GCSE French

From 2018, the new GCSE French exam has two tiers, three themes and four different papers which students sit at the end of the course. There is no coursework.

The two tiers

The Foundation Tier is for grades 1 to 5.

The Higher Tier is for grades 4 to 9.

The three themes

The three themes comprise:

  • Identity and culture.
  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest.
  • Current and future study, and employment.

The four papers

The four equally weighted papers, each worth 25% of the total mark are designed to test the four main skills:  

  • Speaking.
  • Listening.
  • Reading.
  • Writing.

Preparing for the French GCSE exam

The GCSE French exam is designed to be taken at the end of a two year course of study, although some schools do begin to prepare students over a three year period.

Over the two or three year course, your specialist French teacher will cover all the skills, vocabulary, grammar and communication strategies you need for your exam.

One of the welcome improvements introduced by the new exam means that there is now more potential than ever to shine and demonstrate all the skills you’ve acquired during the course of your studies. This is because the new GCSE has been reformed to better differentiate between students of different abilities.

Improving your grades

What can you do to make sure you take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the new GCSE exam? Your specialist French teacher will have skillfully planned a scheme of work to maximise your chances of success in the exam, so make sure you:

  • Attend all your lessons, including any extra conversation or revision classes provided by your school.
  • Set aside enough time to complete all your French homework tasks thoroughly without rushing.
  • Concentrate and pay full attention in all your lessons. We really can’t stress enough how important it is to work hard in class and save your distractions for break time.
  • Always ask for further explanation if there is something you haven’t understood properly during the lesson.
  • Go the extra mile and keep a vocabulary list with you at all times. If you’re waiting for a bus, queuing for lunch or just find you have a few minutes to spare, take out the list and see how many words you can commit to memory whilst you’re waiting. When it comes to learning a new language, little and often leads to success.
  • Read a little French every day. Try an online newspaper, magazine or blog that interests you.
  • Listen to French every day. Try finding internet radio stations, podcasts, films, YouTube content etc. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything, just soak up the sounds and experience the language.
  • Find extra opportunities to write in French, for example, if you like to write lists, do them in French.
  • Speak French every day, even if you only talk to yourself. Try describing what you’re thinking or doing in French.

Private tuition

If you’ve attended the full GCSE course with a specialist teacher, hopefully you’ll be suitably prepared to achieve your full potential in the exam. However, there are some circumstances in which you may be advised to consider a private tutor, for example:

  • You’ve had long or frequent periods of absence from school.
  • Your specialist teacher of French has been absent and a large proportion of your lessons have been covered by a non-specialist teacher.
  • You’ve fallen behind in your studies for some reason and need to catch up.
  • You’ve recently changed schools and your new school is following a different syllabus, for example from a different examination board.
  • You’re borderline between two grades and you want to make that extra push to achieve the higher grade.
  • You’re feeling overwhelmed and need some encouragement and reassurance to boost your confidence.
  • Despite asking for extra help at school, you’re still struggling to understand certain aspects of the course.

Fleur de Liz is here to help with any of the above. For further advice or support, just ring 0113 217 9687 or email info@fleurdeliz.co.uk.