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National 5 English

National 5 English

This Course is valid from August 2013.

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.

English homepage

Qualification content and delivery tools

The documents on this page are for teachers and lecturers.

Learners studying this qualification may also find the documents useful.

The 'Related information' panel on this page contains information that applies to all new National Qualifications in this subject.

Updates and announcements

Update letters

Printed copies of this special Curriculum for Excellence update letter will also be provided to centres.

Guidance on the use of past paper questions

We have produced a support document to help teachers and lecturers identify suitable past paper questions/items that could be used, or amended, to support learners in their preparation for sitting question papers as part of the National 5 Course assessment.

The advice reflects questions selected from 2011 to 2013 past papers.

The document is available under the Specimen question paper heading.

Additional Guidance: National 5 English

Additional guidance has been produced by SQA to exemplify the marking of candidate work in the Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation question paper and the portfolio of writing for National 5 English.

The text and questions which feature in the Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation section of the guidance document were prepared by the National 5 and Intermediate Examiners. The work of seven candidates has been marked and explanations of how marks have been awarded have been provided.

The Reflective writing, Discursive writing and Creative writing sections of the document feature essays from Intermediate 2 candidates from diet 2013 and have been marked, with commentaries, using the new National 5 marking instructions.

A short video clip has been prepared by the National 5 Principal Assessor to accompany this guidance document.

The additional guidance document and accompanying clip can be found on SQA’s secure website.

English: Critical Reading Specimen Question paper

The English: Critical Reading Specimen Question paper National 5 has been updated to include text-based questions for all writers on the specified Scottish text list.

The section order has been reversed (ie Section 1 is now on Scottish Texts and Section 2 is a Critical Essay) to allow candidates to focus on their chosen Scottish text first. They must then use a different genre for their Critical Essay in Section 2. Instructions to candidates have also been updated.

Bridging pack

A bridging Unit assessment support pack for Literacy (National 5) Unit/English is now available, which shows how literacy skills can be evidenced within the National 5 English Course, and used to gain certification of the freestanding Unit in Literacy.

Literacy support

We have created a short animation to provide an overview of the support that can be provided in the National Literacy Units. We have also provided a guide to supportive practices for the National Literacy Units. See Related Information panel.

Mandatory information

Course Specification

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.


Course Assessment Specification

The Course Assessment Specification explains the structure of the Course assessment; including the type and method of assessment. It also includes information on Course coverage.


Unit Specifications

These provide an outline of what each Unit will cover within the Course and detail the Outcomes and Assessment Standards.


Unit Specification for National 5 Literacy.

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.

Assessment support

Specimen Question Paper and Marking Instructions

These illustrate the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers learners will sit. These also include marking instructions.

National Parent Forum Scotland have also produced their Revision in a Nutshell series to help learners to prepare for new National 5 examinations.

Coursework information

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.

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.



Some generic common key messages have been identified following the reviews of event verification activity for Rounds 1 and 2. They are available here -