Complete GCSE English Literature past exam list to pass your 2024 GCSEs

Here are THE LATEST 2022 GCSE past papers for English Language and 2022 GCSE Mark Schemes English Language.


Revise for your 2024 GCSE English exams with THE LATEST 2022 GCSE past papers

Use School Entrance Tests’ English GCSE past papers and sample English assessment materials to hone your skills before the 2023 GCSE English exams.

You will find a very wide range of 2022 GCSE past papers and 2021 past GCSE exams. SEE GCSE specialist School Entrance Tests’ GCSE past papers:

What is the 2024 GCSE pass mark?

2022 English Literature GCSE paper

2021 GCSE English Literature past papers

2022 English Literature GCSE Mark Scheme

2021 GCSE Mark Schemes English Literature


GCSE English Tips

Plan your GCSE admin time

  • There’s a lot to do, so make sure you plan your time carefully. On both papers, allow yourself around ten minutes to read the extracts before you start on the questions.
  • After that, consider the number of marks for each question.  The fewer the marks per question the less time you should spend on it.
  • Look at the marks per question before the exams and approximate how long you should spend on each one.
  • Try to build in a little time to check your answers (in particular spelling, punctuation and grammar in the writing sections).


Attempt all your GCSE English questions

  • It’s very important to attempt all the questions in the paper
  • The examiner will be looking to reward what you do but, as King Lear said, ‘nothing will come of nothing’
  • Try to make sure you complete the examination papers to maximize your chances of accessing all available marks.


Answer the questions in the order they appear on the paper

  • Principal examiners spend a lot of time putting together examination papers.
  • They are designed to lead you through the text from beginning to end, and to help you by asking less demanding questions at the start.
  • Therefore, it is not helpful to answer them in a different order. It will also increase the risk that you will forget to answer some altogether.


Read each GCSE essay question carefully

  • Some questions require you to locate facts or make inferences.
  • These are straightforward questions, so don’t over complicate things.
  • Selection is the main skill required, and short answers or a list are fine.
  • However, remember that lists usually won’t be helpful in response to other questions on the papers which require higher order skills such as evaluation.


Stick to the English GCSE section specified

  • Where questions relate to specific parts of the text, make sure that you don’t stray outside the lines specified. You will gain no marks and will waste time.
  • Similarly, where there are two texts, make sure you are referring to the correct one.
  • In comparison and synthesis questions that the examiner knows which text you’re talking about too!

Answer the GCSE English question 

  • It sounds obvious but every year some candidates fail to read the questions carefully.
  • Read the question at least twice. Underlining the key words in the question is a good habit to get into.
  • Pay particular attention to the wording of comparison question.
  • For this question candidates have not just to identify what the writers say about a specific aspect of the texts but also to explore the ways in which they put this across.
  • As a consequence, you have to be absolutely clear about the focus of the question.

More GCSE English Literature Tips

Relevant subject terminology is useful

  • There is still a tendency in literature analysis to go down the “feature spotting” route.
  • Remember, the identification of devices should never be seen as an end in itself nor should it distract you from engaging with the text.
  • Never use a term unless you understand what it means.
  • It is not necessary to name every word class and you should avoid technique spotting where it does not add to the analysis.
  • Most candidates recognise the importance of the adjective “relevant” in this context and usually avoid “feature spotting”.
  • Remember, the identification of devices should never be seen as an end in itself nor should it distract you from engaging with the text.
  • Never use a term unless you understand what it means.


Support comments with well-chosen examples

  • If required by the question, candidates who use appropriate evidence from the text to support their ideas do the job effectively.
  • The best responses are based on a careful consideration of the text, with well selected examples.
  • There is no merit in copying out large chunks of the text, and it wastes valuable time.


Pay attention to “what” and “how”

What happens, the sequence of events or the information that is given in a text is just as relevant as the devices used by writers. If you are looking at how a writer creates a sense of drama or tension in narrative writing for example, then look at what is happening, the content of the text as well as stylistic devices. Are the characters in trouble?  Is there a lot of action? Is there a sense of danger/excitement and, if so, why?    Remember, a writer’s use of language and structure is important but so too are actions, events and narrative details.


Tracking carefully pays off

It makes sense in both papers to track through the specified parts of the extract when answering questions. Not only does this make your answer more coherent, it also shows a recognition of the importance of sequencing and development in both fiction and non-fiction texts.

Candidates who track the text methodically should have plenty of material upon which to base their answer. However, by looking at use of language, tone and structure, the best candidates are able to push into the higher marks.


Don’t be over ambitious when writing questions

For creative writing, a small number of characters will keep things manageable, as will a focused narrative without an over- complicated plot. You haven’t got time to write a novel! Try to make sure that the narrative has a clear sense of direction and structure.  Keep the reader with you and engaged throughout.


