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Oh no, English is one of the most important subjects anyone will take at school. Not only does it get you into most Colleges and Universities but it is vital in using in life. Not the remembering quotes side of the course but the expression and analysis side. As I live in Scotland, I studied different courses and gained different qualifications compared to England and Wales . In Scotland you can get Standard Grades, Intermediates (1&2), Highers and Advanced Highers. I'm not very a customed to other education systems in the UK, but I do know that a SG is equivelent to a GCSE and a Higher to a A-Level. Last year I studied my Standard Grades, and now I am a Higher Student. A very scary thought. After getting a 1 in Standard Grade English (After an appeal!) I was fully prepared to get into the Higher course straight away!
Higher English is just one of the many courses you or your child could take at 5th or 6th year or at College if you are in Scotland. It is actually the most popular course as most universities require it for a Grade C or above. Universitys and employers look for this as it shows good reading, writing and communication (expression) skills which are nessicary for the outside world. Almost everyone in my year took Higher or Intermediate 2 English as it is a qualification that everyone needs. You study three units -
Each unit will have an end of unit test called a NAB. These then go on your certificate to show you have passed these units. However if you don't pass these you may not be able to sit the final exam. This is where this book comes in.
You or your child will have studied to course for a year and believe me it will have gone fast. It is less than two weeks before the exam, you haven't started revising and if like me they need a recap, then a revision guide is a god send. However there are quite a lot to choose from, so why pick this study guide?
I chose this one as first the title got to me "How To Pass" which sounded exactly what I was looking for. There is a huge range of books from the same company (Hodder Gibson) for different students which is very handy as if you like this book, you are more likely to use this company for other subjects. This is what happened to me anyway, and I bought all the books in the Higher range that I needed. The cover is of the world, which I suppose you could say it was one of the things covered in the course, but is approriate. There is a big tick and you are able to clearly see the subject and at what level. Make sure you buy the right level for you as the Standard Grade and Higher books are quite similar.
It has a really nice introduction from the author, who is a English teacher so knows exactly what is in the exam and what you need to know. Also the classic mistakes students make which is really good and how to write a brilliant essay for the exam. So it is made for students from teachers to help pass exams. Brilliant, exactly what I needed!
I needed something that could help me when I needed. I decided to have a good read and it seems to have a lot of information in a clear, nicely laid out form. Every so often there is a box, highlighted with a defination of a word, exam tip or a helpful comment. This was basically a teacher in writing which I thought was really handy as I needed as many tips as possible and something that wasn't my textbook to revise from. It it quite long, so you can't really read it all in one go, but '''it is great to read in little bursts for full effect, which is a huge advantage of this book.'''
The Higher English it is split into 2 papers. The first one is on your close reading skills. This means your given two passages (usually newspaper articles) with two points of view. You will have 100 marks to earn which are split roughly 50/50. The questions are then split into Analysis, Evaluation and Understanding. This is your key to understand what the question is asking. In the book, it has different sections for how to answer these questions, which is really handy. The thing is about these questions is that you may have got it right, but the wording and answering the question may be wrong. Very annoying I know but that is what you have to do. However in class you would have done about how to pass these questions but this book gives you the kick in the bum you need to really get you up to grade A level.
The other paper is the one I found the hardest, the writing. You are given a book of possible questions in which you have to answer 2. You have to pick from 4 sections which are Plays, Poetry, Media (Only for certain students) and Prose. There is also Non-Fiction however that is rarely done. The book explains to the student HOW to approach these questions in the best way possible. Essay writing was what I did struggle with as there really is a set way to do it. However like my teacher suggested, the book backs up the fact that it is all about structure. It showed you how to do the perfect introduction and had lots of hints and tips to how to develop your essay. My problem was expression, I did have problems getting what I wanted on paper. The book offered you tips on how to evaluate and analysise so the marker knows exactly what you are trying to say. I thought this was really handy and a great feature of the book. It was also able to reassure which was nice. It has some fantastic ideas and pointers to get your brain buzzing for writing the best essay you can on the book/poem/play of your choice.
I used this before I had my NAB's, prelim (a fall back exam incase anything happens in the final exam) and my final exam. I used it a lot before my final exam as unlike my textbook, it was a condensed down version and had everything I could need and that could come up in the exam. Also in the back it has practice questions which test your your essay writing skills and knowledge of the books/play you have been studing. It is really useful to try these to get an idea of what exam questions will be like as it uses real past paper examples.
I really do need to stress that this is not an alternative for not listening in class etc. When reading the book, it assumes that you know all the information (or most of it) already and it is really there to make sure that you do know everything, and any problems or confusions you have are corrected. So if you try and use this without doing the course or not really listening then you may find it a bit of a struggle to read.
What I liked about this book was how it never strayed off subject, and was really helpful in giving me ideas. However it did have some problems like any other book. What the book lacked was a better ideas. Some of the ideas they had were good but seemed to be a bit confusing. For example, I was looking for a CLEAR example of Evaluation in an essay. The book did have an example but it didn't show how and why that was the best way to do it. It did lack clarity and explanation which was frustrating. Also the print is all in black in white which is a bit of a drawback as it would have been more handy if there had been some colour. It isn't old fashioned but color can help learners more than black and white. Apart from these drawbacks this is still a very good book to use. What I noticed was that it isn't 100% there and the author actually did warn you that this is not a substitute to reading and studying. However I think that this point has to be made clearer, this is not a easy way out to help you pass the subject.
I got my 'How to Pass Higher English' from Border Books for £8.99 which is a lot to pay, but I do feel it is worth it. You can get it off Amazon a bit cheaper, which is handy and is what I will do when I get my Higher books. You will only be able to buy this from bookshops in Scotland, as it is a Scottish course but online is the way I would recommend to get it for the best price. Watch out as some sites add hefty postage and packaging prices. There are also lots of used ones on eBay so grab a bargain!
Overall if you are doing the course I would recommend using this book. It is a really helpful add on to the textbook and your own notes and was pleased overall with the quality of the book. It has some really handy tips that I was able to use for NAB's and in the prelims and final exams.
I don't know yet what my Exam results are for this subject. I need a C to get the course I want for University. So will find out on the 5TH OF AUGUST!
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