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Improving Grades 4-5 in AQA GCSE English Literature

Course Code:


This NEW AQA English Literature course focuses keenly on the students who are aiming to improve their grade from 4 to 5 in GCSE English Literature. The course will provide teachers with the skills they require to successfully boost students’ answers in the questions on Shakespeare, the 19th-century novel, Modern texts, Poetry and Unseen poetry. The day is fully interactive, with a range of activities, tasks and challenges for throughout the day. Teachers will examine papers and responses to help them maximise the full potential of their students in the summer exams.


  • Utilise techniques to quickly identify underperformance and implement effective support strategies for success in the 2023 GCSE AQA English Literature Exams
  • Increased understanding of how to motivate underachieving AQA English Literature learners and improve exam performance
  • How to teach challenging topics and themes
  • Develop effective teaching and learning techniques to help lower ability learners to retain knowledge and better understand language features
  • Gain first-hand guidance, advice and examples for maximising your grade 4-5 students in AQA GCSE English Literature.


Transforming students’ answers: Focusing on the writer not the characters or plot

10.00 – 10.30am
  • Analysing questions – what does ‘How does..’ mean?
  • Know your texts – key characters and themes
  • Talking about language and meaning
  • What is the right way to talk about context?
  • Writing about the writer’s skills/methods not just the text
  • Building students’ skills so that they can approach every question with confidence


Morning Break

10.30 – 10.45am

Paper 1: Analysis not description in Shakespeare

10.45 – 11.30pm
  • Investigating past papers – what are the focus areas – themes/characters?
  • Analysing: Going beyond just reading the extract
  • Establishing why a theme/character important- scaffolding techniques to ensure students can tackle the question
  • Linking to relevant contexts, and having a valid, relevant, logical opinion

Selecting and exploring language in the 19th Century Novel

11.30 – 12.15pm
  • Analysing the extract carefully and identifying key quotations
  • Linking key quotes to produce a more persuasive answer
  • Using quotations effectively to get a grade 5 answer
  • Investigating language used in a past paper question
  • How much quotation should be used?
  • How much focus should there be on the wider novel?
  • Looking at a grade 5 answer and sharing good work

Analysing Key events in Paper 2 Modern Texts

12.15 – 1.00pm
  • 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
  • How much should students write?
  • Having a view and supplying the evidence – a look at a level 5 answer



1.00 – 2.00pm

Developing comparative skills for Paper 2 Poetry Anthology

2.00 – 2.30pm
  • Tips and techniques for comparing and contrasting
  • Knowing the poems – how well do students need to know them?
  • Making comparisons – similarities and differences
  • Comparing poetic techniques and meanings
  • Planning an answer
  • Using planning grids to matching authors’ techniques/meanings in poems



2.30 – 2.45pm

Paper 2: Unseen Poetry – giving students the skills to unlock an unseen text

2.45 – 3.15pm
  • Reading and understanding the poem/s
  • Planning your answer using grids
  • How much to write. How many quotations to use
  • Developing students’ skills to explore
  • Sharing key ideas from Lead Examiner reports

Final Top Tips from the Experts

3.15pm – 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 | Monday 06 November 2023

Please select your preferred date

London | Monday 06 November 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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