The course involves developing pupils’ skills in reading, writing, talk and listening. Pupils will build on the skills they have already and tackle many tasks which will be familiar to them, such as reading literary texts, writing and group discussion. Some aspects of the course may be new to them, for example the Scottish Text Question (STQ) element. The class teacher will guide them through this.
National 5 is a challenging course and pupils will need to work hard to achieve their best. Teachers are there to offer support and guidance but the motivation to achieve success must come from pupils.
Some pupils study Nat. 5 in S4; others study it in S5, having already obtained Nat 4 in S4. Both ways work: the course is designed to be flexible.
Nat 5 is, for many pupils, a preparation for Higher English, done in either S5 or S6.
How is the course assessed?
There are two types of assessment:
- Internal assessment
- External assessment
In this assessment candidates have to do at least one of the following spoken language activities:
- Take part in a group discussion, or discussion-based activity, to which they contribute relevant ideas, opinions, or information, using detailed language. Candidates must take account of the contributions of others and stay focused on the topic or task.
- Prepare and present a presentation. The presentation must be detailed in content, and must be structured in a clear and relevant way. Candidates must answer questions from the audience at some point in the presentation.
The talk assessment is assessed on a pass/fail basis and does not count towards the final grade.
External assessment. There are two elements of this.
Writing Portfolio. (Worth 30%)
- You will write two pieces, one creative (imaginative or personal/reflective) and one discursive (argumentative or persuasive). Each is worth 15% each of your final mark
- You will receive some support from your teacher but it must be your own work. Your teacher is not allowed to give you a plan or correct eg punctuation errors. That is your job. You may redraft your portfolio pieces.
- It is important that you meet the departmental deadlines for folio pieces as this ensures that the work is your own. Guidance form the SQA states “at all stages of the preparation for and the production of the piece there should be careful monitoring to ensure that it is entirely the candidate’s work. It is important that confidence in the authenticity of a candidate’s work is established before the finished piece is handed in. Where there is doubt over the authenticity of a piece of writing it should not be accepted for portfolio submission.”
- The SQA require folios to fit a template which they provide. It is advised that you make use of this template as early as possible in the writing process.
- The maximum number of words is 1000; suggested minimum is around 500.
- Your portfolio will be sent to the SQA for marking, probably before Easter.
Folio submissions for National 5 and Higher
At the beginning of November 2015 the SQA informed schools that the English folio for National 5 and Higher would be marked via e-marking. Paper copies of candidates’ work will still be sent to the SQA but candidates’ scripts will be scanned by the SQA and passed to markers electronically. This, however, does mean that the SQA wish pupils to hand in their work on a template which they have provided. The use of a template means that the work of a pupil will not be missed in the scanning process. The folio is comprised of two essays, which are worth 15 marks each, and accounts for 30% of the final grade. Both essays have to be included on one template.
Below is a link to the template on the SQA website.
This will take you to the Higher English homepage (the template is the same for both National 5 and Higher) and you should then find the template in the section “Submitting Coursework.”
In order to avoid teaching and learning time being taken up in printing off essays, all drafts of folio work should be handed in using the template in a hard copy format.
Exam (worth 70% of the final grade)
- Paper 1 (worth 30%) is Reading for Understanding, Analysis, Evaluation (U,A,E). This used to be called Close Reading
- In Paper 1, you will read 1 non-fiction passage and answer questions on it.
- You will develop your skills in summarising, comparing, contrasting and analysing to build your confidence in tackling this paper.
- Paper 2 (worth 40%) is Critical Reading. This is the study of literature.
- Paper 2 has 2 parts, each worth 20%
- One part of Paper 2 is the Scottish Text Question (STQ). For this you will study one writer/text from the SQA list of Scottish texts.
- In the STQ exam, you will answer questions on a text or extract from a text. 12 marks will be on the text printed in the exam. The other 8 marks will test your knowledge of the wider text or other works by the same writer.
- One part of Paper 2 is the Critical Essay. You will write one essay on a literary text you have studied. This will not be the same text as your STQ text. You cannot write on the same genre for you essay and your STQ.
- Your teacher may choose to study 2 texts from the SQA list. If so, he/she will explain.
Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation
The following main command words are generally used in this question paper:
- explain (why): used to assess understanding of a writer’s ideas (always followed by ‘in your own words’)
- explain (how): used to assess the skills of analysis
- identify: used to assess the skill of summarising (identifying the main points or ideas)
The following command words are generally used in section 1 of this question paper:
- identify or summarise: candidates are required to identify and isolate a writer’s key points/key narrative events, etc. Candidates are instructed to use their own words
- explain: candidates are required to demonstrate understanding of eg characterisation, narrative, theme or to analyse a writer’s use of language (eg word choice, figurative language, sentence structure, punctuation, sound, etc)
- show: candidates are asked to show how the writer explores a given topic, or uses a literary or linguistic technique, across more than one poem/short story, or a longer text in its entirety
Candidates must choose a different genre from the one selected for section 1The essay should be relevant to the question throughout, and should achieve minimum requirements for technical accuracy.
The following main command words are generally used in section 2 of this question paper:
- describe and explain
- show how
- explain how
- explain and evaluate
All of the above command words invite candidates to demonstrate their skills of understanding, analysis, and evaluation. Each question includes the instruction: ‘by referring to appropriate techniques’, which serves as a reminder for candidates of the need to demonstrate skills of analysis.
Recording & Reporting
Specific Home Study tasks will be distributed on a regular basis by individual class teachers, but pupils are also advised to revise English skills independently. It is expected that pupils devote at least 2 hours per week completing independent study and/or English Home Study tasks.
Self-revision/Home Study exercises that pupils are recommended to undertake should include:
- Consolidation of knowledge of class texts and close reading skills
- Close Reading practice assessments
- Reading quality newspapers using close reading skills
- Preparation for presentations
- Writing folio essays