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The Official Higher English Thread: Help and Discussion :: Pre-Exam Discussion watch


    (Original post by JoshCurran)
    Lol, after that exercise I have came to the conclusion that I am a lenient marker
    I'm too harsh: I gave the Streetcar essay 8.

    I know it is quality not quantity, but there must be a minimum length/number of words to be achieved an A mark for your essay as the markers require sufficient analysis and evidence of understanding, etc.

    So, how long does the essay have to be to achieve an A?

    Also, how does the SQA overcome the non-consistnency of marking Higher English Essays as there will be many 'easy' and 'harsh' markers out there.

    I would appreciate it if MYSQA could also attempt to answer these points I have highlighted.

    Firstly, essays are put into catergories and then given a mark, then the same with your other essay's mark, and then those are added together with your close reading mark, THEN you're given a overall grade.

    Length: Write enough to support your argument. You're obviously not going to convince anyone with two points, but I'd say 10 is waaaay overkill. It really depends on what you feel is right.

    The exams are marked like this: marker 1, then marker 2, then markers meeting to decide grade boundry. The marking style outlined in the link above.

    MySQA is here to promote the email/text service, but I'm sure she'd help with anything related to arrangments.

    (Original post by Nonie No)
    Am I right? Lol

    Hi in general is the grade boundaries in Critical Essays;
    C 13 or 15
    B 17 or 19
    A 21 or 23
    A band 1 25
    I just have this sheet and I want to write in what the grades where but because it has 4 mark boundaries, I was wondering if that meant D,C,B,A.

    No, they're catergories.

    Your essay is read, and if it meets the basic requirements it goes into the thirs/fourth catergory. Then, it is read over again and given it's final catergory.

    In general, catergory =/= A,B,C or D :awesome:

    Hi, I've wrote 2 essays on The Crucible and are both marked at 19 from my teacher and I was just wondering if anyone could take a look and try to point out to me what needs improving? please pm me


    Does anyone know what a B is in English usually, I know an A is mostly 65% as it has been for the past few years and was even 63% one year.

    Also, does this seem enough to go in with:

    1 drama
    1 prose (novel)
    1 or 2 poems


    HIGHER ENGLISH. I have literally been dreading this day since I started high school.

    last year to get a B you needed 56%


    same here, it's the exam that most can go wrong in :/

    Who here is re-reading their long texts?

    Here's a few exercises that might make your english revision less laborious (I have too much time on my hands):

    1. Using the 2009 'Close Reading' paper, construct your own marking scheme for the paper and compare it with the official marking scheme on the SQA website.

    2. Go through every critical essay paper you have and total up how many questions you can currently do. Do you think this is too low? Why?

    3. Write out an essay - it doesn't have to be timed - and mark it yourself, harshly. What's bringing your grade down?

    4. Identify what aspect of language that you cannot recognise in Close Reading, and write a paragraph using this aspect of language. This includes anything from tone to sentence structure.

    5. Write a character profile for the characters in your texts, without help. Using your notes, see how accurate your profile was.

    6. Read over your texts again. Then, write out what type of critical essay questions that can be applied to your texts. E.g. "Streetcar - Relationships, old vs new, appearances vs reality, key scene, conflict, society, human condition..."

    7. Do you really know your quotations? Quickly jot down the quotations and follow-up analysis. Repeat this until the exam.

    8. Get a copy of the 2008 paper and a notepad and imagine releasing that you have 30 minutes left to complete the final eight questions. Then, try to complete these questions in 30 minutes. Once you are finished, recognise what type of questions stumped you and try to solve this by using your notes or online resources.

    9. Imagine the same scenario in question 8, but this time it's the critical essay! Attempt to write an essay in 30 minutes and see how far your get along.

    10. If your texts have been adapted to film, and try and get a copy of this film and watch it. It might deep your understanding of the text! (Don't rely on the film for your analysis, however )

    11. Identify the Broadsheet companies that normally publish close reading articles, pick out an article from the website(s) and either rip it to bits and analyse it, or form your own Close Reading questions on it.

