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How to pass Higher English with an A.


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#1 Vixus

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 03:03 PM

No really, how do you do it? Is it just me, or is the english course unnecessarily hard to pass? My teacher has estimated everyone in the class at a C pass (out of kindness) as most of us failed our prelims (I passed by 1.5 marks)...

So what's up with that? How am I supposed to pass?? I want to get into Oxford, and for that I need straight As... I think I'm capable of getting that in my other subjects, but apparently English is impossible to get an A in.

Any English boffins out there? Help me out!

#2 Chünz

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 03:30 PM

Nah it's not impossible - if you have worked hard then you can get an A. My English teacher told me about a boy who failed his prelim with a big fat F and in the higher exam he got an A band 1 - it can be done!

Just remember, that in the interps, when answering questions, state the obvious - don't try to 'flourish' your answer... get down the facts for the exact answer.

In the essays, try to make sure you answer the question. When answering points in an essay I would make a new paragraph for each point.

Within each paragraph, try to include.

1 - Topic sentence: Just generally the point you are going to discuss
2 - Evidence: Try to use a quote or reference to the text.
3 - Explain: Here is VERY important. You should relate why the point you made is relevant to the question and what it means.

Also, along the way, just add in extra paragraphs which relate to the question just to keep the examiner happy.

In your intro and conclusion, ALWAYS relate to the question... this shows the examiner that you have taken the question into consideration and are trying to concentrate on it.

When you are in the exam, just relax and take it one step at a time. Trust me, you'll be fine! biggrin.gif

#3 Vixus

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 04:04 PM

Well, thank you very much, at least you've given me more confidence than my english teacher has. I'll try and follow your advice.

#4 Steve

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 06:03 PM

Hi,

I'll try to help out as much as possible, but I won't kid you and say that there is a recipe for success!

Higher English wasn't really my strong point - I had to work really hard to get an A. I do have a few tips though:

1. Make sure you know your texts as well as possible. If you are studying a play, it might help to go and see it (especially if it is Shakespeare). I did this before my Higher Exam - it wasn't expensive, just an amateur production, but it really helps to get it into your memory, and it actually makes more sense when you see it - honest!

2. Do lots of practice. I found that it wasn't necessary to write whole essays for practicing (though one every so often is good). What I did was to go through all the past papers and try to write down an essay plan for how I would answer the questions (you can see some essay plans in the Higher English section of the site). This way you can find out where the gaps in your knowledge are and fix them!

3. Good structure. I was taught only to write things in essays that are relevant to the question - this is harder than it sounds! Each paragraph should make a point relevant to the question and each should end with a sentence about how the point answers the question. It is easier to see what I mean if you have a look at the sample essays in the Higher English section.

My rule of thumb for writing essays was to have at least 6 or 7 good clear points - this sounds a lot but it's not really. Since the essays are marked out of 25 (at least they were when I sat it!) then if you get 3 marks for each good point, then that takes you right into A territory straight away. A couple of marks for a good conclusion and a mark for a concise introduction will put you well on the way.

There really are no tips for Close Reading - I can only suggest that you try lots of past paper questions (I was doing about two a week in class and one for homework in the run up to the exams). I'm sure your teacher wouldn't mind marking a paper if you asked. And don't forget that if you don't do so well in a particular part, get help and make sure you don't make the same mistakes again. There is nothing more annoying than not revising a concept then having a question come up on it in the exam!
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#5 Chünz

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 06:49 PM

Also, if you haven't already tried, maybe you could ask your teacher if the class could all do a timed essay and/or interpretation. This would give you a taste of what it's really like in the exam. It really helps!

#6 The Wedge Effect

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 07:34 PM

My teacher gave the class notes on how to pass the reading paper better:

Before reading passage:-

* Read blurb and headline
* Skim thru questions including those on both passages
* Run your eyes down the marking scheme paying particular attention to those at end

Understanding

Look for topic sentences (usually at beginning of paragraph)
Identify subject of sentence, ignoring stuff in parenthesis in longer sentences.
In a 4 mark question, do bullet-points if time is against you.
DO NOT lose marks in link questions - 4 parts, 2 examples of words/phrases plus arguments/points they refer to.

