Higher ESOL

Course Specification

Explains the structure of the course, including its purpose and aims and information on the skills, knowledge and understanding that will be developed.


          November 2019

Past Papers and Marking Instructions

Access all past papers by subject/level

Additional question papers resources

Illustrates the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers candidates will sit (includes marking instructions).


There were no exams in 2021. The 2020-21 question paper resources are, for most subjects, modified papers which reflect the modifications put in place for session 2020-21

Higher ESOL question paper - listening (212 KB)
Higher ESOL question paper - reading (334 KB)
Higher ESOL question paper - writing (260 KB)

Higher ESOL listening transcript (270 KB)
Higher 25% listening audio (25.78 MB)Higher ESOL listening audio (22.87 MB)

Higher ESOL listening marking instructions (131 KB)
Higher ESOL reading marking instructions (136 KB)
Higher ESOL writing marking instructions (125 KB)


This section provides information on marking instructions and/or the coursework assessment task(s). It includes information that centres need to administer coursework and must be read in conjunction with the course specification.


For information on marks scaling please see related information.

Information on the production and submission of SQA-assessed coursework for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.

Understanding Standards (07/02/2024)

Examples of candidate evidence with commentaries

Further Understanding Standards materials for this subject can be found on SQA’s secure website and you can access these through your SQA co-ordinator.

Webinar (recordings)

Question Paper (writing) course assessment from session 2023-2024

Course assessment from session 2022-2023

Question Paper (writing) - January 2022

Assessing ESOL online

Course Assessment from session 2018-2019

Audio Presentation

Changes to Understanding Standards materials

Please note: Understanding Standards materials are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain up to date.

Additional Resources session 2020-22

Further information can be found on the Understanding Standards Website.

Course reports (19/09/2023)

Provides information on the performance of candidates - which is useful to teachers, lecturers and assessors in their preparation of candidates for future assessment.

Course Reports

Verification Reports

In 2019, a single qualification verification summary report replaced the verification key messages.

Support materials

Higher Learning Support Material

Online resources - practice assessments

These materials are intended to support ESOL candidates in improving their skills in reading, listening, speaking and writing. (You need Flash version 12 or above to run these assessments).

SQA Academy

Learning support materials and online learning resources


Evidence for external verification of internally-assessed components of course assessments

ESOL: Quality Assurance - external verification

Ushare open learning resources