(Original post by Weelouise)
I'm doing Higher English as an external candidate - doing everything on my own from home.
For RUAE, I am planning on just doing all the past and practice papers I can find, to hopefully find the technique to answering these types of questions. Is that all you can really do for RUAE?
For critical reading I'm doing 6 poems by Norman MacCaig and The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway. Apart from learning the texts off by heart, what else can I do to practice? And does anyone have tips for structuring the essay?
Lastly, for the portfolio, is there a certain structure for these pieces of writing and how do you choose a topic?
Thanks for any advice - English is a struggle with no tutor help at all and I need to get a B.
For RUAE, the most important advice is to quote from the text, and provide a relevant comment. That and, like you say, learn the formula for answering each question type.
For the Scottish Text (MacCaig), annotating the poems is really helpful, and make sure you are analysing them. Practice the 10 markers, and learn the structure in terms of what gets the marks, as no matter the question, they always use the same marking structure. Make sure you do a lot of work in terms of finding commonalities between the poems, as this will help loads with the 10 marker. For the other questions, it's a case of knowing the poems (remember they will be about the printed one!) and being able to analyse their meaning.
When it comes to the critical essay, the structure I generally used was introduction, 4 paragraphs (4 points) and conclusion. Don't try and memorise essays, but I did find it helpful to have a sort of template to my introduction, which I then adapted to fit the specific question- it helped me to get started, which I always struggled with. Within each of your 4 main paragraphs, you want a topic sentence (which should pretty much summarise your paragraph/point), you should then provide evidence for your point. Then, the vital bit of a good essay, ANALYSE the evidence you have given and how that shows the point you are trying to make. And then finally, again really important to a good essay- link back to the question!
For the folio, you just need 2 pieces, one discursive/persuasive, and one creative/personal. There isn't really a specific structure, particularly for the creative/personal- do whatever makes sense for the piece to have the desired effect. For the discursive/persuasive, an introduction, 4(ish) points/paragraphs, and a conclusion is suitable. In terms of choosing a topic, for the discursive/persuasive, don't do something that's overdone, unless you have a new slant to it- instead choose something topical and current- and it's usually easier to write about something you're passionate about. The news can be a good place for inspiration, and there are thousands of topic ideas available online that might help you find your own idea. And for the personal/creative, it's pretty open really. You can choose something real life, or it can be entirely made up- the key is that it's well written, and engaging.
Hope this helps!