A Level English - Preparation for Year 11

The following resources are designed to help Year 11 pupils prepare for the transition from GCSE to A Level English:

An Introduction to Critical Theory - A Level English

Making the Leap - Moving from GCSE to A Level Study - Resource - Pupils are recommended to read Chapter 14  - Dive into the World of Short Stories

National Portrait Gallery Creative Writing Challenge

A Level English Reading List

We currently follow the OCR English Literature A level specification. 

The course has three assessed elements: a coursework portfolio worth 20%; an examination paper on Shakespeare and pre-1900 poetry and drama worth 40%; and a synoptic examination, focused on a particular theme, genre or time period (for example, Gothic Literature or Women in Literature) worth 40%. Both exams are taken at the end of U6. 


The coursework portfolio involves three texts chosen by the teacher and linked thematically. In Task 1 of the coursework, the pupil will write about 1000 words on a close reading of an extract or poem, while Task 2 consists of a comparative study of the other two texts. 

Exam One – ‘Drama and Poetry pre-1900’  
The texts currently available for study for the ‘Drama and Poetry pre- 1900’exam are as follows: 

  • One Shakespeare play: Coriolanus, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Richard III, The Tempest or Twelfth Night 

  • One pre-1900 drama text: Christopher Marlowe: Edward II; John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi; Oliver Goldsmith: She Stoops to Conquer; Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House; or Oscar Wilde: An Ideal Husband 

  • One pre-1900 poetry text: Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale; John Milton: Paradise Lost Books, 9 & 10; Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Poems; Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Maud; or Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems. 

Exam Two – ‘Comparative and Contextual study’  
The topics for the ‘Comparative and Contextual study’ exam are currently as follows: 

  • American Literature 1880–1940; The Gothic; Dystopia; Women in Literature; The Immigrant Experience