How to Resit GCSE English Online | GCSEs for Adults & Teens
GCSE English is more important than you might think. Don’t let failing it on your first attempt hold you back!
If you’ve previously failed your GCSE English, you might find that you need to resit in order to progress to the next stage of your career, or if - like our students Vicky and Asher - you want to take your career in a completely new direction.
Resitting is now easier than ever as you can study your GCSE English Language or English Literature online. This means you can study at your own pace and fit learning around your busy schedule.
Whether you’re resitting GCSE English straightaway or years after your first attempt, online learning can be the key to unlocking your potential and bagging the grade you need.
So, how do you go about resitting online?
English Literature vs English Language
If you’re resitting to get into a particular course or to apply for a certain job, you should always check if they specify the English Language or English Literature GCSE before you commit to the course - but what's the difference between the two?
GCSE English Language will help you develop your skills in reading and writing in English. You’ll learn how to effectively perform close readings where you read, analyse and answer questions on passages of different texts. You’ll also develop sharp writing skills by learning to write in a number of different styles and to specific guidelines. Your learning will also explore both personal and creative writing alongside factual pieces like news articles and blogs.
GCSE English Literature, on the other hand, gives you the chance to explore great works of literature. You’ll read a broad range of classic literary texts and learn to critically evaluate them effectively. You’ll study different styles including novels, plays, and poetry - giving you a thorough understanding of English Literature in all its forms.
This course will not only enhance your vocabulary but help you understand how writers connect with and persuade their audience. It will also train you to develop your own techniques for doing the same.
Choose the right course provider
While a quick online search will throw up a large number of providers offering online GCSE English courses, before you hand over any money, you should always be 100% sure that what you’re purchasing will suit your needs.
The first thing you need to check is that the course has been accredited by a recognised exam board like Pearson Edexcel or AQA. This lets you know that the course materials will be of a high standard and that the course syllabus has been properly designed to prepare you for the exam.
Next, you should make sure that your course comes with a personal English tutor that is there to help you when you run into difficulty with the course material. If you have someone there to help and provide feedback and reassurance, you’ll be much more likely to keep going and gain your pass than if you’re left to struggle alone.
Also, take note of any extra support that’s on offer - these options can include unlimited online tutor support, a tutor helpline, student forums and live online classrooms.
The final thing to consider is the structure of the course. Some providers will only allow you to enrol at set times of the year or insist that you log a set amount of study hours per week. Other providers, like us, take a much more flexible approach that lets you set your own schedule and work at your own pace.
What works for you will ultimately depend on what other commitments you have and how much flexibility you think you’ll need, so have a good think about this before you settle on a course.
Plan your studies
Once you’ve enrolled on your course, get yourself off to a strong start by coming up with a clear plan for your studies, getting yourself organised, and putting that plan into action.
The first thing to do is buy any extra texts you need for your studies. For English Language, this is likely to be a textbook so remember to check that you’re getting the right edition. If you’re unsure, always double-check with your course provider.
If you’ve chosen English Literature, you’ll need to get yourself the novels, plays or poetry text that you’re going to be reading. Don’t worry about spending a lot of money on these either; most classics can be picked up from local charity shops or online second-hand booksellers.
Next, you should pick a good study spot. The ideal space for your online studies should be somewhere that has Wi-Fi access and is distraction-free enough that you can concentrate easily. Where you choose to set up camp is totally up to you and you can even choose to mix it up a bit - the beauty of online study is that it gives you the freedom to learn where and when you choose.
Now it’s time to create your study plan. If you start off with a clear, straightforward plan, you’re much more likely to stay on track. The great thing about studying GCSE English online as opposed to in a classroom is that you’re not restricted to a set class timetable, so you can work through the course as quickly or as slowly as you want.
Remember to be realistic about what you can achieve though. Setting yourself impossible targets is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you're stuck on ways to set your plan in motion, study planners are a great way to stay on top of your learning as seeing everything laid out in front of you will keep you focused and on the right track. Download our free study planner to help you get started today.
Use past papers to get ready for the exam
We really can’t stress enough how valuable a tool past papers are to your revision. They let you get a feel for the format of the paper, practice your timing and spot any gaps in your knowledge.
Which papers you’ll need, however, will depend on if you’ve opted for English Language or English Literature, and which exam board you're studying with.
The Pearson Edexcel IGCSE English Language exam consists of one paper with three sections; section A requires you to read set passages of text and answer questions, section B tests your ability to write to specific guidelines and section C asks you to produce an extended piece of writing. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, an IGCSE is an International GCSE and is globally recognised as equal to a regular GCSE.)
The AQA GCSE English Language exam has two papers that each require you to read texts and answer questions on them and produce pieces of writing.
The Pearson Edexcel GCSE English Literature exam has two papers that cover all the texts you’ll have read, testing your understanding of them and your ability to write informed critical responses to them. Paper 1 covers Shakespeare and Post-1914 Literature and paper 2 covers the 19th-century novel and Poetry since 1789.
The AQA GCSE English Literature also has two papers which will assess you in the same way as the Edexcel exam. However, for AQA paper 1 covers Shakespeare and modern texts and paper 2 covers poetry and the 19th-century novel.
When using your past papers, you should time test yourself and time your own mock exam. This way you’ll get timing practice and learn which areas you’re struggling with so you can ask your tutor to help prior to your final.
Book your exam
Even though you can study the full GCSE English course online, you’ll still need to sit the exam in person regardless of which course provider you choose – granted the restrictions from coronavirus have lifted by then.
Six months before the exam you should book a place to sit as a private candidate at an exam centre. Exam centres are usually schools or colleges that also have their own students sitting exams.
If you're studying a Pearson Edexcel course, you can find exam centres near you using this search tool; however, this won’t cover every centre, so we recommend getting in touch with local schools and colleges to check if they accept private candidates. AQA has a similar tool if you’re sitting their exam.
Please also note that there will be an admin fee to sit the exam. You’ll pay this directly to the exam centre and the cost will vary depending on your local centre’s charges.
Once you’ve retaken your GCSE English exam, you can begin (impatiently) awaiting your results! Good luck!
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