Study Guide - Higher English - Introduction

Higher English -
a Study Guide



When asked about time spent at home revising and preparing for English exams, too many people reply, “Well . . you can't really revise for English!” This is simply untrue and more often than not, is just a weak excuse to salve a guilty conscience. The reality is that English combines a wide range of quite specific skills and the only way that you will master them is if you familiarise yourself with them and gain some practical experience of them.


There is no doubt that people who read a lot gradually build up an intuitive understanding of many of the skills involved in English. However, unless you have unlimited time for your skills to develop, then you must make a conscious effort to cultivate them. In order to improve, you must increase you exposure to – and your awareness of – language. If you don't do this then you will struggle with Higher English. Many people hope to write a good Critical Essay . . . without actually knowing the text. Many hope to cope with Close Reading . . . without ever reading quality journalism. Such people will, quite rightly, fail – you won't get something for nothing!



The following information should help you to understand the skills you will be assessed on in the Higher, as well as providing advice on how to use your English study time effectively and how to look for faults/weaknesses in your own work.

At all times remember that your future is in your hands (not your teachers', not your parents'). Also remember that any lack of motivation must be addressed and resolved now, or you will have to live with the consequences for years to come.



As with any other subject, your approach to English should involve:

•  identifying /clarifying exactly what is being tested by the examiners

•  developing your knowledge and understanding of those skills

•  identifying your weaknesses/problems/deficiencies

•  remedial action , targeted at specific problems (i.e. more practice)


Now that you have the general idea, it's time to get down to specifics.
You will find detailed and useful advice on how to improve your chances of success in May at the following Paper 1 and Paper 2 links:

THE EXAM - 70%

Paper 1 - Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation (Close Reading)

              (30 Marks in 90 minutes)

Paper 2 - Critical Reading

              (40 Marks in 90 minutes Total)

              Paper 2 consists of the following two sections:   

              Section 1 - Scottish Text

              (20 Marks in 45 minutes)

              Section 2 - Critical Essay

             (20 Marks in 45 minutes)


Neil McIlvanney 2014