Analysis

Use marking scheme as a guide
Remember that there is no marks for mere identification of a technique or quote.
Imagery questions - simile, metaphor, personification - think of connotations
Identify/quote examples of imagery - denotations (literal) and connotations and effect.
Sentence structure questions - know different forms of punctuations and be aware of effect
Be aware of repetitions, word order, length of sentence, (anti)climax and lists
Rhetorical questions - can be persuasive
Non-rhetorical questions - can create atmosphere or tone, creates curiosity/establishes personal relationship, conversational tone/involves reader.
Tone - voice. Mood - emotions. Atmosphere - senses

Evaluation

Sometimes E/U - you must demonstrate understanding and comment on effectiveness.
Sometimes E/A - you must identify image, analyse that image and say how effective it is

Questions on both passages

Read questions in this section very carefully - six items which you must get straight in your thought before you even can start the answer.

Justify - means that you have to provide evidence which shows why you found one passage more persuasive than another.
N.B. No Marks for stating "I found passage (1/2) more persuasive..."

Style - covers basically all work that you have done on analysis.

Ideas - covers the content and arguments of the passages, things you have deduced from your understanding of the passage.

of both passages - You must have materials in your answer from both passages. While you do not have to deal with each passages equally, you do have to consider both in your answer to achieve full marks.

Finally - use your time well!

* Don't repeat questions before answering it e.g. "The retail therapy means..."
* Distinguish between "explain briefly" and "explain fully"
* Identify usually means something quite simple - name it, or list them (usually in your own words)
* Use the line reference you are given to home in on exactly the section you need.

________________________________________

I hope this helped you all! biggrin.gif

#7 dfx

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 08:11 PM

From an optimists point of view. If you think you're capable of say 15/25 in each essay? And you scrape a 30/50 - average - in your close reading, thats definitely an A or near one anyway.

#8 werlop

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 08:33 PM

Going by the last 2 years you would need a further 4 marks for an A.

So if you got 16/25 for both essays and 32/50 for the close reading, you've got it in the bag.
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#9 Discogirl17

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 10:52 PM

Valuable Advice on Close Readings

QUOTE(Steve @ May 9 2005, 06:03 PM)
Hi,

I'll try to help out as much as possible, but I won't kid you and say that there is a recipe for success!

Higher English wasn't really my strong point - I had to work really hard to get an A. I do have a few tips though:

1. Make sure you know your texts as well as possible. If you are studying a play, it might help to go and see it (especially if it is Shakespeare). I did this before my Higher Exam - it wasn't expensive, just an amateur production, but it really helps to get it into your memory, and it actually makes more sense when you see it - honest!

2. Do lots of practice. I found that it wasn't necessary to write whole essays for practicing (though one every so often is good). What I did was to go through all the past papers and try to write down an essay plan for how I would answer the questions (you can see some essay plans in the Higher English section of the site). This way you can find out where the gaps in your knowledge are and fix them!

3. Good structure. I was taught only to write things in essays that are relevant to the question - this is harder than it sounds! Each paragraph should make a point relevant to the question and each should end with a sentence about how the point answers the question. It is easier to see what I mean if you have a look at the sample essays in the Higher English section.

My rule of thumb for writing essays was to have at least 6 or 7 good clear points - this sounds a lot but it's not really. Since the essays are marked out of 25 (at least they were when I sat it!) then if you get 3 marks for each good point, then that takes you right into A territory straight away. A couple of marks for a good conclusion and a mark for a concise introduction will put you well on the way.

There really are no tips for Close Reading - I can only suggest that you try lots of past paper questions (I was doing about two a week in class and one for homework in the run up to the exams). I'm sure your teacher wouldn't mind marking a paper if you asked. And don't forget that if you don't do so well in a particular part, get help and make sure you don't make the same mistakes again. There is nothing more annoying than not revising a concept then having a question come up on it in the exam!

