A study by the English Association found that the current system, in which pupils can opt for either separately or combined language and literature, was overly complex.
The rules that govern the A-level imposed a straitjacket on students and teachers, it said.
English should be treated as an integrated subject based on creative and critical engagement with language and literature.
The study, "Second Reading", said that while A2 English was more demanding than the pre-Curriculum 2000 syllabuses, students could gain inflated results by being able to re-sit AS units that count for the same marks.
The association argues that university admissions tutors are not always aware of this.
The report comes as the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is holding a widespread review of English teaching.
Lord Quirk of Bloomsbury, patron of the English Association, said lessons learned from the past five years needed to inform the debate about the direction English should take.