Less than impressive

30th November 2007 at 00:00
Alternatives to handwritten essays may have to be found because Higher English markers cannot decipher candidates' submissions.

Markers are "increasingly concerned" about handwriting that is difficult to read, particulary where assessing critical essays, which can run to five or six pages. The report recommends that schools explore "appropriate alternative arrangements for candidates whose handwriting is weak".

Overall performance was similar to that in 2006, with improvements maintained in close reading and the critical essay.

Markers continue to report candidates who appear to have prepared only two texts for the critical essay. They are using "implausible" lines of argument to force a text into a question. There was an increased number of "genre infringements", especially where a short story was used for a question on a novel.

Some texts were of "insufficient depth and complexity" for Higher, and the short story was mistakenly seen as a "soft" option.

The showing at Advanced Higher was less impressive than in 2006.

Work submitted for the creative writing portfolio ranged from "breathtakingly excellent" to "depressingly inept".

Performance in specialist study was weaker than in 2006. Markers reported a general impression of "encouraging and widespread potential that all too often was unrealised". Candidates were handicapped by inappropriate choices or groupings of texts, and topics that were undefined or too loosely defined.

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