U. A. Fanthorpe
  • Stewart Island – Fleur Adcock
  • Present from my Aunts in Pakistan – Moniza Alvi
  • Hurricane Hits England – Grace Nichols
  • Nothing’s Changed – Tatamkhulu Afrika
  • Postcard from a Travel Snob – Sophie Hannah
  • In Romney Marsh – John Davidson
  • Absence – Elizabeth Jennings

If you're thinking of switching to AQA, let us know you're interested.

Specifications that use this resource: