National 5

FYI: Outline of the National 5 English Exam

There are two papers on the day of the exam. This is worth 70% of a student’s overall grade.

Paper 1:

RUAE (Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation – or ‘Close Reading’) – 1 hour

What will this consist of? Reading a passage and answering the questions which follow.

This is worth 30 marks and is 30% of a student’s overall grade.

Paper 2:

Critical Reading – this comes in 2 parts: A) the Scottish Text section and B) the Critical Essay section-  1 hour and 30 minutes.

What will this consist of? Using knowledge of a Scottish text or texts studied in class to answer questions, and writing a Critical Essay on one other work of Literature studied in class.


In the Scottish text section, pupils will pick the text relevant to them – the one their class has studied; for instance, a poem by Norman MacCaig. They will then proceed to answer the questions on the text featured and for the last question (the ‘8 marker’) answer using their knowledge of the featured text, as well as their knowledge of other works/extracts within the text studied.


In the Critical Essay section of the paper, pupils will choose one question from the question options under the genre they have studied.   For instance, if they have studied ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck, they will go to the PROSE genre and select the question on which they feel they will be able to write the best response.

This is worth 40 marks and is 40% of a student’s overall grade.

Where does the other 30% come from?

Pupils will be asked to plan and write two folio pieces – one of a creative nature and another of a more topical, functional nature. Each piece should be no more than 1000 words.

Each piece counts for 15 %, making a total of 30% of a pupils overall grade.

Pupils will be asked to submit a first and second draft of each piece, having discussed their plans/proposals with their class teacher.

Drafts should be added to the SQA template which can be found under ‘Coursework’ at


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