National 5 ESOL

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.

2022 revision support for learners (Mar 2022)

We have updated this document to provide information on the modifications made to course assessments (coursework and exams) at the start of academic year 2021-22.

Past Papers and Marking Instructions


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 (Mar 2022)

Additional resources session 2021-22

New - new materials not previously published

Updated - published in 2020/21 but amended for 2021/22

Carried forward - published in 2020/21 carried forward to 2021/22

  • New - Webinar recording with candidate evidence and commentaries for National 5 and Higher Performance can be found on SQA's secure website, you can access these via your SQA co-ordinator.
  • New - Webinar candidate evidence and commentaries
  • Carried forward - National 5 webinar 13 February 2021 (published on the SQA secure site. This can be accessed through your SQA coordinator). Before viewing the recording, you will need the marking instructions for writing and performance speaking and listening. You will also need the writing scripts and commentaries for candidate 1 (Everyday life), candidate 2 (Study) and candidate 3 (Study) from the link below. It will also be useful if you have the speaking and listening commentaries (pdf files) for candidates A&B and C&D from the secure site.
  • Carried forward - Candidate evidence and commentaries: Speaking and listening (publishe on the SQA secure site. These can be accessed through your SQA coordinator)
  • Carried forward - Candidate evidence and commentaries: writing

New - Webinar recording - Question Paper - Writing - Jan 2022

Carried forward - Assessing ESOL online Webinar recording

Please note: For session 2021-22 there are modifications to this course. Understanding Standards materials should therefore be viewed along with the National Course modification summary available in the Course information 2021-22 section.

Examples of candidate evidence with commentaries

Further examples of candidate evidence and commentaries can be found on SQA¿s secure website and you can access these through your SQA co-ordinator.

Course assessment overview

Changes to understanding standards materials

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

Course reports

These reports provide information on the performance of candidates which it is hoped will be useful to teachers, lecturers and assessors in their preparation of candidates for future assessment.

Course Reports

2021 Key Messages

The Alternative Certification Model included a national quality assurance activity, carried out in May 2021.

This report provides information on any common themes and key points from the evidence submitted.

Verification Reports

There was no verification activity at this level in 2017.

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


Additional CPD support

Where any particular areas of concern are identified, which are not addressed by our Understanding Standards events or support materials, we will offer free continuing professional development (CPD) training, subject to request. CPD support is subject-specific and can be tailored to cover one or more qualification level. To find out more about this service visit our CPD page.

Support materials

National 5 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 are required to have Flash version 12 or above installed to run these assessments).

Online resources ¿ practice assessments

SQA Academy

Learning support materials and online learning resources


Evidence for external verification of internally-assessed components of course assessments (466 KB)

ESOL: Quality Assurance - external verification


Ushare open learning resources