FOI23/24 163 Components in Higher English

Date published: 05/04/2024

FOI reference: 23/24 163

Date received: 18/03/2024

Date responded: 05/04/2024

Information requested

I'm looking to understand what data the SQA has on number of entries to individual sections and questions of the Higher English exam. 

Could I ask:

Does the SQA collect data on how many exam entrants answered an individual question within the Higher English paper?
If yes, could i ask for the data covering all years available since 2017-18 showing how many and what proportion of entrants answered:
In Section 1 Part A

answered Text 1 (questions 1-4)
text 2 (questions 5-8)
or text 3 (questions 9-12).

In Section 1 Part B answered on

 text 1 (questions 13-16)
 text 2 (questions 17-20)
 text 3 (questions 21-24)
 text 4 (questions 25-28)
 text 5 (questions 29-32)

In Section 1 Part C

 text 1 (33-36)
 text 2 (37-40)
 text 3 (41-44)
 text 4 (45-48)
 text 5 (49-52)
 text 6 (53-56)

I am happy for this data to be presented in whatever way you have it - eg if you only collect the information by individual question, rather than grouped by text, that's fine. 
Second, I'd like to understand what data the SQA has on the various texts that exam entrants use for their critical essay. Could I ask:

If the SQA has any kind of data, coding or tagging which captures a list of the texts/plays/poems which entrants base their section 2 critical essays upon.
If yes, could I request this data, again for all years available since 2017-18. I'm happy with this data in any format useable on a usual PC (eg pdf, CSV, excel, word, are fine - not anything in R/SPSS or similar stats programme) but if possible, a csv or excel spreadsheet of all the various texts used to answer would be ideal. I am happy for this list not to be tagged against the question number, but again, it would be ideal if that's possible. 

Please let me know if that's possible - worth saying too that I'm happy to speak to any of your statistics colleagues to explain the research project this is for if that helps give context. 


Attached a spreadsheet which collates the information re the first question: the number of learners answering each question in the Scottish texts section of the Higher English paper (questions 1 to 56) from 2018 to date. The % proportion of the overall uptake for each question is also included. Please note that the information does not include any data from 2020 and 2021 – as we did not have an exam diet in these years and, as such, we didn’t collect any of this information at a national level.


For the second question – the critical essay question in Higher English – under section 17, when an authority does not hold information, it must inform the applicant. I can confirm that we do not have any data, coding or tagging that captures the texts upon which learners base their answers on.  However, our published Course Reports for Higher English indicate the popular texts which are used as reported by markers and our senior exam team, may be useful for you. The Course Reports also provide commentary on the uptake of the Scottish text section. The link to these is below.


Higher English - Course overview and resources - SQA


FOI23/24 163 Information Sheet (23 KB)