So you need to retake your GCSE English language exams. I know it’s frustrating and more than a little annoying. You probably thought (and hoped) that you’d never have to look at a GCSE English paper again. Don’t worry though. With a little support and a good amount of consistent work you will be in a great position to pass your GCSE English later this year. 

To help you along the way we’ve spoken to top English teachers and tutors to compile this ultimate list of the 5 simple steps you need to pass your GCSE English exams later this year. 

Pass GCSE English Retake

1. Know what the examiner wants

The examiner is looking for very specific things from you in each exam question. You need to know exactly what the examiner wants from you in every question. You then need to ‘tick the boxes’ on their mark scheme to ensure you bag maximum marks. Take a look at the exam specifications and past paper mark schemes for your exam board. These will show you exactly what the examiner is looking for at each stage and how to ensure you give them what they’re after. Check out the links to the AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards below to help you get started. 

AQA specification

OCR specification

Edexcel specification

2. Make a Plan

Revision plans are an absolute essential when you start revising. A good revision plan should include key topics and which practice questions to look at each day in the months (yes months – you need to start now!) leading up to the exam. Spend 30 minutes or so putting a good plan together and stick to it. 

I was told this tip when I was at school. I ignored it until I did my A levels, which was a big mistake! Once I started using revision plans I immediately saw how useful they are. It will save you time in the long run, so go on… what are you waiting for… start planning! 

3. Quality and Consistent Revision

Students often tell our teachers “you just can’t revise for English Language”. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings with GCSE exams. I bet a lot of people reading this blog were guilty of this last year when they took their exams. Get ready for the the single best piece of advice you’ll be given: you CAN and you MUST revise for GCSE English Language. 

Use step 2 in this list to get started. Write your plan. Make sure you leave time to go over some key concepts like language techniques, structure and comprehension. Also ensure you do plenty of practice exam questions and timed mock exam papers. Once you’ve done your exam questions for the day, use the mark schemes to mark your own work. This will help you to spot what the examiner wants from you on each question and how you can develop your writing further. 

When revising you should also make sure you ask lots of questions and discuss your work. You can do this with a trusted friend, teacher or parent. You can also book in some time with one of our expert English tutors. Simply contact us to discuss how we can help you. 

4. Keep to time in the exam

Timing in your GCSE English retake exams is crucial. Whichever exam board you are working with there will be a mix of small and big mark questions in section A of both papers. You need to get the timing right so you move through the smaller questions quickly and give yourself plenty of time on the longer questions where there are more marks at stake. Do some practice papers and you’ll soon get the hang of it. 

We aren’t going to go through the timings for every exam board here, but you can email us at info@tutor-in.co.uk and we will be happy to help with specific advice for you. 

5. Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar – know your stuff and be confident

If there’s one acronym that now brings fear rushing over anyone who’s been at school in the last few years then it’s the dreaded SPAG. Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) are key components of the GCSE English Language exams. The specific marks for SPAG are set out on individual longer questions. However, you need to be getting your spelling, punctuation and grammar correct every time in every question. This will not only bag you the marks you need, but it will put your examiner in a good mood when they’re marking your work and we want a happy examiner who will give us the benefit of the doubt if needed. 

Resit GCSE English Language


Follow our 5 simple steps and you’ll be well on the way to passing your GCSE English resit later this year. Work hard, prepare well and you will be fine. Leave a comment below if this has been helpful, or drop us a message to see how we can help you prepare for your GCSE English retake.

If you also have to retake your GCSE maths exam this year then take a look at our advice for retaking GCSE maths.  

2 thoughts on “Pass your GCSE English Resit 2020 – 5 Simple Steps for GCSE English Retake”

    1. Hi Khadija, thanks for your comment. I’m glad our guide for passing your GCSE English has been helpful. Best of luck with your exams!

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