Keep it real

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be imaginative, but it’s important that your writing is convincing. For creative writing, accounts of your own experience, with a little embellishment if necessary, can often work well. Similarly, in non-fiction writing, use of real examples to illustrate points can be a good idea.

For non-fiction English essays, don’t forget…

  1. Firstly, your audience – Who are you writing for? The language you use in a speech to your classmates will probably be different to that you’d use in a report to the Headteacher, for example.
  2. Secondly, the purpose. The purpose of your writing will also inform the choices you make when writing. For example, a letter to a newspaper to persuade readers will look different from an article written to inform or entertain.
  3. Thirdly, the context

It’s important that your writing shows some awareness of the context specified. A letter should look like a letter, for example, with an appropriate greeting and sign off.

Develop points made in non-fiction writing, add detail and flesh out your writing with purposeful relevant information, arguments and opinions. Where possible, create an effective reader-writer relationship through devices such as statements, questions and direct address and make sure the approach you take is clear and coherent.


Watch your spelling and punctuation

Allow yourself time to check this aspect and be particularly aware of words you know cause you difficulty, like tricky homophones. Make sure full stops and commas are used correctly – they are never interchangeable – and be careful with apostrophes. Know when they are used; don’t sprinkle them about randomly.

Take care with tenses

Whichever tense you choose to write in, try to use it correctly.  The most common errors seen by examiners are in subject/verb agreement, switching from past to present tense without meaning to do so (most common in narrative writing) and using the wrong ending on a past tense verb.


On both papers, allow yourself time to read and annotate the extracts and the poems. It is a good idea to read the extract or poem first for an overall feel of it and then annotate it with the focus of the question in mind. Don’t be afraid to annotate all over your exam paper! Some candidates find it useful to highlight or underline the key words in the question.

Attempt all the questions on the texts you have studied

It’s very important to attempt all the questions on your chosen texts in the paper. The examiner will be looking to reward what you do but try to make sure you complete the papers to maximise your chances of accessing all available marks. The last question on the Eduqas Component 1 paper has the highest tariff on the paper so make sure you have heeded the advice above and planned your time carefully!

Please make sure you are only answering the questions for the texts that you have studied. Every year, candidates lose lots of marks because they have not read the rubric carefully and they attempt to answer questions on texts they have not studied.

Answer the question asked!

It sounds obvious but every year some candidates fail to read the questions carefully. Make sure you know which character you are being asked about; there is a big difference between Mr Birling and Mrs Birling!

Track through the extract in the extract questions

The Shakespeare question for Eduqas Component 1 asks you to look at a specific extract from the play you have studied. Track through the extract carefully. There are very few stage directions in Shakespeare so look carefully at the words that are used. It’s important to remember that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed, watched and enjoyed so always keep the fact that it was written for an audience in mind when you are answering the question.

Write a strong opening which sums up your argument overall. Keep the focus of the question in mind: if it is asking about mood and atmosphere then make sure your answer discusses mood and atmosphere! Look at the beginning, the middle and the end of the extract. It was chosen very carefully for a reason.

Know when context is assessed

Not all questions on the paper assess context so make sure you are not wasting valuable time by referring to unnecessary contextual factors where context is not assessed.

Where it is assessed, you will need to show a clear appreciation of how contextual factors influence characters, themes and authors. Make sure you answer the question, and avoid contextual ‘bolt-ons’ details that are not relevant to the question being asked.

Write a short plan for the essay questions

You will be writing for over half an hour on some of the questions. For the longer essay questions you need to make sure you have gathered your thoughts and thought about what you want to say. Once you have read the extract or poem and annotated, you should give yourself a couple of minutes to plan your approach. You can write a short plan in your answer booklet.

It can be a bullet pointed list or a flowchart or a mind map or whatever works best for you! Pick out 3 or 4 key points or things that you think are important and relevant. A little time spent planning at the beginning of the exam will help to make sure your essay has a clear and coherent structure and you have covered everything you need to.


Track your character or theme across the whole text

Essay questions will often ask you to consider a character or a theme. Make sure you show your knowledge of the whole text. Look at important turning points and key contrasts and their effects. Revision tasks that involve sequencing the events of the play will help you to do this.

Support comments with well-chosen and short quotations

Candidates who use appropriate evidence from the text to support their ideas are able to access the higher bands. The best responses are based on a careful consideration of the text, with well selected examples.

There is no merit in writing out large chunks of the text, and it wastes valuable time. In the extract question, one or two words from the extract are often sufficient.

