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Achieving Grade 8-9 in AQA GCSE English Literature

Course Code:


This course is for all teachers of AQA GCSE English Literature wanting to help students reach the highest grades. It offers new and innovative ways of teaching the skills pupils require to successfully answer the questions on Shakespeare, the 19th-century novel, Modern texts, Poetry and Unseen poetry. This interactive day will examine quality responses to help pupils perform and achieve to their full potential.


    • The course aims to provide as many ideas for teaching GCSE English Literature as possible
    • The course will focus on ways of improving the performance of the most able pupils in your GCSE English Literature classrooms
    • Course materials will be directly relevant to the needs of GCSE English Literature teachers
    • The course pack will be usable immediately in the classroom
    • Gain first-hand guidance, advice and examples for maximising your grade 8-9 candidates in AQA GCSE
English Literature which is especially difficult when you are looking at the top end of results.


Grades 8-9: What do they involve?

10.00 – 10.30am
  • Structure of AQA GCSE English Literature and what this requires of the best students
  • Key attributes of Grades 8-9 students in the classroom
  • Grades 8-9: what are the differences between these?
  • Analysis of the mark schemes – what were the examiners looking for
  • Getting top level students to be efficient and produce the right amount in exam conditions in extended writing


Morning Break

10.30 – 10.45am

Paper 1: Shakespeare – Identifying Intent – essential for grade 8-9 answers

10.45 – 11.30pm
  • Investigating past papers – what are the focus areas – themes/characters?
  • Analysing the extract carefully
  • Why would Shakespeare want to focus on a theme/character?
  • Do we see the themes/characters in the same way today?
  • Having an opinion on Shakespeare’s intent

Identifying Intent AND including relevant context in the 19th Century Novel

11.30 – 12.15pm
  • Using context relevantly and appropriately in a grade 8-9 answer
  • Investigating past papers – what are the focus areas – themes/characters?
  • Analysing the extract carefully and deciding why Dickens might focus on a theme/character?
  • Looking at language used in the extract – being a language detective
  • How much quotation should be used?
  • Looking at a grade 8/9 answer and sharing good work



12.15 – 1.15pm

Strategies to achieve grades 8-9 in Modern Texts

1.15 – 2.15pm
  • Investigating past papers – what are the focus areas – themes/characters?
  • Analysing the extract carefully and deciding why the author might focus on a theme/character?
  • Quotation versus key moments/events in the text: Using quotations and order to achieve grades 8-9
  • How much should students write?
  • Having a view and supplying the evidence – a look at a level 8-9 answer



2.15 – 2.30pm

Developing comparative skills for the Poetry Anthology

2.30 – 3.00pm
  • Comparing and contrasting techniques and ideas in a grade 8-9 answer
  • Knowing the poems – how well do students need to know them?
  • Making comparisons – similarities and differences
  • Poetic techniques versus meaning – which is more important?
  • Planning an answer
  • Matching authors’ techniques/ideas in poems using planning grids

Paper 2: Unseen Poetry – using language skills to unlock an unseen text

3.00 – 3.30pm
  • Reading, analysing and understanding the poem/s
  • Planning your answer using grids
  • How much to write. How many quotations to use.
  • Developing students’ skills to explore and analyse
  • Sharing key ideas from Lead Examiner reports

Final Top Tips from the Experts

3.30pm – 3.45pm
  • Top Ten Examiner Tips for success in English Literature
  • Key points: how to improve students final grade
  • What you can do after today to boost students exam chances





London | Thursday 07 December 2023

Please select your preferred date

London | Thursday 07 December 2023

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Liz Calcott is an experienced senior examiner, moderator, advocate and trainer for AQA English at GCSE and A Level. This became an even more significant role in January 2016 and she now also creates and delivers CPD courses in English Language and English Literature for teachers. She also has significant teaching experience in a range of schools in English at both GCSE and A level.


  • Heads of English
  • Those with responsibilities for leading in English
  • All teachers of AQA GCSE English Language
  • Teachers of GCSE English


  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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