Intermediate 1

(Scroll down to the bottom of the page for GENERAL GUIDELINES.)

In marking your essays for the writing folio, your class teacher and then the SQA marker will follow the guidelines below.

Before allocating a mark to your essay the marker must check that it meets all of the Performance criteria and that it is “mainly accurate”.

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The Performance Criteria

Content

Content is mainly relevant and appropriate for purpose and audience; there is an attempt to develop a number of ideas/points of information.

Structure

There is a degree of organisation of content and a straightforward structure which is in the main appropriate for purpose, audience and genre.

Expression

Some use of basic techniques relevant to the genre, mainly accurate choice of words and some variety of sentence structures indicate an attempt to adopt an appropriate tone and convey a point of view.

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 Technical Accuracy

A piece of writing which is not considered to be at least ‘mainly accurate’ cannot pass. However, if it is judged to be  ‘mainly accurate’ you will not then lose marks for any mistakes in spelling, grammar etc you may have made.

The term ‘mainly accurate’ is taken to mean that although a few errors may be present, spelling, vocabulary and sentence structures will be sufficiently accurate to convey your meaning at first reading. In other words, if the marker has to re-read your work in order to understand it because there are so many spelling and sentencing mistakes, your essay will not pass. That is why it is important to check your work carefully.

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Categories and Marks

Your essay will then be assigned to a category. As Categories V and VI are fails, I have not outlined them below.

Category      I – 25 Outstanding

                     II – 21 or 23 Very sound

                   III – 17 or 19 Comfortably achieves all Performance Criteria

                    IV – 13 or 15 Just succeeds in achieving the Performance

 

Category I (25 marks)

This will be, for work at Intermediate 1 level, an impressive and wholly relevant piece of writing in which the content is well selected.  The structure is appropriate and content is sensibly organised.  Expression is confident.  Word choice is mostly appropriate and there is some variation in sentence structures.  Techniques associated with the genre are used competently.

Imaginative writing in this Category will be characterised by a sense that the writer has a basic knowledge and understanding of the genre and is attempting to exploit some of its conventions; the writing is consistently competent.

Personal/Reflective writing in this Category will be characterised by a clear sense of appropriate reflection; a sense of the writer’s personality is communicated; the writing is consistently competent.

Discursive writing in this Category will, as appropriate to the specific genre and purpose, be characterised by a secure understanding of the ideas/issues; the line of thought is clear with evidence of some development; the writing is consistently competent.

Category II (21 or 23 marks)

This will be, for work at Intermediate 1 level, a sound, relevant piece of writing in which the content is sensibly selected.  The structure is appropriate and content is clearly organised.  Expression is competent.  Word choice is mostly appropriate and there is some variation in sentence structures.  Techniques associated with the genre are used appropriately.

Imaginative writing in this Category will be characterised by a sense that the writer has a basic knowledge and understanding of the genre and is attempting to exploit some of its conventions; the writing is mostly competent.

Personal/Reflective writing in this Category will be characterised by a sense of appropriate reflection; a sense of the writer’s personality is communicated; the writing is mostly competent.

Discursive writing in this Category will, as appropriate to the specific genre and purpose, be characterised by a secure understanding of the ideas/issues; the line of thought is clear; the writing is, for the most part, acceptable.

 Category III (17 or 19 marks)

A relevant piece of writing in which the structure is appropriate and content is organised.  Expression is competent.  Word choice is mostly appropriate and sentence structures are mostly accurate.  Some techniques associated with the genre are used. 

Imaginative writing in this Category will be characterised by a sense that the writer has a basic knowledge of the genre and is following its principal conventions in a recognisable way; the writing is mainly competent.

Personal/Reflective writing in this Category will be characterised by some appropriate reflection; some sense of the writer’s personality is communicated; the writing is mainly competent.

Discursive writing in this Category will, as appropriate to the specific genre and purpose, be characterised by an understanding of the ideas/issues; the line of thought is mostly clear; the writing is mainly competent.

