GCSE English Coursework

Are you looking for ways to improve your GCSE English coursework to achieve higher grades? This article will guide you and provide tips on achieving a 9 in the English language GCSE coursework. Although there is no surefire way of gaining exceptional success, following these tips will help you improve your performance in the exam and raise your grades.

What Are the Best Ways to Ace Your GCSE English Coursework in a Better Way?

Although there are numerous ways to improve your grades, some tips will work wonders for your academic progress. Following are the tips you should follow to ace your GCSE English coursework impeccably:

  1. Be aware of the mark schemes
  2. Use specified terms while analysing a text
  3. Be Insightful
  4. Practice critical analysis
  5. Get personalised help
  6. Write after proper planning
  7. Get acquainted with a wide range of texts

Let’s discuss these tips in detail now.

  1. Be Aware Of The Mark Schemes

All exam boards publish their mark schemes on their websites, and it is helpful to spend some time looking at the top levels and identifying the key skills tested for each question and the key descriptors. The bullet points in each mark scheme band separate the various skills being tested for that question. Paying close attention to these will allow you to ensure that you include everything the examiner is looking for. You might be interested in the following links:

  • Edexcel
  • AQA
  • Eduqas / WJEC
  • OCR

These resources will prove pretty helpful for you in the process of preparation for your GCSE English coursework.

  1. Use Specified Terms While Analysing A Text

Most mark schemes include the words ‘confident’ as top band descriptors. Using the correct terminology and identifying more specialised techniques will help your answers come across in this manner. There are many glossaries of literary terms available online, and it is worthwhile to learn the terms and practise identifying them. You should also be familiar with the basic word classes (noun, adjective, verb, adverb, etc.) and try to use them in your response to sound as academic as possible: Rather than saying, “this word shows us…”, say “this adverb shows us…” or “this preposition shows us..”

  1. Be Insightful

While reviewing papers for your GCSE English coursework, you will notice that key descriptors in the top bands of every mark scheme for the Reading section of the exam will typically include words like ‘perceptive’ or ‘insightful’ – but how do you know if you’re being perceptive? What distinguishes an insightful response? It is difficult to define, and some argue that it cannot be taught: you are discerning. However, a simple tip can help nudge your answer towards one that is perceptive, and that is to consider other interpretations.

When analysing a linguistic or structural technique, add a sentence that says, “this could also mean…” and provide an alternate interpretation. By including a different, alternate perspective on what the writer is attempting to say, you are fully exploring the text and increasing your chances of reaching the top bands of the mark scheme.

  1. Practice Critical Analysis

Many students believe they cannot revise for English because the texts are unseen, but this is not true. As with any exam, the more revision and practice you do, the better your chances of getting a 9. Choose an extract from any text and practise identifying literary techniques, considering their effects, and examining how the extract is structured and why you believe the writer chose to structure it in this manner. Train yourself to think like the author whenever you read something. Why did they choose that specific word or metaphor? What did they mean by that particular image? At this point, how do they want the reader to feel? Understanding the writer’s process implies that you are exploring the text, which allows you to be more insightful and wise.

  1. Get Personalised Help

When achieving higher grades, one-on-one support, guidance, and feedback from a tutor are invaluable, giving you extra time to work on exam technique and individualised, real-time responses to push you further to achieve excellence. A tutor who is also a qualified and experienced subject specialist with exam paper grading experience is even better! You can also consider getting GCSE English coursework help online to improve your grades.

  1. Write After Proper Planning

It’s tempting to disregard this section of your revision because the reading is the more technical of the two and consists of several questions, whereas the writing is only one. However, nearly all exam boards assign 50% weightage to the writing process of your GCSE English coursework. You should allow yourself the same amount of time in the exam for the one writing question as you did for all of the reading questions, and if this isn’t possible (as some exam boards have more reading questions than writing), you should still devote at least 45 minutes to the writing task.

Plan it, write it, and then proofread it. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are all important, and careless errors can cost you points. A five-minute final check could mean the difference between an 8 and a 9. For the top bands in the mark scheme, it is obvious that you must use a wide range of vocabulary, but other factors that distinguish a top band writing answer are:

  • Focussed Punctuation

Use dashes, semi-colons, brackets, and ellipsis instead of commas and full stops.

  • Sentence Alternation

Use short sentences sparingly for effect, and experiment with different sentence starters, such as starting with a subordinate clause or an adverb. Instead of writing, “I opened the package quickly although I was terrified of what might be inside”, try: “Although I was terrified of what might be inside, I opened the package quickly” or: “Quickly, I opened the package; terrified of what might be inside”. Play with words!

  1. Get Acquainted With A Wide Range Of Texts

You don’t have to read a novel every week, but you need to be familiar with various texts to be confident in tackling what you might encounter in the exam. The nineteenth-century text is the most notable of these. Many of these are available online or for free download on devices such as the Kindle. Regularly reading excerpts from these will help you become acquainted with the period’s common vocabulary and the more complex sentence structures and grammatical forms and will help you greatly prepare your GCSE English coursework.

If someone is described as having a “tallow countenance,” it is important to understand not only that this refers to a pale face but also what “tallow” is and why it is such a specific description! You will also be required to analyse non-fiction and write in various non-fiction styles, so read magazine and newspaper articles, famous speeches, letters, diaries, and autobiographies to get a feel for how these different texts are structured well as their styles and tones of voice.


Although it’s not easy to score high in your GCSE English coursework, following the tips mentioned in the article will help you greatly. If you are not good at this coursework, work on getting the basic skills right, and you’ll ace your exam!


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