The average mark for Higher English critical essays was unchanged from 2009, but many markers commented on poor handwriting. Another problem was candidates who prepared only two texts and forced them to fit unsuitable questions.
The number of "genre infringements" was similar to previous years, although there were some "rather extreme confusions", such as answering questions on novels with references to plays, and vice versa. Comments on expression and technical accuracy were mostly positive, although inaccurate use of apostrophes and punctuation when using "however" and "therefore" was "all too frequent".
The mark for close reading was slightly lower than in 2009, due to a paper that markers perceived as more demanding.
At Advanced Higher, there was unmistakeable irritation in the observation that schools appeared not to have given candidates clear guidance for specialist study: "In too many centres, ill-advised textual choices andor unhelpfully vague topic statements were disadvantaging apparently able candidates".
For optional components, many submissions "suffered from the stultifying effects of imposed class exercises that appeared to have dampened rather than stimulated the latent creativity of individual candidates". Only eight candidates out of 1,839 chose language study.
There was widespread evidence of good teaching and thorough preparation, with particularly good work on Beckett, Chekhov, Pinter, Shakespeare (Antony and Cleopatra), Austen, Dickens and Joyce.
Overall, Advanced Higher performance was "generally secure", with improvements in relevance, textual understanding, analysis and attention to detail.
The overall level of Standard grade work had improved.