Senior phase

Understanding what you read is the key to success in most subject areas


Being able to understand what they have read is key to success in many different subject areas at this stage. The more your young adult reads, the greater the depth of understanding they will have and the greater their ability to cope with complex texts.

It is always worth encouraging young people to read and here is a useful booklist for young adults. Creating positive associations with books and reading will always be helpful and this can be done even as your son/daughter gets older:

  • having a relaxing reading area in your home, free from distractions
  • watching / recommending the film of a book you love
  • talking about books you’ve enjoyed
  • letting your son/daughter see you read
Let young people see you read

Increased reading of non fiction texts can also be extremely useful at this stage. Good quality journalism and magazine articles can be accessed on phones and tablets, sometimes by subscription, but sometimes for free. The magazines in weekend broadsheets are a good source for interesting articles on a range of topics as are many good quality film, music or fashion magazines. The key at this stage is to start to think critically about what is being read – examining texts for bias, thinking about the language that’s used.

Good quality magazines can be a great source of reading material

Audio books can be a great way into texts as well. They can be played in the car or downloaded onto a tablet or phone. Some useful sites include:

Understanding complex information can come through developing listening skills as well as reading skills. TedTalks have a variety of presentations on a wide range of topics.

Podcasts are another way to access information on a wide variety of topics, with various free podcast apps available through a simple search on your phone’s store. If your young person loves reading then this list of literature related podcasts might be useful.


Asking the right questions

One of the key things at this level of literacy is supporting young people to think in deth about what they’ve read or listened to.

Here is a straightforward guide to higher order thinking skills which explains things in more detail

Here are some simple question stems which you could print out and have as a reminder


Preparing for exams

Whether it’s a National course, Higher or Advanced Higher, there are ways you can help your child to prepare for the demands of the courses and final exams they will face in the senior phase. Below are some ideas particularly relating to Nat 5 and Higher English:

  • Provide access to quality newspapers and journalism
  • Ensure that they re-read their texts at night
  • Talk to them about the texts they are studying in class, ask them to summarise the main events, tell you about the characters/ themes/ settings
  • Ask them to recite quotations from their text- it’s important that they memorise quotations as they won’t have access to them in the final exam
  • Ask to see their notes jotters- ensure that they have been making their own notes about their texts
  • Allow them to research their texts online to find secondary criticism and other responses
  • Put the news on at night and discuss current affairs- this will help with generating ideas for folio writing
  • Encourage them to take a note of websites that they visit or books they read in preparation for their folio essays- it is crucial that they include a bibliography to avoid plagiarism
  • Ask to see their writing. Proof read it for them looking for any technical errors or typos. Ensure they have included a bibliography and word count in any discursive writing
  • Ask them to make a Study Timetable and make sure that they stick to it
  • Ask to see their work and the feedback that teachers give
  • Allow them to access study guides and revision guides online
  •  Encourage them to clear their room of any distractions while they are studying: phones, games consoles, TVs.
  • Encourage them to attend Supported Study in school
  • Encourage use of the SQA Website (especially the candidate guides)