    12. Make up spider diagrams, power-points and/or pictures on features of your text, e.g. setting, structure, symbolism, theme etc. Then, make up or find a mini-quiz and answer it. (This is best done beforehand! :p:)

    13. How many essays can you write in an hour? Get a past paper and see how many you can write, then hand these into your teacher. Or, if you can't be bothered, make up lots of essay plans for each question in the papers.

    14. Mark critical essays and Close Reading answers here.

    15. Get any critical essays that you have done throughout the year, and identify the feedback that your teacher/lecturer has given to you. Then, write this out. Is it recurring, or have you improved?

    16. Write loads of essays and hand them in to your teacher, or post them here for feedback! (Remember, we do not replace your teacher's comments though!!)


    I'm trying to do an essay (Choose a poem in which there is a sinister atmosphere or person or place. Show how the poet evokes this sinister quality and discuss how it adds to your appreciation of the poem.) I'm doing it on Ambulances by Philip Larkin - I have to do a paragraph on tone using the quotes "Brings closer what is left to come / And dulls to distance all we are" and "And sense the solving emptiness / That lies just under all we do". I have no idea where to start with this...

    Can anyone help me?

    If I was to type up one of my essays would any of you lovely people be willing to read them over for me and possibly grade/critique them. Just my teacher's not terribly helpful and just says what's good.

    (Original post by Lulope)
    If I was to type up one of my essays would any of you lovely people be willing to read them over for me and possibly grade/critique them. Just my teacher's not terribly helpful and just says what's good.
    I'm in the same boat, I have done 2 essays on The Crucible and if someone would be generous enough please message me.


    Do you think this is safe to go in with to have a good chance of an A


    Characterisation of main character
    Relationship between two main characters
    Key scene

    Prose (Novel):

    Characterisation of 2 main characters
    symbolism (as the book is full of symbolism)

    And 1-2 poems

    How does this look. I don't know if it is worth doing theme for drama

    (Original post by SQA Website)
    The exam paper will have two passages on a related theme. The passages will be selected from works of non-fiction, from essays, or from quality journalism. The ideas will be complex and expressed in sophisticated English. The total length will be in the region of 1,500 words. The length of each of the two passages may vary from year to year: the first passage may be longer than the second, or the first passage may be shorter than the second, or both passages may be of similar length. In 2010 the passages will be printed in a single column. (If you are looking at past papers, you will see that up to 2006 they were printed in two columns.
    What is so significant about the part in bold, I don't even fully understand it. In the 2006 paper, they started a new page for the second passage, but in recent years they just missed a few lines and then started the second passge. :confused:

    Some specific advice
    Questions on understanding

    Answer these 'in your own words'. This means that you have to demonstrate that you understand the more complex words and phrases used in the passage. If you simply quote or use the words already in the passage, the marker won't know whether you understand what they mean – and will assume that you don't.

    The number of marks allocated to an Understanding question will clearly indicate the number of points you are expected to make.

    Try to make your answers to these questions fairly brief; using bullet points is perfectly acceptable here.

    For examples of this type of question, look at questions 1, 3(a) and 3(b) in the 2008 paper, questions 5(a) and 10(b) in the 2007 paper, or questions 5 and 9 in the 2006 paper.
    The link question

    This is a common question, although it's not asked every year.

    Note that this is an 'Understanding' question. You must demonstrate an understanding of each of the two paragraphs (or sections) being linked. In addition you must identify the word or words in the link sentence which connect with the preceding paragraph and the word or words in the link sentence which connect with what follows.

    So there are four elements in a successful answer:

    * a quotation (from the link sentence) which refers to the idea(s) of the preceding paragraph;
    * an understanding of the idea(s) of the preceding paragraph;
    * a quotation (from the link sentence) which refers to the idea(s) of the coming paragraph;
    * an understanding of the idea(s) of the coming paragraph.

