Tookit for GCSE English

July 18, 2018 Eleanor W

How to approach the GCSE English exams

Approaching GCSE English Literature and Language Questions

Although there are some differences between the literature and language papers and how to approach individual questions, which we will cover in your tuition sessions, this sheet provides a toolkit to approaching all of the essay questions that will appear on your exams. If you can revise how to approach the GCSEs in general, you will be able to tackle any question they throw at you!

First steps:

  • Read the question, underlining key words.

For example: How has the writer structured the text to interest you as a reader?

  • Go back to the text, or your knowledge of the novel or poem and start making a plan on how to approach the question. This can be in bullet points, but will help remind you what you need to cover in your answer. Also underline key words in the text you need to use.

Then, when considering these type of questions, think of all you have learnt during GCSE English.


  • Context
  • Comparisons
  • Speech
  • Showing or telling
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Viewpoint
  • Tone
  • Style
  • Words
  • Phrases
  • Metaphors
  • Similes
  • Analogy
  • Personification
  • Alliteration
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Irony
  • Sarcasm
  • Rhetoric
  • Bias
  • Descriptive language
  • Narrator
  • Structure
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence forms
  • Imagery
  • Type of text
  • Sounds
  • Rhythm
  • Rhyme
  • Vocabulary
  • Age of text

  • Lastly, before you start writing, remind yourself how to structure your essay including a good introduction and conclusion. Also remember your PEE paragraphs:

    • Point
    • Example
    • Explain

    Always return to your argument and link your paragraphs together, turning PEE into PEEL.

    Finally, remember to be confident, even if you don’t feel confident in the exam, fake it!


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