Why choose this specification?

Based on a range of relevant, real-life texts, contexts and scenarios, Functional English reflects today's challenges. Tasks may involve:

  • reading leaflets, reports or articles
  • writing letters, emails or notices
  • taking part in discussions and giving presentations.


Functional English comprises:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking, Listening and Communication.

Students are entered for Level 1 or Level 2 when they can demonstrate all the skills standards outlined at that level.

Reading Level 1

Read and understand a range of straightforward texts.

  • Identify the main points and ideas and how they are presented in a variety of texts.
  • Read and understand texts in detail.
  • Utilise information in texts.
  • Identify suitable responses to texts.

Reading Level 2

Select, read, understand and compare texts and use them to gather information, ideas, arguments and opinions.

  • Select and use different types of texts to obtain and utilise relevant information.
  • Read and summarise, succinctly, information and ideas from different sources.
  • Identify the purposes of texts and comment on how meaning is conveyed.
  • Detect point of view, implicit meaning and bias.
  • Analyse texts in relation to audience needs and consider suitable responses.

Writing Level 1 

Write a range of texts to communicate information, ideas and opinions, using formats and styles suitable for their purpose and audience.

  • Write clearly and coherently, including an appropriate level of detail.
  • Present information in a logical sequence.
  • Use language, format and structure suitable for purpose and audience.
  • Use correct grammar, including correct and consistent use of tense.
  • Ensure written work contains generally accurate punctuation and spelling and that meaning is clear.

Writing Level 2 

Write a range of texts, including extended written documents, communicating information, ideas and opinions effectively and persuasively.

  • Present information/ideas concisely, logically and persuasively.
  • Present information on complex subjects clearly and concisely.
  • Use a range of writing styles for different purposes.
  • Use a range of sentence structures, including complex sentences and paragraphs to organise written communication effectively.
  • Punctuate written text using commas, apostrophes and inverted commas accurately.
  • Make sure written work is fit for purpose and audience, with accurate spelling and grammar that support clear meaning in a range of text types.

Speaking, Listening and Communication Level 1

Take full part in formal and informal discussions and exchanges that include unfamiliar subjects.

  • Make relevant and extended contributions to discussions, allowing for and responding to others' input.
  • Prepare for and contribute to the formal discussion of ideas and opinions.
  • Make different kinds of contributions to discussions.
  • Present information and points of view clearly and in appropriate language.

Speaking, Listening and Communication Level 2

Make a range of contributions to discussions in a range of contexts, including those that are unfamiliar. Make effective presentations.

  • Consider complex information and give a relevant, cogent response in appropriate language.
  • Present information and ideas clearly and persuasively to others.
  • Adapt contributions to suit audience, purpose and situation.
  • Make significant contributions to discussions, taking a range of roles and helping to move discussion forward.

Overlap with other qualifications

Functional English is available as a standalone qualification. It is also:

  • embedded in programmes of study at Key Stage 3 and 4
  • a component of apprenticeship frameworks and foundation learning
  • a replacement for Key Skills qualifications at Levels 1 and 2.


Students can re-sit the qualification any number of times.

Private candidates

Private candidates must have their controlled assessment supervised and marked at an AQA school/college. For more information, please see our Private candidates page.

Follow-on study

Level 1 students can move on to Level 2. The qualification prepares students for the functional elements of GCSE English and English Language.