English Higher

Purposes and Aims of the Course

The main purpose of the Course is to provide learners with the opportunity to develop the skills of listening, talking, reading and writing in order to understand and use language. As learners develop their literacy skills, they will be able to process information more easily, apply knowledge of language in practical and relevant contexts, and gain confidence to undertake new and more challenging tasks in a variety of situations. Building on literacy skills, the Course develops understanding of the complexities of language, including through the study of a wide range of texts. The Course develops high levels of analytical thinking and understanding of the impact of language.

The Course offers learners opportunities to develop and extend a wide range of skills. In particular, the Course aims to enable learners to develop the ability to:

  • listen, talk, read and write, as appropriate to purpose, audience and context
  • understand, analyse and evaluate texts, including Scottish texts, as appropriate to purpose and audience in the contexts of literature, language and media
  • create and produce texts, as appropriate to purpose, audience and context
  • apply knowledge and understanding of language

Scottish Texts Studied

Your son or daughter will be taught one of the following Scottish Set Texts.  This is worth 20% of their overall grade and is marked out of 20.  They should spend approximately 45 minutes to complete this element of paper 2.  Pupils will be provided with an extract from their chosen text or a copy of one of the poems taught in class.  They will have to answer 10 marks worth of questions on the extract or poem and then a further 10 mark question where they are required to make reference to other aspects of the text, outwith the extract, or at least one other poem by the same poet.

There is a clear structure to answering this question.

The first 2 marks are for the commonality.  This is where the pupil needs to explain how the extract or poem they have been provided with links to another aspect of the text or at least one other poem.  They should outline the key themes that are explore and linked this to the initial question.

The next 2 marks are awarded for analysing and evaluating how the extract or poem provided relate to the initial question.  It is important that pupils remember that, unlike National 5, they do not receive marks for providing a direct textual reference but instead all marks allocated based on the depth of analysis and evaluation provided.  Pupils are encouraged to make reference to two examples instead of one.

The final 6 marks are awarded for analysing and evaluating at least three examples from other parts of the text or at least one other poem in relation to the initial question.  Similarily, pupils are encouraged to provide more than 3 examples to achieve 6 marks.

‘Men Should Weep’ by Ena Lamont Stewart

Image result for men should weep


Poetry of Carol Ann Duffy


‘Mrs Midas’


‘War Photographer’

‘The Way My Mother Speaks’

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‘Miss Tilscher’s Classroom’


Poetry of Norman MacCaig

‘Hotel Room 12th Floor’

‘Brooklyn Cop’


‘Visiting Hour’

‘Aunt Julia’

‘Basking Shark’


Critical Essay

The second part of the critical reading paper involves pupils writing a critical essay based on a text taught in class.  This must be a different genre to their Scottish text.  Pupils should spend approximately 45 minutes writing this response and should aim to write approximately 800 words.  The exam paper will contain 2 essay questions for each genre.  Pupils will select one of these questions.  In order to writre a successful and effective critical essay pupils should make effective use of textual references, make implicit and explicit references to the question throughout their response, analyse and evaluate textual references, structure their response in a coherent and fluent manner and write in an accurate and stylish manner.  This aspect of the course is worth 20% of their overall mark and is marked out of 20.

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D.Salinger


‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare


‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald


‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare


‘The Great Gatsby’ by Baz Luhrmann

RUAE – Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation


This aspect of the course is a separate paper and is worth 30% of the overall grade and is marked out of 30.  Pupils are given 1 hour and 30 minutes to answer a range of questions on writer’s language and their ability to understand and extract and paraphrase the key ideas included in the text.

The pupils will be provided with two non-fiction newspaper articles, that focus on the same topic.

The first 25 marks focus on passage one.  Pupils will encounter the following question types:

  • understanding questions – pupils are required to summarise the key ideas, in their own words, without quoting directly from the passage.  The number of points required directly correlates with the number of marks allocated.  Pupils are encouraged to write their answers using bullet points.
  • writer’s language – pupils are asked to comment on the effect of writer’s language such as: word choice, imagery, sentence structure and tone.
  • word choice – pupils start by quoting an example of emotive language, 0 marks are allocated for quotation, before outlining the connotations of their chosen word, approximatley 4, before explaining what makes their chosen word effect in that particular context.
  • imagery – pupils are asked to comment on the effect of the writer’s use of imagery.  It is implied that the effect will be positive.  Once they have selected an image they should comment on both the literal and metaphorical meaning using the formula, just as, so too, taught in class.  They should then explain what makes this image effective in this particular context.
  • Sentence structure – pupils are asked to comment on the effective of particular aspects of sentence structure, such as : repetition, inversion, semi-colons, colons, inverted commas, lists, minor sentences, balanced sentences, rhetorical questions, ellipsis and parenthesis.  Pupils must evaluate the effect of their chosen technique within the context of the passage and not merely providing a generic definition.
  • Tone – tone questions require pupils to firstly identify the tone and then explain how the writer’s use of language creates this tone.  It is important that pupils do not simply say the writer uses a positive or negative tone.  These are both too vague.
  • Effective conclusion – pupils are being asked to evaluate the final paragraph and explain how it links to an idea or ideas mentioned earlier in the passage.  Pupils should select a quotation from the final paragrapjh and evaluate the idea contained within the example and then select an example from earlier in the passage, evaluate it and then explain the connection.
  • 5 mark question – this question is asking the pupils to identify three areas of agreement or disagreement between the two passages and evaluate the evidence selected.  This is marked holistically instead of accumulatively.  Pupils are encouraged to use the following formula:

Passage 1 and 2 disagree on…

Select a quotation from each passage.

Evaluate the evidence in relation to the initial area of commonality.

Pupils should do this three times to achieve 5 marks.


Pupils need to complete a portfolio by the start of March.  This is submitted to the SQA for extrenal assessment.  Each piece is marked out of 15 and is worth 15%.  Overall, the portfolio is worth 30%.  Pupils must submit a broadly discursive piece of writing (discursive, persuasive or informative) and a broadly creative piece (personal, short story, opening chapter, poem,monlogue…).  At Higher, each piece must be at least 650 words.  The word limit for each piece is 1,300 words.  These should be inserted into the SQA template and printed off, singled sided and not stapled.








Link to course page on SQA website here.


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Categories: EnglishHigher

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