Pupils sitting National 5 English continue to develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening which they have acquired previously in their academic career. The National 5 course is assessed by an exam and an externally marked portfolio.
I. Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation
A large section of the National 5 course focuses on close reading. Pupils develop their abilities in understanding complex texts and analysing how writers use language.
In order for pupils to achieve as highly as they can in this element of the course, we strongly recommend that they read widely and routinely outside of school – in particular, extended broadsheet newspaper reports and opinion pieces. This will help familiarise pupils with the kind of texts and language with which the National 5 course deals.
II. Scottish Text Study
National 5 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, National 5 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.
How is National 5 English assessed?
Element SectionMarks (100) Writing Folio (sent in March) Broadly discursive piece (800-1000 words) 15 Broadly creative piece (800-1000 words) 15
Exam - Paper 1 (60 minutes) Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation 30
Exam - Paper 2 (90 minutes) Scottish Text 20 Critical Essay 20
I. The Folio 30% of a pupil’s National 5 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 National 5 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 National 5 result derives from an exam sat in May. Pupils sit two papers: Reading for Understanding, Analysis, and Evaluation (lasting 60 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.
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 National 5 English?
Throughout the year, National 5 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 National 5 candidates go through, the better cemented these skills and ideas will be.
National 5 candidates are expected to complete much of their folio work at home. Class teachers will offer thorough guidance and feedback, but at this 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 potential in National 5 English?
Read widely and routinely – particularly novels and newspapers.
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 National 5 RUAE paper will be on an article 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.