    For examples of this type of question, look at question 3(a) in the 2008 paper or question 5(a) in the 2003 paper.
    'Summary' questions

    If you are asked to 'summarise' or to 'identify the main points' or to give the 'key reasons', your answer should be fairly brief. You should focus on each main idea the writer is putting across. Don’t include any of the supporting evidence or examples the writer uses – these will weaken a 'summary' (and waste valuable time).

    Examples of this type of question can be found in question 11(a) in the 2001 paper, question 5 in the 2002 paper and question 6(b) in the 2006 paper. In the 2006 question, examiners found many candidates writing extremely long-winded answers which repeated everything the writer said. Not only is that very time-consuming, it is the opposite of what a summary should be doing. The question (which was worth 6 marks) could have been answered in three fairly concise sentences.
    Analysis questions

    There is specific advice below about answering on imagery, sentence structure, etc, but there is an important point to be remembered about all Analysis questions.

    You must pay attention to why you are analysing: the question nearly always gives a clear focus for you about what the writer's use of a feature is trying to achieve, and you should concentrate on this - don't analyse 'in a vacuum'. For example, question 3 in the 2007 paper is not an open invitation to analyse word choice and imagery for their own sake, but to show how they convey 'the wonder of the library as a physical space'. Similarly, question 4(c) in the 2008 paper asks you to show how the writer's use of language "reinforces his criticism of the conservationists' ideas", not just to write general comments about the language. For other examples, see question 4 in the 2006 paper, question 9(b) in the 2005 paper, or question 9 in the 2004 paper.
    Questions on imagery and on word choice

    These are questions most Higher English candidates find especially difficult. It's not easy to 'learn' how to do them, since your ability here depends on your sensitivity to language, and this is something that has been growing gradually since you started learning to read. The following bits of advice, however, might help:

    * You never get any marks simply for quoting a word or identifying an image – the marks are always for the 'quality of comment'.
    * The comment must be specific to the word or image being asked about – vague remarks which could apply to any word or image will get no marks, and you get no marks for repeating the question.
    * When answering on word choice, try to go beyond what a word means, and explore what it suggests (in technical terms: connotation rather than denotation).
    * When answering on imagery, try to show how the literal root or origin of the image is being used by the writer to express an idea in a metaphorical way.

    For examples of this type of question, look at questions 2(a) and 9 in the 2008 paper, questions 3, 5(b) and 9 in the 2007 paper, or questions 3(c) and 8(b) in the 2006 paper.
    Questions on sentence structure

    Candidates find these questions difficult too. As with questions on imagery and word choice, it's not easy to 'learn' how to answer them. You have to be able to recognise relevant features of sentence structure (eg brevity, length, use of listing, climax, anti-climax, repetition, use of questions, balance, period), but the marks are given for the quality of your comments on their effect in context.

    For examples of this type of question, look at question 9 in the 2008 paper, questions 1(b) and 10 in the 2006 paper, or question 6(b) in the 2004 paper.
    Questions on tone

    'Tone' is possibly the most difficult area of all. Not only will you have to identify the writer's tone at a particular point in the passage (eg anger, contempt, regret, nostalgia, irony, humour), you'll also have to explain how the writer establishes the tone. The 'how' part is often done best by exploring other aspects of language such as sentence structure, imagery, and word choice (see the sections above) since these are often used to convey tone. Also, features such as sound, exaggeration and anti-climax are often used to establish tone.

    For examples of this type of question, look at question 7(b) in the 2008 paper, question 3(b) in the 2005 paper or questions 6(b) and 10(c)(ii) in the 2004 paper.
    Questions on 'the writer's use of language'

    Sometimes a question simply asks you to show how 'the writer's use of language' does something or other. This means you're not being guided towards a specific technique such as sentence structure or tone. For these questions you must find the most appropriate technique(s) and then deal with it/them in the way suggested above. Remember, however, there will still be no marks for simply identifying a feature or quoting a word or image.

