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Proof is in the reading

This was a year in which markers of other subjects bemoaned the quality of written work on display.

Yet Standard grade English bucked that trend: markers "commented favourably" on the overall standard of written English.

In folio writing, candidates did well with discursive tasks on topical issues such as Asbos, obesity and size zero (pictured). More able candidates could recast source material, rather than being reliant on the internet. But they struggled with word limits and generalised instructions (such as "write a short story"), while proofreading of word-processed pieces was frequently inaccurate.

In folio reading, the responses to difficult texts was impressive, but teachers appeared culpable of "over-directing" with the result that work lacked "personal responses".

Candidates coped well with the external test of writing, but many used an inappropriately conversational style and succumbed to the "pitfalls" of reproducing pre-prepared work.

The number of Standard grade candidates rose from 58,832 last year to 59,722, and there was an increase in Intermediate 1 (5,785 to 6,808) and Intermediate 2 (17,855 to 19,103).

A close reading passage that contained some Scots words did not hamper understanding.

Intermediate 2 candidates were presented "at the appropriate level" and there was a "significant number" of high marks.

Confusion about the meaning of "ironic" and "trivial" in a close reading passage was widespread, while teachers were advised that critical essays about novels should steer clear of the "micro-analysis" used in essays on poems.

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