Frequently asked questions

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about our Edexcel GCSEs and Certificates in English. 

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GCSE English Literature

5ET03 Shakespeare and Contemporary Drama 

Certificating summer 2015 (15.5.15) Certificating summer 2016 (15.5.16)
Tasks marked ‘valid from June 2014 to May 2015’

Tasks marked ‘valid from June 2015 to May 2016’

I’ve realised I’ve done the wrong controlled assessment task with my students. What should I do?

You will need to carry out the correct task with your students. If you feel that there are exceptional circumstances that prevent you from doing so, please contact the assessment team by emailing emenglish@pearson.com.

Why has the English Literature specification changed?

In 2012, Ofqual required all exam boards to review their specifications following its decision to “tighten” GCSEs in certain subjects, including English literature. The aim was to ensure that students covered the whole curriculum. With English literature, this review included making sure whole texts were studied; ensuring all assessment objectives were covered; and ensuring the clarity and consistency of all mark schemes.

When do we start teaching the new specification?

The 2013 English Literature specification was for first teaching in September 2013 (two-year courses) or September 2014 (one-year courses). This is a linear course and the first assessment is summer 2015. 

Where can I find support materials for the updated specification, such as SAMs and exemplar materials?

You'll find them in the relevant category of the course materials (for example, controlled assessment or sample assessment materials). They're all clearly labelled with GCSE English Literature 2013 in the title.

When did the 2012 specification come to an end?

The final assessment of the 2012 specification was summer 2014. There will not be a retake opportunity for this specification as the revised 2013 specification will be assessed from summer 2015. Any student wanting to retake English literature after their summer 2014 results will need to follow the revised 2013 specification. 

What changes have been made to the Edexcel GCSE in English Literature?

This document gives a full explanation of the changes.  

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In September 2015 for two-year courses or September 2016 for one-year courses, for post-16 students for example. The new GCSEs will be examined in summer 2017 for the first time. 

International GCSEs from any awarding organisation count in performance table measures. Edexcel English Certificates will count in 2014, 2015 and, for the last time, in 2016.

Each Certificate is equivalent to a GCSE and, as such, until summer 2016, won’t be viewed as a non-GCSE qualification in the performance table rules.

The Certificate in English Language will receive the A*-C points for the maths and English indicator and will count towards the English Baccalaureate in the same way as GCSE English Language until summer 2015. From summer 2016, as with GCSE, there are new arrangements for English in performance measures. Please see the ‘Performance measures from summer 2016 (reported early 2017)’ section below.

On 24 July 2014, the DfE published an update on the types of qualifications to be counted in 2017 school performance tables. The only English qualifications that will count in the 2017 secondary school performance tables will be reformed GCSEs.

Yes, until summer 2016 Certificates and GCSEs can be offered interchangeably. However, only reformed GCSEs will count in school performance measures from summer 2017. 

No, on 24 July 2014, the DfE published an update on the types of qualifications to be counted in 2017 school performance tables. The only English qualifications that will count in the 2017 secondary school performance tables will be reformed GCSEs. 

Only the result of a student’s first attempt for subjects in the GCSE family - including Edexcel GCSE English, English Language and English Literature and Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 Certificates in English Language and English Literature - will count in school performance tables.

This affects Year 11 (academic year 2013-2014) whose results will appear in performance tables in January 2015, and all other students in Years 9 or 10 preparing to take English subjects in the GCSE family.

Students who attempted an English subject from the GCSE family before 29 September 2013 result will have the better of either their pre-29 September 2013 or their next attempt counted.

Schools should be aware that if students have attempted a GCSE or Certificate in English language, their English result will only count in performance measures; if they also attempt GCSE or Certificate English literature. Attempting GCSE English after having sat GCSE/Certificate in English language (post 29 September 2013) will result in the student not meeting the English performance measure.

As International GCSEs in English language and literature do not count in school performance measures, they are not affected by this rule.

Further details about this announcement, including guidance for schools making decisions about early entry at GCSE, are available from the Department for Education.

There will be four key measures:

‘Progress 8’: students’ progress measured across eight subjects: English; mathematics; three other English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects (sciences, computer science, geography, history and languages); and three further subjects, which can be from the range of EBacc subjects, or can be any other approved, high-value arts, academic, or vocational qualification.

Attainment 8, showing pupils’ average achievement in the same suite of subjects as the Progress 8 measure.

English and mathematics. The percentage of pupils achieving a C grade or above in both English (either language or literature) and mathematics.

The EBacc. Showing the percentage of pupils achieving good grades across a range of academic subjects.
Schools can opt into the new system for the summer 2015 results (i.e. for students who started Year 10 in September 2013).

The points for English will only be doubled if the student has attempted* both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature (or, in 2016 only, Edexcel Certificates). The double weighting will be applied to the better of the two grades. If double-weighted, English contributes 20% of the measure, while the remaining six subjects will each contribute 10% (mathematics also contributes 20 %). GCSE English will still be eligible to count in summer 2016, and will be automatically double-weighted because pupils will have studied both English Language and English Literature to achieve this qualification.

*An “attempt” for English Language or English Literature is currently defined as any result that is graded A*-G or U (but not X).

Students need to study both English Language and English Literature in order to meet the requirements of the English programmes of study: key stage 4, National curriculum in England (updated July 2014).

The new Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures to be used from summer 2016 encourage students to enter both qualifications.

The points for English will be double weighted if the student has attempted* both GCSE English Language and English Literature (or, in 2016 only, Edexcel Certificates or GCSE English). The double weighting will be applied to the better of the two grades. If double weighted, English contributes 20% of the measure, as does mathematics, while the remaining six subjects will each contribute 10%.

If the student does not take English Literature alongside English Language, then there is no double weighting of points for English achievement. The English Language result will contribute only 10% towards the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures, and the overall measures will only have been 90% met - in effect the student's total points from across 9 subjects will still be divided by 10 to get an average grade achieved.

However, from summer 2016 the new headline measure for English and mathematics achievement can be met without the student having attempted both language and literature.

For the Ebacc separate measure, a pupil must study both English language and English Literature, and achieve a C grade or better in at least one of these qualifications, to satisfy the English requirement (in 2016, a C in Combined English would be sufficient).

*An “attempt” for English Language or English Literature is currently defined as any result that is graded A*-G or U (but not X).