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Higher Critical Essay. Marking Criteria. You need to do all of the following in order to pass the Critical essay. If you fail to achieve one or more of the 4 areas then you cannot earn more than 11/25. Marking criteria.

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Higher Critical Essay

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Higher Critical Essay


Marking Criteria

  • You need to do all of the following in order to pass the Critical essay. If you fail to achieve one or more of the 4 areas then you cannot earn more than 11/25.


Marking criteria

  • Understanding – show secure understanding of key elements, central concerns and significant details of your text, as appropriate to the task set in your question.

  • What does it mean? You must answer the question and clearly show that you understand the themes and important events within your text.


  • Analysis - you must explain accurately, and in detail, ways in which relevant aspects of structure/style/language contribute to the meaning/effect/impact of your texts.

  • What does it mean? – Can you show that you understand the techniques the writer has used and the way he/she has used them to create particular effects or to convey their theme.


  • Evaluation – You must show clear engagement with the text or aspects of the text and state or imply an evaluation of its effectiveness, supported by detailed and relevant evidence from the text.

  • What does it mean? You need to show a personal response to the text – in relation to the question set and not whether you enjoyed the book or not – and evaluate how effective the writer has been in conveying their main ideas. You must use quotations.


  • Expression – The structure of your essay and its style and language must communicate your meaning clearly and develop a line of thought that remains consistently relevant to the purpose. This includes the use of appropriate critical terminology. Your spelling, grammar and punctuation must be sufficiently accurate.

  • What does it mean? – You must structure your essay so that it makes sense, you must answer the question, you must use a technical vocabulary and you must be technically accurate.


Exemplar essays

  • We are now going to look at a variety of exemplar essays so that you can begin to see the standard that the SQA is looking for.

  • You will use the marking criteria that I have previously provided to evaluate each essay.

  • You should read the essay first and then discuss the marking in pairs.


Script 1 ‘The Crucible’

  • Question

    Choose from a play a scene in which an important truth is revealed.

    Briefly explain what the important truth is and assess the significance of its revelation to your understanding of theme or character.


  • Read section ‘A’ of the essay. With your partner jot down first impressions:

    Promising features

    Any worrying features

  • Now read the remainder of the essay. With your partner make notes on strengths and areas for development.

  • Assign the essay to a category and then a mark


SQA - Marks

  • Gives background information that adds to the answering of the question

  • Good quality

  • Clear links to the question

  • Analysis and evaluation present

  • Could have had more on the actual scene – the revealing of the important truth.

  • Category 2 – 21/25


Script 3 – ‘A Study of Reading Habits

  • Question

    Choose a poem in which the speaker’s personality is gradually revealed.

    Show how, through the content and language of the poem, aspects of the character gradually emerge.


  • Read the essay.

  • With your partner make notes on strengths and areas for development.

  • Assign the essay to a category and then a mark


SQA - Marks

  • Impressive

  • Very detailed analysis

  • Always focused on character and personality

  • Well structured

  • The humour in the poem has been missed out.

  • Lack of discussion of poetic techniques

  • Category 2 – 23/25


Script 4 – ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

  • Question

    Choose a novel or short story which is set in a period of social or political change.

    Discuss how important the writer’s evocation of the period is to your appreciation of the text as a whole.


  • Read the essay.

  • With your partner make notes on strengths and areas for development.

  • Assign the essay to a category and then a mark


SQA - Marks

  • Good introduction – covers ideas in the question, outlines (implicitly) what they are going to do.

  • Deals with the theme of control well.

  • Sympathy of the character is dealt with well.

  • Section of the message is not so strong – moves away from the text a bit.

  • It is repetitive at times and is quite bitty.

  • Category 3 – 19/25


Script 5 – ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

  • Question

    Choose from a play a scene in which an important truth is revealed.

    Briefly explain what the important truth is and assess the significance of its revelation to your understanding of theme or character.


  • Read the essay.

  • With your partner make notes on strengths and areas for development.

  • Assign the essay to a category and then a mark


SQA - Marks

  • Choice of truth revealed is okay

  • Takes too long to get to the main point of the essay

  • “White suit” – analysis for the sake of it, is nothing to do with the question

  • Impact of truth on Blanche was good

  • Music analysis not great

  • We want pupils to be focused but this ignores so much of the rest of the play.

  • Nothing really wrong with it – debate about category (3 or 4)

  • Category 3 – 17/25


Script 6 – ‘Brave New World’

  • Question

    Choose a novel in which a confrontation between two characters is of central importance in the text.

    Explain the circumstances of the confrontation and discuss its importance to your understanding of the novel as a whole.


  • Read the essay.

  • With your partner make notes on strengths and areas for development.

  • Assign the essay to a category and then a mark


SQA - Marks

  • Good on society, weaker on confrontation

  • Very strong on expressing ideas and analysis

  • Very perceptive

  • Sound – very fluent

  • Category 2 – 21/25


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