Course Material

I will be making all of my resources and materials available for free here – if you think anything will be of use to you please help yourself.

Critical Essays

‘War Photographer’  (N5 / Higher – Poetry)

‘Spiritual Damage’  (N5 / Higher – Prose Non-Fiction)

‘The Early Purges’  (N5 – Poetry)

‘Glasgow Sonnets 1’  (N5 – Poetry)

‘A Last Marriage’  (Higher – Poetry)

‘Refugee Mother and Child’  (Higher – Poetry)

‘A Letter That Never Reached Russia’  (Higher – Prose)

N5 Critical Essays

Scottish Set Text

‘Bold Girls’  (N5)

Close Reading

N5 Close Reading


You can also download the SQA Specimen Paper for National 5 English by click the following links:
Critical Reading (Scottish Set Text and Critical Essay)
Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation (Close Reading)

  1. louise g says:

    I am going to try and self study higher English. I know you have to do two pieces for portfolio and 40% of overall grade is from close reading so easy enough.. But this critical essay worth 40% I have no idea what you do… Do you just read like the Great Gatsby and answer questions on it or critical essay..

  2. Mr F Boyle says:

    *site* – hangs head in shame!

  3. Mr F Boyle says:

    Hi Mr McEnaney. I am a fellow teacher and really like your resources, twitter and have signed up for the new moderation sight. Found this on SQA website and think it relates to something you were discussing on twitter.

    “A small number of centres had incorrectly submitted critical essays as evidence
    of reading. Centres are reminded that assessment of reading should be based on
    previously unseen texts.” This applies at N4 and N5 for the Reading outcome of the A&E Unit. Hope this helps!

    • Mr. McEnaney says:

      Hi Frank,
      Thank you very much.

      Regarding the critical essay thing, I spoke to a verifier a couple of weeks ago who told me in no uncertain terms that a critical essay can’t be used for the A&E assessment, but that it is perfectly acceptable for the C&P writing assessment.

      Do you have a link to the page where you found that information (just in case it has other material that might helpful)?

      • Mr F Boyle says:

        Hi there,

        If you go to and click on ‘Verification’ at the bottom of the page, then ‘Key Messages from Round 1’. Also the ‘English Common Questions’ link at is also really useful. Hope the information helps.

        • Mr. McEnaney says:

          Cheers for that.

          I’ve just read through the FAQ stuff and found the following gem which really does sum up the SQA approach to this whole process:

          Q: What form of response to the final question in the critical reading question paper would be likely to advantage candidates?
          A: A good answer will advantage candidates and they can provide this in any way that they choose.

          Or, in relation to the complete lack of exemplification:

          Q: When will candidate exemplars be available?
          A: Exemplification will follow on from the verification process. There will be no exemplar material before this stage. One of the main reasons for this is because synthesising work would lack credibility.

          You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  4. Stefan Geldon says:

    Thanks we are studying war photographer

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