View Post




QUOTE(Wedge37 @ May 9 2005, 07:34 PM)
My teacher gave the class notes on how to pass the reading paper better:

Before reading passage:-

* Read blurb and headline
* Skim thru questions including those on both passages
* Run your eyes down the marking scheme paying particular attention to those at end

Understanding

Look for topic sentences (usually at beginning of paragraph)
Identify subject of sentence, ignoring stuff in parenthesis in longer sentences.
In a 4 mark question, do bullet-points if time is against you.
DO NOT lose marks in link questions - 4 parts, 2 examples of words/phrases plus arguments/points they refer to.

Analysis

Use marking scheme as a guide
Remember that there is no marks for mere identification of a technique or quote.
Imagery questions - simile, metaphor, personification - think of connotations
Identify/quote examples of imagery - denotations (literal) and connotations and effect.
Sentence structure questions - know different forms of punctuations and be aware of effect
Be aware of repetitions, word order, length of sentence, (anti)climax and lists
Rhetorical questions - can be persuasive
Non-rhetorical questions - can create atmosphere or tone, creates curiosity/establishes personal relationship, conversational tone/involves reader.
Tone - voice. Mood - emotions. Atmosphere - senses

Evaluation

Sometimes E/U - you must demonstrate understanding and comment on effectiveness.
Sometimes E/A - you must identify image, analyse that image and say how effective it is

Questions on both passages

Read questions in this section very carefully - six items which you must get straight in your thought before you even can start the answer.

Justify - means that you have to provide evidence which shows why you found one passage more persuasive than another.
N.B. No Marks for stating "I found passage (1/2) more persuasive..."

Style - covers basically all work that you have done on analysis.

Ideas - covers the content and arguments of the passages, things you have deduced from your understanding of the passage.

of both passages - You must have materials in your answer from both passages. While you do not have to deal with each passages equally, you do have to consider both in your answer to achieve full marks.

Finally - use your time well!

* Don't repeat questions before answering it e.g. "The retail therapy means..."
* Distinguish between "explain briefly" and "explain fully"
* Identify usually means something quite simple - name it, or list them (usually in your own words)
* Use the line reference you are given to home in on exactly the section you need.

________________________________________

I hope this helped you all! biggrin.gif

View Post



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#10 Ally

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 08:09 AM

Yeah, my teachers stressed what Steve said : Make your essay relevant and make sure you answer the question. Apparently a lot of people remember essays they've done before and use these in the exams - don't let this be your downfall - the examiners fail you for this!

The sunday herald has exam guides for last year on their website:

http://www.sundayherald.com/np/examguides.shtml

#11 Discogirl17

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 05:58 PM

Ok thanx for that Ally, no one will fail though, dont listen to him saying the f word!

I'm dissappointed with you Ally, thats a word we dont use this near to an exam.
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#12 Vixus

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 06:21 PM

QUOTE(Steve @ May 9 2005, 06:03 PM)
Hi,

I'll try to help out as much as possible, but I won't kid you and say that there is a recipe for success!

Yeah, unfortunately I understood this...

QUOTE
1. Make sure you know your texts as well as possible. If you are studying a play, it might help to go and see it (especially if it is Shakespeare). I did this before my Higher Exam - it wasn't expensive, just an amateur production, but it really helps to get it into your memory, and it actually makes more sense when you see it - honest!

Shakespeare? Huh, we have to do Bold Girls, some Irish play...

QUOTE
2. Do lots of practice. I found that it wasn't necessary to write whole essays for practicing (though one every so often is good). What I did was to go through all the past papers and try to write down an essay plan for how I would answer the questions (you can see some essay plans in the Higher English section of the site). This way you can find out where the gaps in your knowledge are and fix them!

I have been practising by doing tons of essays, and I'm glad to say I've improved (I got 17 and 14 for two, which got me 70%!) Unfortunately, none of the essay plans on the site relate to any texts we're doing... on the plus side, our teacher has given us lots of essay plans, maybe I could give them to HSN after the exams?

