In a time out of mind the last question of the Higher English close reading paper used to be seriously intimidating. After 44 marks-worth of questions completed, you would then have to answer a 6 mark evaluation question. Given that evaluation was the hardest type of question to do, then this meant the hardest obstacle was left to the last, and, truth be told, for many it was an obstacle too far. The results of these questions were always quite poor.
All that has changed now. It’s not for us to say if it’s fairer, better or worse. We just outline now what you have to do. All we can say is that an element of challenge remains.
What it means is that the two passages in the Higher English close reading paper have to be compared in some way. Each passage is on the same subject, but the viewpoint of the subject is slightly different in each writer’s case. This is important with regard to the last question.
What you’re now asked to do is note the key points in each passage that agree and disagree with each other and summarise those agreements and disagreement, well as many as are needed to get the marks. There is still an evaluative element to the question as candidates have to be able to identify key points, however there is no longer an obligation to evaluate ideas or language as there was before.
The crucial aspects are that the key points identified must agree or disagree with similar key points in the other passage. After this, then you must be able to explain the agreement or disagreement. It’s a good idea to use bullet points to show each key agreement/disagreement and then summarise it. There’s an example here.
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