National 5 English
The National 5 English Course enables learners to develop their literacy skills and to understand, analyse and evaluate a range of texts (including Scottish texts) in the contexts of literature, language and media. The Course also enables learners to create and produce texts and to apply their knowledge and understanding of language.
Updates and announcements
- October 2016 subject update (228 KB)
- May 2016 subject update (189 KB)
- October 2015 subject update (200 KB)
- August 2015 subject update (National 3 - Higher) (93 KB)
- May 2015 subject update (159 KB)
- January 2015 subject update (Advanced Higher) (239 KB)
- September 2014 subject update (330 KB)
- Special Edition Update June 2014 (152 KB)
- September 2013 update letter (177 KB)
Refreshed Scottish text list for session 2018-19 onwards
In 2016, we carried out a consultation with teachers and other key stakeholders on the refresh of the Scottish set text list for National 5 and Higher English. Based on the findings of this consultation, we have now published a refreshed set text list for implementation in session 2018-19. This is a minor refresh, which provides opportunities for new texts to be studied, while also ensuring a minimal impact on resources.
The refreshed Scottish set text list is available from the ‘Scottish texts in English courses’ tab at the bottom of this page, where it is accompanied by a report on the findings of the consultation. The refreshed list will be made live from session 2018-19 and the first National 5 and Higher English exams to feature content from the new list will take place in May 2019.
Changes to assessment in the National 5 course from session 2017-18
Following the Deputy First Minister’s announcement that units and unit assessments will be removed from National 5 to Advanced Higher courses, we are strengthening the course assessment to ensure it covers the full content of the course.
The following summary provides a quick look at what is needed to strengthen the course assessment in your National 5 course. These changes will take effect from session 2017-18 onwards. More detailed information will be provided in the revised Course Specifications, which will be available by the end of April 2017.
Changes to coursework:
We will introduce a new mandatory ‘Spoken Language (combined speaking and listening)’ component which will be internally assessed as ‘achieved’ or ‘not achieved’. This new component will be based on existing standards. It will not contribute to the overall weightings (%) of the course assessment but candidates will need to achieve the minimum requirements of this component to gain the course award.
Historic delivery experience in Scotland, and guidance from awarding bodies across the UK, indicates that the most successful way to assess these skills is on an ‘achieved’ or ‘not achieved’ basis.
There will be no change to the existing writing portfolio and it will continue to be worth 30 marks and contribute to 30% of the course assessment.
There will be no change to the existing exams.
Question paper one will continue to be worth 30 marks and contribute to 30% of the course assessment and question paper two will be worth 40 marks and contribute to 40%.
Reasons for this change:
The new internally assessed spoken language component will ensure that all four literacy skills continue to be assessed within the National 5 English Course, following the removal of units.
This explains the overall structure of the Course, including its purpose and aims and information on the skills, knowledge and understanding that will be developed.
- N5 English Course Specification
Course Assessment Specification
This explains the structure of the Course assessment; including the type and method of assessment. It also includes information on Course coverage.
- N5 English Course Assessment Specification
These provide an outline of what each Unit will cover within the Course and detail the Outcomes and Assessment Standards.
- English Analysis and Evaluation (National 5) Unit Specification
- English Creation and Production (National 5) Unit Specification
Advice and guidance
Course and Unit Support Notes
These provide advice and guidance for teachers/lecturers on learning, teaching and assessment within the Course and its Units.
The following document contains the Course Support Notes and the Unit Support Notes for this Course. They can be printed together or separately.
Past Papers and Marking Instructions
Specimen Question Papers and Marking Instructions
These illustrate the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers learners will sit. These also include marking instructions.
- English: Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation Specimen Question Paper National 5
- English: Critical Reading Specimen Question Paper National 5
Part 1 of the English: Critical Reading specimen question paper includes sample questions for all texts on the set Scottish text list.
Previously, we published some sample questions using texts that are not currently on the set list. We have used these sample questions to create an additional resource that helps further illustrate the approach and structure of extract-based questions:
- English: Additional Exemplar Questions for Scottish Texts (National 5)
- Guidance on the use of past paper questions for National 5 English
National Parent Forum Scotland have also produced their Revision in a Nutshell series to help learners to prepare for National 5 examinations.
General assessment information provides instructions for the conduct of coursework, an overview of the assessment task, evidence to be gathered and general marking instructions.
Coursework assessment tasks provide the live assessment task, including marking instructions and instructions for candidates. Teachers/lecturers can access these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.
Information on the production and submission of SQA-assessed coursework for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.
National 5 Portfolio Templates
Unit Assessment Support
These documents contain details of Unit assessment task(s), show approaches to gathering evidence and how the evidence can be judged against the Outcomes and Assessment Standards. Teachers/lecturers can arrange access to these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.
Understanding Standards materials
We are publishing examples of candidate evidence with commentaries as part of our Understanding Standards programme. These materials are for teachers and lecturers to help them develop their understanding of the standards required for assessment. As these materials become available, they are being published in the following locations:
- Available from our secure website Materials relating to Unit assessment, internally assessed components of Course assessment, and externally assessed components of Course assessment which are subject to visiting assessment. Teachers and lecturers can arrange access to these materials through their SQA Co-ordinator.
- Available from our Understanding Standards website Materials relating to externally assessed components of Course assessment, with the exception of those subject to visiting assessment.
More information on our Understanding Standards programme, can be found on our Understanding Standards page.
Verification and Course Reports
- English Verification Key Message
- 2014 National 5 English Course Report
- 2015 National 5 English Course Report
- English Verification Key Message
- 2016 National 5 English Course Report
- English Verification Key Messages
Scottish Texts in English Courses
Please find below the current Scottish text list for National 5 and Higher English.
- Scottish text list (live version)
Refreshed Scottish set text list for 2018-19 onwards
In 2016, we carried out a consultation with teachers and other key stakeholders on the refresh of the Scottish set text list for National 5 and Higher English. Based on the findings of this consultation, we have refreshed the Scottish set text list for use from session 2018-19 onwards. This is accompanied by a report which details the findings of our consultation.