QUOTE
3. Good structure. I was taught only to write things in essays that are relevant to the question - this is harder than it sounds! Each paragraph should make a point relevant to the question and each should end with a sentence about how the point answers the question. It is easier to see what I mean if you have a look at the sample essays in the Higher English section.

Yes, this is VERY important, my teacher has been reminding me about structure for ages. I'll be sure to follow this in the exam.

QUOTE
My rule of thumb for writing essays was to have at least 6 or 7 good clear points - this sounds a lot but it's not really. Since the essays are marked out of 25 (at least they were when I sat it!) then if you get 3 marks for each good point, then that takes you right into A territory straight away. A couple of marks for a good conclusion and a mark for a concise introduction will put you well on the way.

Hmm, I never thought of it that way... this could really help me!

QUOTE
There really are no tips for Close Reading - I can only suggest that you try lots of past paper questions (I was doing about two a week in class and one for homework in the run up to the exams). I'm sure your teacher wouldn't mind marking a paper if you asked. And don't forget that if you don't do so well in a particular part, get help and make sure you don't make the same mistakes again. There is nothing more annoying than not revising a concept then having a question come up on it in the exam!

I've been doing a different essay every day for around two weeks... like I said, I've been improving (I think!)

I'll be printing all your tips out for revision, thanks guys!


#13 dfx

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 06:27 PM

Yeah the marks distribution hit me in the shower this morning.. but anyway

#14 Vixus

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 06:32 PM

It did? Please elaborate! biggrin.gif

Oh by the way, would the sample essays in the HEng section get As? wink.gif

#15 Discogirl17

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 08:30 PM

QUOTE
I have been practising by doing tons of essays, and I'm glad to say I've improved (I got 17 and 14 for two, which got me 70%!) Unfortunately, none of the essay plans on the site relate to any texts we're doing... on the plus side, our teacher has given us lots of essay plans, maybe I could give them to HSN after the exams?


Please do contribute them to hsn

QUOTE(Vixus @ May 10 2005, 06:32 PM)
It did? Please elaborate! biggrin.gif

Oh by the way, would the sample essays in the HEng section get As? wink.gif

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They would definately pass, but getting As... I'm not sure. You'd have to ask Steve..he wrote them. I peesonally dont think they'd get As...sorry if they did man... maybe a high B.
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#16 George

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 09:06 PM

QUOTE(Vixus @ May 10 2005, 07:32 PM)
Oh by the way, would the sample essays in the HEng section get As? wink.gif

View Post


They were written by Steve and myself when we sat Higher English two years ago ( ohmy.gif )

I think all the ones we put on the site were given 18+ out of 25 by our teacher, but she wasn't an SQA marker so who knows really biggrin.gif


Just a reminder for everyone - if you have brilliant (or very good) essays, with plans or rough notes to go with them, we'd really like to hear from you smile.gif Take a look at the HSN contribute page for more details!

#17 Vixus

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 09:15 PM

Hmm, what about quote lists? I have been doing them for Cone Gatherers and Bold Girls, and will do them for Ted Hughes and My Last Duchess if possible.

#18 George

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 10:29 PM

I think those could be useful, but we'd probably like to have essays and notes with them. Someone else might be able to add to what you contribute, so it would still be worthwhile.

#19 Steve

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 08:50 AM

QUOTE(Discogirl17 @ May 10 2005, 09:30 PM)
QUOTE
I have been practising by doing tons of essays, and I'm glad to say I've improved (I got 17 and 14 for two, which got me 70%!) Unfortunately, none of the essay plans on the site relate to any texts we're doing... on the plus side, our teacher has given us lots of essay plans, maybe I could give them to HSN after the exams?


Please do contribute them to hsn

Since these are the property of your teacher, it would really have to be him/her that got in touch with us, or at least give you his/her consent.

Sounds like they could be useful though. smile.gif
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#20 Vixus

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 05:15 PM

They aren't property of our teacher... she just helped us to make them.





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