Time for a new challenge.

So it’s back. Another academic year, another set of challenges. If you have just sat your National 5 and are embarking on Higher, or repeating Higher English, what are you going to do differently this year? Higher is a big step up from National 5 with the pass mark for an A band 1 up by almost 10%.

‘If we do what we always did; we get what we always got’

Change your approach. It may not need to be a dramatically different approach – some of what you did before will serve you well this year. One small tip is to start revising earlier in the year. That means breaking down what you have been studying in the few short weeks of the course and trying to ensure that you understand and remember it.

Familiarise yourself with the main themes of the critical essay text, the setting and the characters, with a little on their characteristics. Likewise, for the Scottish Set Text, get an early understanding of the key themes, characters and areas of commonality. You just need to be able to tell your parents / friends etc., ‘Hey, I am studying this text, the main themes are…and the main characters are…’. If you begin with small steps such as these, you will find the daily work on the text much easier and ultimately more enjoyable.

Get a breakdown of your component grades from National 5 or when you first sat Higher. Have a look at which area(s) you struggle with and make this your priority.

If it is the RUAE, ensure you understand what the questions are asking you for. Then, do you know what is required to answer the questions? Every question has a specific formula, and if you know the formula then you can answer any question of this type.

If you struggled with the Scottish Set Text, look back on what it was about that text that you struggled with. Was it the ability to remember quotes or characteristics? If so, then start picking out the important quotes right at the start of the year. Break them into smaller numbers and begin to revise them and some analysis to go with them. Make it achievable though, two or three quotes per 10 days are more than enough for some people.

Was it the actual structure of the 8/10 marker question? If it was, then ensure that you target the approach of how you gain these marks. Avoid treating this question as a complete block of 10 marks; instead, break it down so that it is five questions, each worth two marks. Make sure you ask your teacher for a good model piece. A good teacher will not only give you some of these but will also explain WHERE the marks came from.

Maybe you simply did not engage with the text. That can and does happen, but this is a new year and therefore a different text, so how are you going to engage with this year’s text? What will you change? What do you wish you had asked or done last year when you first struggled with the text?

‘If we do what we always did; we get what we always got’. 


Please contact me for help and advice on any aspect of improving your studying this year.