Make sure you look at the BBC Bitesize section on writing:
Also look at:
N5 and Higher Writing Folio
Guidelines for students
Creation and Production
As part of your N5 and Higher course you will be given opportunities to write in different genres, for different purposes and for different audiences. The folio is worth 30% of your final grade: this means you have a seriously good opportunity to do well by putting time and effort into your folio.
For the final folio you will need to submit one essay from Group A and one from group B
Group A: broadly creative
a personal essay
a reflective essay
an imaginative piece
Group B: broadly discursive
an argumentative essay
a persuasive essay
a report for a specified purpose
The Portfolio should be produced in two stages:
1. a portfolio planning and development stage(which should be completed over a period of time)
This includes any planning notes, any planning tools such as mind maps, preliminary versions in jotters, copies of sources you may use in discursive writing, a first copy or draft essay with guidance. This planning stage will be kept by the school and will be used to evidence that the final submission is your own work.
2. a writing stage(which must be completed in time to be included in your prelim grade. It may be possible to write a further piece or redraft an essay between the prelim and the folio submission in April)
This is your final copy which is submitted to the SQA free of any additional comment. This piece of work will usually be word processed and because of the use of ICT the expectation is that it will be free from any frequent errors or regular misspellings.
The written texts must be no longer than 1,000 words at N5 level or 1,300 words at Higher. Full marks can be achieved in a shorter piece, if appropriate to purpose. Candidates will be instructed to record their word count (excluding footnotes and any references). Markers will be instructed to stop marking when the word count exceeds the maximum by 10%. Candidates who exceed the maximum by more than 10% will therefore self-penalise.
You should use a plain font (eg Ariel, Calibri, Times) usually in 12 point. You should probably use 12 point. Discursive writing, or other types of writing which use sources, should have them listed in a bibliography at the end. If unsure on how to do this check out:
Any direct quotations from source material used in discursive writing must be clearly acknowledged by the use of quotation marks. Specific details of sources must be given — eg dates and writers of newspaper articles, specific web pages, titles and dates of publication of books; it is not acceptable to say, for example, ‘various newspaper articles’ or ‘environmental websites’ or ‘the internet’. Unacknowledged use of others’ material such as copying and pasting from the internet or any other source, or re-wording or summarising information from another source without acknowledgement, is plagiarism and this carries severe penalties.
Each writing piece is assessed as a mark between 0 and 15. Your teachers are instructed by the SQA to use the detailed marking instructions and to follow the following guidelines:
(a) Marks for each candidate response must always be assigned in line with these General Marking Principles and the Detailed Marking Instructions for this assessment.
(b) Marking should always be positive. This means that, for each candidate response, marks are accumulated for the demonstration of relevant skills, knowledge and understanding: they are not deducted from a maximum on the basis of errors or omissions.
(c) The candidate’s writing will be marked in terms of content and style.
(d) Assessment should be holistic. There will be strengths and weaknesses in every piece of writing; assessment should focus as far as possible on the strengths, taking account of weaknesses only when they significantly detract from the overall performance. Marks should be awarded for the quality of the writing, and not deducted for errors or omissions. Writing does not have to be perfect to gain full marks.
Consistent technical accuracy is a requirement for a mark of 8 or above. Consistent technical accuracy means that few errors will be present: paragraphs, sentences and punctuation will be accurate and organised so that the writing can be clearly and readily understood; and spelling errors (particularly of high frequency words) should be infrequent.
Assistance: how much help can your teacher give you?
Your teachers are told that reasonable assistance may be provided prior to the formal assessment process taking place. The term ‘reasonable assistance’ is used to try to balance the need for support with the need to avoid giving too much assistance. If you require more than what is deemed to be ‘reasonable assistance’, you may not be ready for assessment or it may be that you have been entered for the wrong level of qualification.
Reasonable assistance may be given on a generic basis to a class or group of candidates, for example, advice on how to find information for a discursive essay. It may also be given to candidates on an individual basis.
It is acceptable for your teacher to provide:
an initial discussion with you on the selection of the topic leading to an outline plan
oral or written suggestions for improvements to a first draft
Once this preliminary work on the assessment has begun, you should be working independently.
There are no restrictions on the resources to which you may have access, for example, spellcheckers and dictionaries.
Teachers are told not to provide specific advice on how to re-phrase or improve responses, or provide model answers specific to the candidate’s task. It is not acceptable for your teacher to provide key ideas, to provide a structure or plan, to suggest specific wording or to correct errors in spelling and/or punctuation. This would go beyond reasonable assistance.
The final writing of both texts will be conducted under some supervision and control. This means that although you may complete part of the work out with the school; for example as homework, teachers should put in place processes for monitoring your progress to ensure that the work is your own, and that plagiarism has not taken place. In the final writing stage this need not entail formal, timed and supervised conditions, but at all stages of the preparation for and the production of the piece there should be careful monitoring to ensure that it is entirely the candidate’s work. You will be required to sign a folio flyleaf cover stating whether you have used sources, whether you have declared them properly and that the writing is your own.
The link below may be helpful to stimulate thinking and planning for discursive writing:
Mr Yule's classes are welcome to email writing folio work to:
‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand’ – William Blake
The above quotation can be interpreted in many ways and here’s one: if you understood everything about a grain of stand – molecular structure, atoms, fields, protons neutrons, quarks, Higgs-Boson – then you would understand the entire world, probably the universe. Because the laws that govern the universe can be found acting in that grain of sand.
It’s the same when you come to write a creative or personal piece for your Higher English folio. Better by far to concentrate on one aspect of a small incident then it is to try to have too many twists in a plot or have to many ideas that are not fully discussed. The Higher English folio has extremely limiting word limits. There’s no point trying to cram it with reflections or action: it always comes across as badly done. Choose something small and show your writing skills and your range of techniques focusing on that small incident.
One of the best personal reflective pieces I’ve read recently was about a swimming competition. It didn’t write about the competition much; it stopped before the race started. All it focused on was the few minutes before the race, the feelings and thoughts and one other character. Yet there was attention to detail, dialogue, description, use of techniques, reflection and an enjoyable story.
Short stories and short reflective pieces are meant to be detailed snapshots of life, like a photograph which, when thought about, demonstrate all the laws, emotions and behaviours of human life, the same as in a novel, but with a more intense focus on a detail to understand the larger whole. Just like William Blake’s grain of sand.
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