Higher English


National 3, 4 & 5


Advanced Higher

Students who have achieved success at National 5 English can go on to study Higher English in S5 or S6. The course is best suited to students who enjoy reading as the units and examinations rely heavily on a student’s ability to explain and analyse complex fiction and non-fiction texts. Higher English students are required to read and study independently making use of class notes and the wide range of online resources available to them in order to be successful.


Higher English includes two main units which are internally assessed:

  • Analysis & Evaluation – Listening & Reading
  • Creation & Production – Writing & Talking


Higher English also includes external assessments by the SQA in the form of a folio of written work and two examination papers which focus on reading skills.


Unit Assessments – Internally assessed


Analysis & Evaluation


Reading – Evidence for the successful completion of this component can be produced in many ways by students for assessment purposes. Most often, this will take the form of a close reading passage and written responses to questions focussing on explanation of the main ideas in their own words and their ability to analyse complex language techniques.


Listening – Students will be exposed to a wide range of audio texts such as documentaries, film versions of plays, YouTube clips and feature films. The listening assessments allow students to take notes before responding to a series of questions which demonstrate their understanding and ability to put ideas into their own words. To fully achieve a pass in this unit at Higher level, students are required to recognise and fully explain the success of spoken voice techniques such as tone, persuasion, repetition and imagery.


Creation & Production


Writing – For Higher English, students are required to produce at least two extended written texts which show their ability to communicate using a wide range of vocabulary, sophisticated expression and varied language techniques. These are required to be redrafted, developed and improved for the purpose of external assessment by the SQA. Typically, the folio will include a transactional text (discursive, persuasive essay, a report) and one creative text which could include a short story, poem, or most commonly a piece of personal reflective writing. Students must ensure their work is entirely their own and should keep an accurate record of sources as evidence.


Talking – Skills in talking can be assessed in a variety of ways in Higher English. Typically, evidence will be gathered from group and paired discussion and in addition most students will be asked to complete some form of individual talk or presentation to meet the required assessment standard at each level. Students must speak in detail and incorporate language techniques (tone, repetition, rhetorical questions, sophisticated word choice) as well as showing awareness of body language.



Higher Examinations / Assessment


Examination – Reading for Understanding, Analysis & Evaluation

  • 1 hour 30 mins – 30 marks
  • Reading two non-fiction passages and answering questions to show understanding and ability to analyse and explain complex language techniques. A final comparison question tests skills in understanding and the candidate’s ability to summarise a writer’s main argument.


Examination – Critical Reading

  • 1 hr 30 mins – 40 marks
  • Section 1 – Scottish Texts – 20 marks – Students will be required to answer textual analysis style questions based on texts they have previously studied in class.
  • Section 2 – Critical Essay – 20 marks – Students will be required to write one essay responding to a question which is relevant to a text they have studied in the course.


Writing Folio – Externally assessed by SQA – Submitted in March

  • 2 pieces of writing from different genres.
  • 1 piece transactional, 1 piece creative.
  • Total of 30 marks available – 15 marks for each piece.