    For examples of this type of question, look at questions 2(b), 8 and 10(b) in the 2008 paper, questions 4(a) and 8(b) in the 2007 paper, or questions 4 and 7 in the 2006 paper.
    Comparison questions

    There will always be at least one question at the end of the paper requiring comparison of the passages. You will have to compare and evaluate the ideas in the passages, or the styles in which they are written, or both of these.

    Be very careful to establish whether you are to answer on style or on ideas, and stick to the task.

    You will always have to make reference to both passages, although you don’t have to give each of them the same amount of attention. Note that in 2006 the question referred to specific sections of each passage, not the whole passage.

    The best answers to these questions are often like little essays in which you develop a clear point of view about the passages, supporting each statement with specific reference to the passages. Poor answers are usually a list of random thoughts with no clear line of thought.

    When answering on style, it's acceptable to make some use of material from previous answers, but it's a good idea to introduce a few 'new' points.

    When answering on ideas, try to go beyond simply summarising what the writers have said; it is likely that your opinion is being asked for – so it is quite acceptable for you to give this, provided it is linked appropriately to ideas in the passages.

    Hint: have a brief look at the comparison question(s) before you start, so that while you are working your way through the other questions and becoming more familiar with the ideas and styles of the passages, you will be able to give some thought to what you might say in the comparison question(s).

    For examples of this type of question, look at question 13 in the 2008 paper, question 13 in the 2007 paper, question 13 in the 2006 paper, or question 16 in the 2005 paper.

    Also, see the 2009 CR guide that the OP has posted, is that from the SQA or from herself?

    28 days, 19 hours and 21 minutes until Higher English 2010

    SQA External Assessment Report 2009

    Critical Essay
    • Most candidates were able to write two substantial essays in the time available. It was noted again this
    year, however, that some candidates’ essays were unnecessarily long and that this often weakened the
    overall impact of their work.
    • Almost all candidates chose questions from Sections A – C. There was a slight improvement (in
    quantity and in quality) in responses to questions from Section D.
    • Candidates who were well prepared knew their texts in some depth, could select appropriate
    details/incidents from them and could quote accurately.
    • Most candidates seem fully aware of the need for relevance to the chosen question, and that mere
    narration of events or unfocused, line-by-line analyses of a poem are not acceptable approaches.
    • Successful candidates continue to pay attention to the structure of their essays, striving to shape them
    relevantly to the key part(s) of the question.
    • Candidates who took a broad view of a text as a whole, and did not get bogged down in constant
    “analysis”, performed well; such candidates were often able to contextualise their comments by
    effectively narrating key details of selected events.
    • The range of texts offered by candidates remained as wide as in previous years: in Drama,
    Shakespeare, Miller and Williams continue to dominate; in longer Prose, all the “standard” novels
    were widely used, with evidence that some relatively contemporary novels are also being studied as
    class texts; there were fewer responses using a short story; in Poetry, there continues to be a pleasing
    and remarkably wide range of material being studied.
    • Scottish texts were used widely in all main areas except Drama; around 50% of candidates answered
    using at least one Scottish text.
    • Markers who commented on candidates’ expression and technical accuracy were mostly positive and
    noted “no change” or “a slight improvement”.

    (Original post by SQA 2009 Higher English Report)
    the question on both Passages is a key feature of the Higher English Arrangements and tests valuable
    reading skills; it is worth a significant number of marks; responses to comparison questions should be
    focused, structured and written in continuous prose;
    Does this basically mean we should not bullet point but write in full sentences?

    (Original post by SQA 2009 Higher English Report)
    “analysis” should support, not dominate, the line of thought in a Critical Essay; when attempting to
    analyse, they should deal with features/techniques which are appropriate to the genre; “micro-analysis”
    of novels and plays should be avoided
    What does "micro-analysis" mean?

    (Original post by garlicbreadman)

    What does "micro-analysis mean?
    My teacher talks about this a lot, it's when you analyse every single word in a long text that don't particularly have any relevance to the themes.
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