The Higher English course builds on the skills pupils have developed sitting National 5. As in National 5, Higher candidates are assessed through an exam and an externally marked writing portfolio. In order to sit the final exam, Higher candidates must also complete four internal assessments in writing, reading, listening, and speaking.
I. Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation
A large part of Higher English focuses on close reading skills. Pupils develop their abilities to understand, compare, and evaluate increasingly advanced texts and linguistic techniques.
Candidates must complete an internally assessed reading assessment in order to complete the Higher course.
II. Scottish Text Study
Higher candidates study the work of one Scottish writer in depth – this may be a novel, a play, or a set of six poems. They examine the writer’s themes, characters, techniques, and other aspects of his or her craft.
III. Literature Study
Over the year, Higher candidates study a literary text in depth – this may be a novel, a poem, a play, or a film. They examine its themes, its characters, its techniques, and other aspects of its craft.
Higher candidates will develop their writing skills by working on two extended pieces.
Candidates must complete an internally assessed writing assessment in order to finish the Higher course.
V. Speaking and Listening
Higher candidates will develop their speaking skills by participating in a formal group discussion or by delivering a prepared solo talk. Candidates must complete this internal speaking assessment in order to finish the Higher course.
Higher candidates will develop their listening skills by listening to a recorded text and answering questions on its meaning and language. Candidates must complete this internal listening assessment in order to finish the Higher course.
How is Higher English assessed? (Much the same way National 5 English is)
ELEMENT SECTION MARKS Writing Folio (sent in March) Broadly discursive piece (1000-1300 words) 15 Broadly creative piece (1000-1300 words) 15
Exam - Paper 1 (90 minutes) Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation 30
Exam - Paper 2 (90 minutes) Scottish Text 20 Critical Essay 20
30% of a pupil’s Higher result derives from a written portfolio. The portfolio is sent away in March and comprises two pieces, each worth 15 marks. If a candidate fails to submit a folio, they are unable to sit the Higher exam.
One of these pieces must be broadly creative: pupils will write a personal piece or an imaginative piece.
The other must be broadly discursive: pupils will write a persuasive piece, an argumentative piece, or a report.
Pupils will receive thorough guidance as they plan and write their folio pieces; however, it will be candidates’ responsibility to make the most of the support offered, and to keep on top of deadlines.
70% of a pupil’s Higher result derives from an exam sat in May. Pupils sit two papers: Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation (lasting 90 minutes, this is worth 30 marks) and Critical Reading (lasting 90 minutes, this is worth 40 marks).
The RUAE paper requires pupils to read an article and then answer questions on its meaning, its language, and its effectiveness. They then read a second article on the same topic, and answer a final question by comparing the two articles.
The Critical Reading paper comprises two parts, each accounting for 20 marks. The Scottish Text section requires pupils to answer questions on the Scottish text they have studied in class. The Critical Essay section requires pupils to write an essay on a text they have studied in class.
What homework is issued for Higher English?
Throughout the year, Higher candidates will be issued with homework intended to practise and revise skills and concepts previously covered in class. The certified English courses place great emphasis on pupils’ skills, their knowledge of the texts, and their ability to identify and analyse language features: the more practice Higher candidates go through, the better cemented these skills and ideas will be.
Higher candidates are expected to complete much of their folio work at home. Class teachers will offer thorough guidance and feedback, but at the senior stage pupils are expected to take the lead in their own learning and manage deadlines without falling behind.
What can I do to reach my full potential in Higher English?
Read widely and routinely – particularly novels and newspapers. Challenge yourself with topics and genres you are unfamiliar with.
Reading novels will help you increase your vocabulary, tighten up your grammar, and secure your grasp of punctuation; it will also show you first hand how language can be used creatively.
The Higher RUAE paper will use two articles adapted from a broadsheet newspaper: the more familiar you are with this kind of text, the better you will do. Aim to read articles from publications like The Herald, The Guardian,The Times, and BBC News regularly, particularly extended reports and opinion pieces.
Meet your deadlines! While managing deadlines can be stressful, it is far more stressful to have missed deadlines pile up. Meeting deadlines when they are due means avoiding rushing later on, and rushed work is never as good as it might have been.
Ensure your folio pieces are as strong as possible. Your folio accounts for 30% of your grade, and you have months to fine tune and perfect it. Take advantage of this.
Demonstrate your skill with language by using plenty of creative and persuasive literary techniques in your folio pieces.
Revise your notes as you progress through the year. If you get into the habit of reviewing your classwork as a matter of course, you’ll avoid having to cram a load of material about themes, characterisation, and quotations into your head when your prelims approach.