Don’t get bogged down by quotations in the essay question

When you get to the essay questions it can be very tempting to try and cram in every quotation you have learnt, even if it is irrelevant to the question asked. GCSEs were never supposed to be a test of memory.

When you are preparing for your exams try and learn three or four key quotes for each of the main characters and themes.

Use the source-based response to help you access AO2

On Component 2, candidates will have the source-based response to help them. The source-based response is designed to help candidates fulfil the requirement of AO2 (looking at how writers use language).

The extract chosen may come from any part of the text, the beginning, the middle or the end, but it will always have a direct link to the question asked. Use it as a springboard for wider discussion and to explore key words or images.

Engage with the poems

When you have to analyse two poems, make sure you tracking carefully through the first poem. The examiner is looking for your personal response to the poems which should be carefully supported by textual references. A good revision task is to group the poems in the anthology into themes.

You do need to revise the anthology carefully, so you can make good use of textual detail in the exam. Practise analysing a range of poems in preparation for the unseen poetry question. Make sure you think about relevant comparative points when approaching the second part of the task. Avoid tenuous comparisons such as the number of lines or how many full stops there are! Comparisons should be meaningful and be based on theme or approach.

Proof read carefully

Proof read responses carefully to eradicate simple errors such as missing capital letters or apostrophes. Learn key spellings such as character names and the names of authors.


Improving Spoken English

Strategies for engaging the audience

Teachers could draw candidates’ attention to some communication skills or strategies which they could adopt to improve the presentation of their ideas such as:

  • Standing up to deliver their presentations. This can help candidates appear confident and boost feelings of confidence, even if they don’t necessarily feel it. Standing up can also create a more appropriate sense of occasion and formality which can lift some performances. Of course, there is no requirement to stand up and candidates can speak engagingly while sitting. However, for some candidates this may be a good strategy to adopt.
  • Making eye contact, facing the audience and using some inflection or intonation are important skills. Some candidates write persuasive speeches with lots of rhetorical flourishes and varied vocabulary, but reading them, head lowered in a monotone from a piece of paper or a phone screen makes it very difficult to engage the audience. Turning to the side or even right around to read from a PowerPoint screen is also problematic. It is important to think about tone, pace and even volume when making key points.

Simply reading downloaded information or even a well-crafted speech does not help candidates to meet the needs of the audience or demonstrate command of a range of strategies to engage.

Writing a speech can, of course, be a good way to reinforce skills needed for Component 2 Writing and a useful starting point for the presentation. This is a Spoken Language task, however, not a writing one and candidates need to practise their delivery if they are to meet Distinction criteria.


Organising material effectively to meet the audience needs

Another criterion which candidates aiming at higher grades need to think about is effective organisation of their material in order to avoid a straightforward, descriptive approach.

They could consider:

  • The best order for their ideas – what to start with to grab the audience’s interest and ‘hook’ the listener, an anecdote perhaps, or an unusual fact
  • Which rhetorical devices are appropriate and relevant and when best to use them: questions; lists; emotive language; facts and statistics; quoted views; reference to authority figures; exclamatory style, etc…
  • How visual images or other props might enhance their presentations.
  • The best use of PowerPoint. Less is definitely more. Look at how professional speakers use PPT to accentuate their points rather than be the point in its entirety.
  • How long the presentations should be. It is difficult to demonstrate a range of strategies if the presentation is very short, less than two minutes, for instance. However, very long talks stretching beyond the ten minutes advised as a maximum for the whole exercise, including response to feedback, rarely goes hand-in-hand with effective organisation to meet the audience needs or a really engaging presentation. Thoughtful editing is a sophisticated strategy and, of course, a useful transferrable skill
  • How best to finish the presentation rather than simply saying, ‘That’s it’ or ‘Yeah, so…’ A more effective conclusion could simply involve summing up the main arguments, posing a thoughtful question, confidently asserting ‘I’m sure you agree with me after hearing my presentation that…’ or warmly inviting some questions
  • How to invite and respond to questions. Candidates could consider the difference between responding to a tricky question with ‘I don’t know’ and ‘That’s a very interesting question and I’m not sure I can give a black and white answer but I do think…

Be enthusiastic about the topic

A smile, confident body language and some real passion can be very helpful strategies here! Make your audience want to listen to what you have to say.

Obviously, not all candidates will be confident enough, or sufficiently motivated, to develop all of these skills; they need only make a basic attempt to consider their audience for a Pass grade.

Encourage pupils to practise these skills, enjoy the art of talking and feel confident in their final presentations.  You never know what budding politicians, actors or TED talkers might be waiting to blossom in front of your eyes!

Key GCSE English themes:

2023 GCSE English Mark schemes ; GCSE English exam tips and 2024 GCSE English past exams.