Changes to English Literature – GCSE 2021

Exam boards are updating their specifications to the changes in the English Literature GCSE exams, we’ve summarised the changes.

UPDATE: AQA has changed it’s position and made the Poetry Anthology optional (along with 20th Century Drama and 19th Century Prose). Unseen poetry remains compulsory with Shakespeare.

At the beginning of August Ofqual confirmed a number of changes to the Summer 2021 GCSE exams. The intention being to increase teaching time. Limited subjects, including English Literature and History, were also to have content cut by way of introducing more optional content. The specific cuts are for the exam boards to determine, with approval from Ofqual.

Unhelpfully, the media tended to run with a headline indicating that Poetry was to be dropped. That was not the full extent of it. As a result many people simply believe that they’d no longer have to study poems.

The changes

Each GCSE and iGCSE English Literature exam spec includes:

  • a Shakespeare (or other heritage) text,
  • a modern drama
  • a 19th century prose
  • a poetry anthology

Ofqual guidance was that the Shakespeare should be mandatory for everyone. It was for the exam boards to determine a path including two from the remaining three elements.

We are still waiting for confirmation from some of the exam boards.

BoardMandatoryOptions/Change
AQA* Shakespeare
* Unseen poetry
Two of:
* Modern text
* 19th Cen. text
* Poetry anthology
Cambridge/CIE
(iGCSE)
* Everything 1
CCEA* Shakespeare
* Poetry
* Drama
Change:
* No prose
Eduqas* Shakespeare
* Modern text
Two of:
* Poetry anthology
* Unseen poetry
* 19th Cen. Text
OCR* ShakespeareTwo of:
* Modern text
* 19th Cen. text
* Poetry
Person/Edexcel
(GCSE)
* Shakespeare
* Modern text
One of:
* 19th Cen. text
* Poetry
Person/Edexcel (iGCSE)* Shakespeare
* Modern text
* 19th Cen. text
* Unseen poetry
Change:
* No poetry anthology
SQA
(N5)
WJEC* Shakespeare
* Poetry Anthology
Either
Unit 1
* Other Culture Prose
* Unseen poetry
– OR –
Unit 2
* Drama
* Prose

1 Cambridge iGCSE prefer all sections to be examined. There is a pathway to reduce the content and, with special agreement, a calculated non-assessed mark will be given. We’re not yet sure how that calculation will be made.

Your school will let you know which path they have chosen, where your options determine the exam papers. For those where the paper includes more options for the student, it’s going to be even more important to be able to select questions well.

Take control of your time and studies with our GCSE Bundle.

Everything you need to get going quickly, tailored to the courses you are taking.

STAY INFORMED!
Are you affected by changes to GCSEs in 2021?
Once further changes are confirmed to next year's exams we will send you an email.

You'll also receive a £5 discount code on the next screen.
Let me know
You are NOT signing up to a mailing list. Just news of GCSE 2021. 
close-link