Specifications that use this resource:

GCSE to A-level progression

Feeder subject(s)


Current subject


Progression subject(s)

KS3 English

GCSE English Literature

A-level English Literature


A-level English Language and Literature

Progression from Key Stage 3

In the Key Stage 3 programme of study students are required to read:
  • a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, including in particular whole books, short stories, poems and plays with a wide coverage of genres, historical periods, forms and authors.
  • the range will include high-quality works from English literature, both pre-1914 and contemporary, including prose, poetry and drama and Shakespeare (two plays).

This study of such a broad range of texts at Key Stage 3 will provide students with grounding in the types of texts that they will then study in more detail at GCSE. The level of challenge of the texts selected for study at GCSE, as well the skills rewarded in the mark scheme, are clearly a step up from Key Stage 3.

Progression to A-level

We have worked closely with the A-level development teams for both English Literature and English Language and Literature to ensure that our specifications are linked as much as they can be within the regulatory requirements.

Mark schemes

A particular area of collaboration has been in the development of the mark scheme. The A-level English Literature specification maintains an even balance between AOs on each text assessed in the belief that this reflects how English Literature is and ought to be studied. We have, as far as practicable, adopted this approach in GCSE in order to facilitate students’ progression to A-level and beyond. We have also consulted with the A-level Literature team about the assessment of AO3 and maintained the same interpretation of what constitutes context across both levels of specification.


The way we assess GCSE English Literature provides an appropriate stepping stone to the more open style of assessment at A-level.

In providing pre-release sections for close study and providing extracts on the exam paper for both Shakespeare and the nineteenth century novel (Paper 2) we aim to support students’ skills development. In designing questions in which students start by focusing on the details of a section of a text before writing about aspects of the text as a whole we are supporting students’ transition from detailed analysis to more ‘big picture’ analysis. In also including open essay type titles in the modern prose or drama section (Paper 1, Section A) we are giving students the opportunity to start to make that transition themselves in preparation for A-level study.

Selection of texts

We have worked, as far as possible, to avoid duplication of texts between the GCSE and A-level and to ensure that the texts chosen are at the appropriate level of challenge for the GCSE age group. For example, with regards to the Shakespeare texts we have selected plays that are popular and accessible to this age group and have avoided what are perceived to be the more challenging plays such as Hamlet, King Lear and Measure for Measure that are more commonly studied at A-level.