English Literature

Overview of the English Literature A Level

Exam board: AQA.

Qualification: English Literature A (7712).

Course length: 2 year course (no AS).

See the AQA website for further information beyond what is outlined below.

The Course Content

Paper 1: Love through the ages

3 hour exam; 40% of A Level.

Section A: William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ (25 marks) – closed book, extract-based essay.

Section B: Unseen Poetry (25 marks) – essay on two unseen poems.

Section C: Comparing texts: Pre-1900 Poetry Anthology and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ (25 marks) – open book.


Paper 2: Texts in shared contexts

2 hours 30 mins exam; 40% of A Level.

We sit Paper 2B and select ‘Option 2’ within this paper.

Section A: Drama set text – essay on Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar    Named Desire’ (25 marks) – open book.

Section B: One unseen prose essay (25 marks). One essay on ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Feminine Gospels’ (25 marks) – open book.



Independent Critical Study: texts across time (one pre-1900 text)

Coursework – 2500 word essay and bibliography; 20% of A level; assessed by teachers and moderated by AQA.

Pre 1900 text: William Wycherley’s ‘The Country Wife’ (choice of comparison texts to be shared later.)




Key Information from the Mark Schemes


All questions are framed to test Assessment Objectives 2, 3, 4 and 5, so if candidates answer the question, then they will be addressing the AOs. In marking questions, however, examiners must also take account of AO1, which tests more than technical accuracy.


The AOs are as follows:

AO5:  Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations. (12%)

AO4 Explore connections across literary texts. (12%)

AO3 Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received. (24%)

AO2 Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts. (24%)

AO1 Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression. (28%)


Weightings for each question are as follows:

AO5: 3 marks AO4: 3 marks AO3: 6 marks AO2: 6 marks AO1: 7 marks


Key words given to examiners/teachers to help band responses:


Band 5: perceptive/assured.

Band 4: coherent/thorough.

Band 3: straightforward/relevant.

Band 2: simple/generalised.

Band 1: largely irrelevant, largely misunderstood, largely inaccurate.