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Understanding analysis

English was the first Higher paper and staff and pupils at Caldervale High in North Lanarkshire were happy with it, says Derek Hotchkiss, principal teacher - particularly with close reading.

This took stories from The Times and the Scotsman. Pupils are encouraged to read quality papers, he says, and it was a good topic, on the place of public libraries in the electronic age. "It was good to see them giving recognition to the role of librarians."

Questions were divided between understanding and analysis, and there were only two asking candidates to analyse imagery. "That's good, because pupils have difficulty answering these," he says. "Most of the analysis questions asked candidates to comment on the writer's choice of words, such as 'cheap', 'chatter' and 'gimmicks'."

Candidates found it hard to complete the close reading, but there were four one-mark questions which could be done quickly.

The critical essay paper had some excellent prose and drama questions, though on poetry there was a question on the literal and metaphorical journey. "I'd like to know what interpretation of 'journey' would be accepted by markers. In our school we teach Liz Lochhead's Revelation, about a girl going to collect a chicken and eggs - our pupils interpreted that as a literal journey."

The film and TV drama questions were demanding.

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