AQA English Literature Paper 1 – Macbeth/Christmas Carol walkthrough

What's included?

PDF and editable PowerPoint

Key Stage



Years 10-11


If you’re preparing students to sit AQA GCSE English Literature Paper 1, use this PowerPoint/PDF to walk through a past paper with them.

This walkthrough focuses on:

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

What is in AQA English Literature Paper 1?

AQA English Literature Paper 1 is a 1 hour 45 minute exam. In Section A, students answer one question on the Shakespeare play of their choice.

In section B, students answer one question about the 19th-century novel of their choice.

On both occasions, pupils need to write about the extract and the play/novel as a whole.

AQA English Literature Paper 1 introduction

Use the example of an excellent essay introduction on this AQA English Literature Paper 1 PowerPoint to remind students what they should include:

  • Writer’s name
  • Their POV
  • A brief overview of the scene
  • Terminology
  • Explanation of what the essay will cover

What, how and why

One slide sets out how to cover ‘what?’, ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ when answering the main question. Pupils need to remember the following points:

  • What is your point in relation to the question?
  • Which quote shows this? What language technique is used?
  • How does the language technique contribute to your point?
  • Which word can you zoom into? Why this particular word?
  • How does your analysis make the reader feel?

Example answers

The PowerPoint contains an example answer to the question: how does Dickens present the theme of poverty?


The PowerPoint sets out the wider historical context of both Macbeth (James I, the supernatural, witchcraft, divine right of kings) and A Christmas Carol (Victorian era, Poor Law, religion).

It provides lots of example sentences that satisfy AO3, for both Shakespeare and Dickens. These prove that the writer understands the relationship between the text and the context it was written in.

Remind pupils that they need to link the context to their analysis of the text, rather than giving the examiner some historical facts.

Outline of key events

The key events of both Macbeth and A Christmas Carol are laid out in easy-to-digest bullet points. The changes key characters go through are also mapped out.

Manal Zahid is an English teacher, WSR co-ordinator and AR lead. Check out our Macbeth essay two-lesson resource pack and AQA English Language Paper 1 revision booklet.

AQA English Literature Paper 1 PowerPoint
AQA English Literature Paper 1 – Macbeth/Christmas Carol walkthrough

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