Category IV (13 or 15 marks)

A mostly relevant piece of writing with evidence of some appropriate structure.  Expression is mostly competent.  Word choice is reasonably appropriate and sentence structures are reasonably accurate.  At least one technique associated with the genre is used.

Imaginative writing in this Category will be characterised by a sense that the writer has a basic knowledge of the genre and is making some attempt to follow its more basic conventions; the writing is, for the most part, acceptable.

Personal/Reflective writing in this Category will be characterised by minimal reflection; little sense of the writer’s personality is communicated; the writing is, for the most part, acceptable.

Discursive writing in this Category will, as appropriate to the specific genre and purpose, be characterised by a basic understanding of the ideas/issues; a line of thought is discernible; the writing is, for the most part, acceptable.

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Some General Advice

Write a lot

Although your final folio submission will have only one piece, you should write a lot more than that during your Intermediate 1 English course. The more you write the more you can experiment with different types of writing and find out what you are really good at. You should be adventurous and be prepared to experiment with a number of different forms and ideas.

Length

If you’re an enthusiastic writer you might well find the upper word limit a bit restricting which is why the limit was raised from 600 to 800 after the 2011 exam; you might have to edit an early draft to bring it within the limit, but this is an important skill in itself; 800 words will be enough to let you demonstrate your abilities.

Drafting

Most good writing goes through at least one draft and you should use the freedom that comes with a folio to improve and polish your work.

You cannot expect your teacher or lecturer to read and comment on draft after draft.  He or she should see one draft and comment on that before you make your final submission.

Technical Accuracy

Your piece of writing has to be “mainly accurate” in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation before it can pass. This means there may be some errors but they must not prevent your writing from being easily understood on a first reading, so you must check your work carefully before submitting your final version. Remember that your teacher or lecturer is not there to proof-read for you, so you can’t expect errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation to be pointed out or corrected for you.

You are allowed to use a dictionary or spell-checker, but remember that a spell-checker does not do all the work for you, and it accepts any word in its memory, even if it’s not the word you want. If you type “fro” instead of “for” or “nay” instead of “any”, the spell-checker is quite happy.

Work from other subjects

If you produce a piece of extended writing as part of your work for another subject, it might be suitable as one of your folio pieces for English. However, you would have to be careful that it meant all the requirements for an English folio piece, eg length, genre, level of teacher/lecturer input, acknowledgement of sources, and authenticity. Also, work done in collaboration with another student can not be submitted in your folio.

Further advice

The Arrangements for Intermediate 1 English contain detailed Support Notes which you may find helpful.

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Some Specific Advice

Creative Writing

You should try to do more than just “tell a story” – there should be, for example, at least one interesting character, a good description of the setting, a satisfying ending.

Try to use some of the techniques you see in the stories you study in class, for example characterisation, creation of mood and atmosphere, specific narrative technique, effective sentence structures, etc.

Personal Writing

While all personal writing has to be based on true personal experience(s), simply giving a blow by blow account of what happened is never going to produce an effective piece of writing. Choose an incident which will allow some genuine reflection. Aim to convince the reader that the incident really means something to you, that you have learned something from it. It’s your attempt to explore your thoughts, feelings and reactions that matter in this type of writing.

Try to use some of the techniques you see in the texts you study, for example creation of mood and atmosphere, effective word choice and sentence structures, etc.

Discursive Writing

Choose your topic carefully. It needs to be something which will allow you to construct a clear and sensible argument. The more you are genuinely interested in and engaged with the topic the better and more interesting your writing will be.

Some research and background reading is advisable but don’t overdo it, because simply presenting a series of “facts” does not make for an effective piece of discursive writing. It’s your ideas the marker wants to read, not others people’s. Remember to keep a careful record of the sources you consult.

Try to use some of the techniques which you see (and answer questions on) in Close Reading passages, for example link sentences, clear paragraphing, good word choice and sentence structures, etc.

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