How to get a grade 9 in GCSE English Literature & Language

This guide will give a detailed explanation on 1 of the many ways to achieve a grade 9 in English GCSE. This guide is specific to english and does not contain revision techniques revelant to most other subjects. If you are aiming for grades 6-7, these revision techniques do not apply.

This guide also includes a grade 9 essay from a real gcse exam

Quotations & Vocabulary

Quotations are amongst the most important things in English literature, that being said, examiners don’t care if you can memorise a quote. They care that you can analyse it.

Ideally, you should be learning at least 15 quotations for each book you are doing, and the crucial part of this is that you not only need to learn what the quotation is, but you need to know how to analyse it and adapt it to at least 2-3 of the possible questions, to get a sense of what I mean here is an example in Jekyll and Hyde.

Quotation – “I unleashed my alter ego Hyde”

Analysis – what does this tell you about Hyde? What does this tell you about Jekyll? What does this tell you about what other people think of Hyde? what does this tell you about duality?

those are 4 questions that you need to be able to answer with that specific quote, as the question in your exam could ask you to talk about duality, talk about Hyde, and talk about Jekyll etc… When learning to analyse these quotes, make sure you use advanced vocabulary. An easy way to do this is to think of a word you are going to say, and then type it into https://www.thesaurus.com/ and use another word instead. Our instagram @Cognitate has some useful vocabulary to use in your exam

Depending on your exam board the possible questions could be different, so be sure to research the type of questions that can be asked by looking at the relevant specification, just remember that for everything you learn, you need to know what question they will ask when you describe it, that way it can be much more accurate and straight to the point.

How to surprise the examiner


You need to research obscure meanings that will surprise the examiner, for instance with Jekyll and Hyde, the author wanted us to believe that they were gay, and since homosexuality was frowned upon at the time of publishing, Stevenson wanted to convey that message in a more hidden way. Shown in this video here: https://youtu.be/Bhq4x5CTA58

There are many youtubers that make a lot of videos on obscure meanings like that. You can incorporate this into every question.

This also applies to the poems, all of the poems have hidden meanings that are not obvious for all the readers. and make sure you know everything you can compare every poem with.

Revision techniques for English GCSE

Due to the nature of the new specification, you can achieve a high grade from writing most of your essays from memory. This is especially prominent in English Language. This includes a storyline for your written task and sentences used to describe a certain object or person. In English Literature this mainly involves memorising the quotations, and like mentioned above, the analysis of the quotation.

Another important aspect for the books and poems is to keep your answer relevant to the question, and to do this, only learn things that answer a question you think can be asked. Everything you learn must be linked back to a possible question.

For English language you need to have a strong idea on what your story is going to be about and what happens, you need to make it simple and able to adapt to what the question asks.

If you don’t understand the book (especially Shakespeare), then don’t worry. There are thousands of online resources to help you understand it better, and if you aren’t learning anything by reading the book then it’s not necessary.

Some online revision resources to help understand the books:

Informal Writing

A common place to lose marks in English Language, is using formal language when you should be using informal language. This happens when your task in english language is to “write a magazine article”, or “write a blog article for a recent trip”.

Students often think they will get more marks by using formal writing, however that is not the case. Be aware though, that your spelling, punctuation and grammar must still be correct. The major difference is how the language must be more informal and conversational.

Grade 9 Essays

Click here to view a grade 9 English Literature essay from a real GCSE exam.

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