Exemplars / Commentaries for National 4: Literacy

This section has been designed to help practitioners and learners understand the expected standards for the Reading and Writing Outcomes in the National Literacy Unit.

The general aim of the National Literacy Unit is to develop learners’ reading, listening, writing and talking skills in a variety of forms relevant for learning, life and work. Learners will develop the ability to understand straightforward ideas and information presented orally and in writing. Learners will also develop the ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing with technical accuracy.


Assessment Standard

Outcome 1: Read and understand straightforward word-based texts by:

1.1 Selecting and using relevant information

1.2 Explaining aspects including audience and purpose

1.3 Commenting on effectiveness

Example of reading task

Learner response

Learner Response

Below you can see questions based on the reading passage and the learners' answers to the questions. You should consider these responses before attempting the task.

Forget cabbage, what children REALLY hate is an avocado

1. Why has this article been written?

Give two reasons for your answer.

It was written to give people information about the foods that children like and don’t like. There is a table that shows you their top ten likes and dislikes.

The writer tells you quite a lot about how much they like things like chocolate and biscuits and how much they hate vegetables like avocados. He’s also trying to give advice why fruit and veg is healthy – the vitamins in it.

2. Look at the main picture (three people). Explain how the picture helps you to understand the article.

It looks like a mum and dad and a boy. The boy is eating an apple but he is not enjoying it. The parents are looking worried. The article is about parents trying to get children to eat healthy food so that’s why they have this picture.

3. Name two foods that children like and two foods that they don’t like.

They like crisps and chocolate but they don’t like avocados or leeks.

4. State two benefits of eating avocados.

It helps against heart disease.

It helps women have healthy babies.

5. Describe one thing that parents could do to help children eat more healthily.

They can sit down and eat with their children so they can see parents eat healthy things.

6. What is the writer’s point of view about children’s food preferences? Give a reason for your answer.

The writer thinks it’s a shame that children don’t eat more fruit and vegetables because they are healthy things to eat. He says things like “the fact that most of the dislikes are vegetables and most of the likes are junk food is depressing”.

This shows that he thinks children should be eating more vegetables.

7. Would parents find this article interesting? Give a reason for your answer.

Yes, I think parents would find it interesting as most of them worry about what their children eat. They would look at the table of foods and compare it with what their own children eat.

They might try to eat with them more and offer them more fruit and veg because its good advice.

Task for practitioner

Before you complete the exercise below, you should read the passage, read the learner's responses and then attempt the task.

Exercise - What is healthy eating?

  1. Did the learner correctly identify the purpose and give two reasons? What else could they have written?
  2. Did the learner grasp the main points or ideas? Comment on the quality of answers.
  3. Did the learner accurately identify the point of view and give evidence to back up their answer? What else would have been acceptable?
  4. Did the learner make a basic evaluation and support it with evidence? What else would have been acceptable?

For each question explain and make a note of your reasons.

Would the learner pass?

The text, Forget cabbage, what children really hate is an avocado, is appropriate for the task: it is functional / transactional and has a relevance to the learner. It provides the learner with the opportunities to achieve the Assessment Standards at this level.

The questions have been matched with the Assessment Standards (below) and it should be noted that the learner need only meet the standard once to satisfy the requirements at this level.

The combined responses to Q2 and Q7 show that the learner has commented on the effectiveness of the text.

Q1 1.2

Q2 1.3

Q3 1.1

Q4 1.1

Q5 1.1

Q6 1.2

Q7 1.3

All of the Assessment Standards have been met within the learner’s answers.


Assessment Standard

Outcome 3: Write straightforward technically accurate texts by:

3.1 Selecting and using appropriate language

3.2 Organising writing appropriately

3.3 Using appropriate spelling, grammar and punctuation

Example of writing task

Write a review of a book you have read recently. It should be at least 300 words long.

Learner response

Below is a learner's response to the exercise. You should read and consider this before attempting the practitioner task

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

I have just finished this book and I would say it is one of the weirdest but best books I have ever read.

It’s about a boy who has something called Asperger’s syndrome. It means he has a very strange way of seeing the world and he notices different things from other people. The book is written thru his eyes and all the time you get to know what he is thinking. The main story is that he is trying to find out who killed his neighbours dog. He likes solving mysteries and his hero is Sherlock Holmes so he is trying to solve it like a detective.

The first strange thing I noticed about the book was the way the chapters were numbered. It started with chapter 2 and I thought some of the book had been ripped out. Then I saw that the other numbers weren’t in order. Christopher, the person in the book, likes maths and tells you that he has used prime numbers for the chapters. He also uses pictures to explain long maths problems. These were far too long for me – I could have done without that bit.

Christopher had trouble reading people’s faces because he couldn’t understand their expressions. He drew little happy and sad faces (like the smileys from e-mail) and that helped him understand. I thought that was really clever.

Like Christopher, I wanted to know who killed the dog. I was shocked like him to find out it was his Dad. I felt really sorry for Christopher because he became frightened of his Dad and also because his Mum had run away. It was even worse than that because his Dad had told him she was dead. But I ended up feeling sorry for everyone because Christopher must have been really hard to live with, he had so many strange habits like refusing to eat anything yellow or brown. The writer of the book did a really good job because he made Christopher seem like a real person. I would understand people like him a bit better now if I met them.

I wouldn’t like to read to many books with Christopher in them as he would get a bit annoying after a while but I am really glad I read this one. You should read it too. I think Mark Haddon is a great writer.

Task for practitioner

Before you complete the exercise below, you should read the learner's response and then attempt the task.

Only when you have looked at all of this and considered the assessment standards for Outcome 2 should you complete the exercise below.

Exercise - book review?

  1. Is the learner’s writing suitable for the purpose and audience?
  2. Does it contain all essential information and some supporting detail?
  3. Is there evidence of a clear structure?
  4. Are spelling, grammar and punctuation mainly accurate and is the meaning clear at first reading?

For each question explain and make a note of your reasons.

Would the learner pass?

The task to write a review of a book you have read recently is a suitable one to enable learners to achieve the Assessment Standards necessary for Literacy at National 4.

The exemplar learner response does meet Assessment Standard 3.1 for National 4 Literacy as the language employed does communicate meaning at a first reading and it is more than 300 words in length. The learner uses a style that is appropriate to the genre of a book review.

The writing is organised in a way that conforms to an evaluation of the text. It begins with a general synopsis and then identifies areas that are important to the learner’s appreciation of the novel. There is a sense of genuine enjoyment and an engagement with the text. The learner does achieve the requirements for Assessment Standard 3.2 at this level.

The spelling, grammar and punctuation are, generally, appropriate for the level. There are occasional slips in language and syntax, however these do not impede understanding. The learner has used a range of vocabulary to express reactions to the text. The piece of writing does meet the requirements for Assessment Standard 3.3.