A lot of my students in the past year or so have been freaked out or confused by the spoken component of the AQA GCSE English Language course.

Sometimes, they think teachers are spending too much time on it; other times they’re worried that they’ve not had enough time or guidance to properly prepare. So, I thought I’d make a useful little help sheet to calm all your worries, and hopefully answer all your questions.

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Check what else I have written on English Language and Literature by clicking here.

In a nutshell, the spoken component is a non-exam assessment where you have to research, write, and deliver a presentation to your class on a topic of your choice (guided by your teacher).

It’s a great way for students to practice speaking and presentation skills, which are useful in later academic life and also in professional situations.

Here are the essential points you need to know about the spoken component:

  1. It’s NOT PART OF YOUR GCSE GRADE — so don’t worry! If you do well in it, that’s great. Equally though, don’t get stressed out by it because you get a separate Pass, Merit, Distinction grade (or, if it doesn’t fit the criteria, it’s called ‘Non-Classified’).
  2. It’s connected to the English Language, not English Literature.
  3. It is also called a ‘Non-Exam Assessment’, or NEA.
  4. It’s marked by your teacher, so try to choose something that would likely impress them! Don’t choose the same topic as everyone else, and try to create a sense of the debate. It could be moderated by AQA, but generally, your teacher’s mark is final.
  5. The best way to do well is to research speeches and talks in your topic area and copy the style and techniques used while applying the knowledge of your own chosen subject. For example, if your presentation is on capital punishment, you could watch Ted Talks by speakers on the topic of prisons or law. Then research and develop your own ideas on capital punishment, and finally, merge those ideas with the style and techniques you found in the talks.
  6. You are graded using Assessment Objectives (AOs), just like the regular exams — the presentation tests you on the following skills:
  • AO7 (formal presentations)
  • AO8 (listening and responding to spoken language)
  • AO9 (using Standard English informal presentations)

Sometimes colleges and/or universities might consider it as evidence of good speaking / presentational abilities so it is still worth trying to get a decent mark on it. As mentioned above — don’t prioritise working hard on the speaking component over your actual exam papers; those count as 50% each towards your total English Language GCSE grade.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully, that’s cleared up a few things and helped you feel calmer about it all!

For more detailed help on the spoken component, you can take the Scrbbly course.