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What Happens If You Fail Your English Literature GCSE But Pass Language?

What Happens If You Fail Your English Literature GCSE But Pass Language?

When it comes to your GCSEs, you’ll need to get at least a grade 4 in English. Otherwise, the government will make you retake the subject (or get an equivalent qualification).

But we know what you’re thinking. What happens if you fail your English Literature GCSE, but pass Language? 

Here’s the lowdown.

Does English Literature and Language count as one GCSE?

First things first, you might be wondering whether English Literature and Language count as one GCSE.

The answer is no.

Once upon a time, students were able to take one English GCSE that included aspects of both English Literature and Language.

But for a while now, these have been split into two distinct GCSEs.

In other words, you’ll sit one GCSE in English Literature, and another separate GCSE in English Language.

This means you might do really well in one and not so well in the other. Which brings us onto…

What happens if you fail your English Literature GCSE, but pass Language?

If you fail your English Literature GCSE but pass Language, you won’t have to do anything at all.

Why?

Well, you don’t actually have to pass both English GCSEs. Rather, you just have to get at least a grade 4 in one of them.

That said, even though you don’t have to retake your English Literature GCSE, you might still want a better grade.

Lots of schools and colleges have entry requirements for sixth form. Plus, getting good grades in your GCSEs can open up doors later down the line in your studies and career.

Here are your options if you fail your GCSE in English Literature but pass Language.

Let it slide

Your first option is to do nothing at all.

After all, if you’ve passed your English Language GCSE, the government doesn’t require you to pass English Literature.

As long as you’ve got the grades you need to take the next step in your studies or career, you might decide it’s simply not worth retaking your English Literature GCSE – especially if you don’t enjoy it as a subject and you’re not planning on doing anything English-related in the future.

Appeal your result

If you were close to getting a grade 4, it might be worth checking if you can appeal your result. This is where you ask the exam board to check for any marking mistakes. 

Getting your paper remarked could make all the difference, especially if you were only a couple of marks off a grade 4.

Just bear in mind that your mark could go down as well as up. Plus, remarks cost money – although your school may be happy to fork out the cost for you if they agree with your decision to appeal your result.

If you want to go down this route, it’s best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, as every exam board has a time limit for appeals.

Remarking English exam paper

Retake your English Literature GCSE

Finally, you could choose to retake your English Literature GCSE.

Even though you don’t have to retake it, doing so could help you to go up a grade or two – which could open up doors for you in your future studies and career.

If you choose to go down this route, it’s important to prepare thoroughly to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the grade you’re after this time around.

That’s why it’s often worth getting the help of a tutor.

They’ll be able to help you reach your potential with one-to-one attention and tailored lesson plans that take into account your strengths, weaknesses and learning style. Plus, they’ll help you study for your resit alongside your other plans – whether that’s working towards your A levels or a full-time job.

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What happens if you fail your English Language GCSE but pass Literature?

If you fail your English Language GCSE but pass Literature, you won’t have to retake your English Language GCSE (unless you want to, of course!).

Remember, you only have to get a grade 4 or above in at least one of your English GCSEs.

So, as long as you’ve passed one, you don’t have to pass the other.

That said, English Language is a valuable GCSE to have.

Many colleges, sixth forms, universities and even employers will expect you to have passed it. So, failing could close quite a few doors for you in the future – even if you’ve passed English Literature.

With that in mind, it might be worth retaking your English Language GCSE even though you don’t have to.

A GCSE English tutor can help you to prepare and ensure you have the skills needed to resit the exam with a better outcome next time.

In fact, 90% of Tutorful students improve by at least 1 grade.

"My advice regarding English resits is to book them as soon as possible and seek appropriate tutor support to fill the gaps where necessary.

"A lot of the English or maths you have learned will still be fresh in your mind so the sooner they are resat - the better!”

- Matthew B, GCSE English tutor

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What if you fail both English Literature and Language?

The government requires you to get at least a grade 4 in an English GCSE.

So, if you fail both your English Literature and Language, you’ll have to retake (or appeal your result to see if you can go up a grade that way).

But here’s the thing. You don’t get to choose which you retake – even though you technically only have to pass one of them.

Rather, you’ll have to retake your English Language GCSE (although if you want to retake both, that’s fine too of course!). 

English Language retakes take place twice a year – once in the autumn time (usually November) and once during the normal exam time in summer.

Hopefully, your first retake goes swimmingly and you pass your English Language.GCSE. But if not, you’ll need to carry on studying and retaking English Language until you get at least a grade 4 – or until you’re 18.

We know what you’re thinking: is there any other way out?

Well, some students may be eligible to take a functional skills qualification in English instead – for instance, if you’re not studying full-time next year or you got a grade 2 or below. This is an  online qualification that exam boards can offer on demand.

Either way, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared, so that you don’t get stuck in an endless cycle of retakes.

Luckily, a GCSE English tutor can help.

They’ll give you the one-on-one attention and tailored lesson plans you need to help you reach your full potential and get the grades you deserve. Which brings us onto…

Find a GCSE English tutor to help you prepare

Whether you’re preparing for your GCSEs or hoping to resit one of your English exams, one thing’s sure.

An experienced GCSE English tutor will have the skills, knowledge and tools needed to help you succeed.

From week-by-week plans to practice exams, you’ll finally get the one-on-one attention you deserve to thrive – and pass your English exams with the grades you hope for (or better!).

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FAQs

Do you need to pass GCSE English Literature?

No, the government doesn’t require you to pass GCSE English Literature. Instead, you’ll just need a grade 4 or above in at least one of your English GCSEs – English Literature or English Language.

Is English Language GCSE more important than Literature?

Not necessarily, as it all depends on what you’re hoping to study.

That said, more colleges, universities and employers will typically want to see a GCSE in English Language, so you could see it as more valuable.

Can you resit English Literature in GCSE?

Yes, you can resit your English Literature GCSE. In fact, you can typically resit any GCSE you want to!

Read our dedicated guide to GCSE resits to learn more.

Do you have to retake English Language if you fail?

That depends. If you fail your English Language GCSE but pass English Literature, you won’t need to retake. 

This is because you only need to pass one of the two.

On the other hand, if you fail both, you won’t get a choice of which to retake – instead, you’ll have to retake English Language.

Is English Literature hard to pass?

English Literature can be challenging, but the GCSE is designed so that pupils with the right knowledge and skills can pass it.

A GCSE English tutor will be able to assess your skills to see how close you are to being able to pass. They’ll also help you to identify your weaker areas and tailor lesson plans to guide you to better grades.

Head over to our blog on how to pass your English Literature GCSE for more tips and guidance.

Can you go to uni if you fail English GCSE?

Most universities will specify the minimum grades they expect in GCSE maths and English. So, failing English GCSE can certainly make it challenging to get into uni.

That said, it is still possible to get into university without the required GCSEs. As an example, the Open University doesn’t expect any specific qualifications for admission.

Likewise, some universities offer alternative entry routes, such as foundation courses. These provide an opportunity for students to gain the qualifications they need.

Read about the GCSE requirements for getting into university to learn more.

Is English Literature the hardest GCSE?

That depends on your strengths and skill set. What’s easy for one student won’t be easy for another, and vice versa.

That said, for students who find reading and critical analysis challenging, English Literature is likely to be one of the hardest GCSEs.

If that sounds familiar, getting an English GCSE tutor could be extremely worthwhile. A tutor will give you the one-on-one attention you won’t get at school, to help you wrap your head around difficult concepts and give you the support you need to reach your potential.

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Imogen Beech

Imogen Beech

4th Jul 2024