William Shakespeare 1609

You can choose new 9-1 GCSE or IGCSE English Literature, as there is no coursework in the new English Literature GCSE.

Do you need a separate English Literature qualification? Edit

Is it necessary to do separate exams in English Language and English Literature? What if you want to study English Literature at sixth form?

It depends. The real gatekeeper for entry to many courses and jobs is GCSE or IGCSE English Language. If you only want to do one GCSE/IGCSE in English, then English Language is the one to do.

The only situation where a separate English Literature qualification may be important is if you wish to study English Literature at a higher level, though it may also help if you want to study Drama. Some A-level English courses are combined literature and language, while others are literature-only. Some colleges specify that applicants need GCSE or IGCSE English Literature. Others have been more flexible. If it's important to your child to have the option of studying English A-level then contact local colleges to find out what their requirements are.

If your child definitely does not want to study English at A-level then there is no need to take English Literature at GCSE level, although of course it may be enjoyable and beneficial to do so anyway.

One family's experience:

"My daughter did CIE English Language IGCSE. She got an A*.
She decided English Lit IGCSE would be too tedious and she read and studied a range of literature of her own choice and wrote essays on short reflections on them. (internet gives plenty of ideas for essay titles..). She created a portfolio of work ready for her application to 6th form. As it was, they were not concerned to see it.. just talked to her and were quite happy to have her study AS and A2 English Lit with them. She is doing very well and is markedly better read than most of her peers! The good grade in Eng Lang was significant....she needed a B for the 6th form in that and I think the A* was persuasive when she did not have Eng Lit too."

English Literature Specifications Edit

The most popular options for home-educated students are CIE IGCSE English Literature, and Edexcel IGCSE English Literature. The Edexcel specification changed to a new version, graded 9-1 , from summer 2018.

New GCSEs - exams from 2017 Edit

New GCSEs in English Literature available to external candidates include those from all major exam boards - AQA, OCR, Pearson Edexcel, etc. They are all graded 9-1. The downside to taking them now is that there are no past papers available so it is hard to practise for the expected format and question style.

Pearson Edexcel GCSE English Literature from 2015 (this means for teaching from 2015; first exams were 2017).

CAIE English Literature IGCSE Edit

The specification most commonly taken by home-ed students is :

English - Literature (0486) .

This is the specification which has been available in the past but will be superseded by the new specification 0475 in 2020. Don't worry about the lack of past papers, as the questions in this exam vary little from year to year. Generally speaking, there are 4 essays to write over the course of 2 exam papers. You can opt for 1 poetry anthology, two plays and one prose text (novel or short story anthology), but an 'Unseen' question is possible in place of one of the plays.

'☀Learners develop an understanding of literal meaning, relevant contexts and of the deeper themes or attitudes that may be expressed. Through their studies, they learn to recognise and appreciate the ways in which writers use English to achieve a range of effects, and will be able to present an informed, personal response to the material they have studied.'

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Possible textbooks for CAIE Literature

Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English (Cambridge International IGCSE)] by Russell Carey

Complete English Literature for Cambridge IGCSE®] by Mark Pedroz

Edexcel IGCSE English LiteratureEdit

The new specification graded 9-1 for exams from Summer 2018 is

Edexcel International GCSE English Literature (2016)

Past papers for Edexcel IGCSE / Certificate English Lit from Jan 2015

Dedicated textbooks for Edexcel IGCSE English Lit:

Edexcel IGCSE English Literature Student Book with ActiveBook CD

How many texts to study for the Edexcel IGCSE?Edit

In the spec of Edexcel English Literature 4ET0/01 there is one question to answer from the section on Drama, one from the section on prose. Within these sections there are several books to choose from, and there will be two questions per book on the paper.

It seems that online courses focus on one book from each section, which would still give a choice of two questions per section. But what if you study study two books per section, therefore giving a choice from 4 questions, not two, per section - is this too much work?

Reply from Catherine Mooney, English tutor:

This question often crops up and here's my six penn'orth! I always suggest that my students study one prose and one drama, because in the time available you are going to be able to go into far more depth than if you were to study two. There is nothing to stop anyone studying/ reading for pleasure, of course, but for the purposes of bringing your understanding of a text up to the pitch you need for IGCSE exam, why double the workload? There are always two questions for each text on the exam paper, so isn't as though you're not going to get a choice.

Revision is also more onerous if you study 4 texts, as is past paper practice. I also feel that in the exam situation, when you have to choose between two texts and therefore 4 questions, it adds to the stress of the situation rather than alleviating it. It eats into time, too, having to weigh up which of 4 questions you can best do justice to what you've learned.

When people study a text for an exam they can be put off it for life! So that's another reason to minimise what you study and spend the time you WOULD have spent studying two extra texts, actually enjoying English (going to the Globe and seeing a play, or something nice!). Reading for recreation can get forgotten in the exam hurtle!

Comment from a member of the HE-Exams group:

My daughter did Edexcel IGCSE English Lit last year. (We used Catherine Mooney’s course.) She did most of the work in a year, and we found it plenty of work to cover one novel, one play and the poetry anthology in that space of time.

Additional Support For support from other parents whose children have studied, or are studying English Literature, there is a dedicated Facebook group.

English Language and Literature IGCSE for UK Home Educators

See also: English Language Return to Main_Page