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O folio, folio? Wherefore art thou folio?

Finding focus post-prelims

February is a busy month in the tutoring world. The majority of Higher students have recently received their prelim (that’s mocks for anyone reading south of the border) results back, so they’re now aware which subjects – or specific areas within those subjects – they need to focus on over the coming months in the run-up to the exams.

It’s also a time of ‘English folio frenzy’, when many Nat. 5 and Higher English candidates will be busy finalising (presuming they’ve already been written!) the two essays which, together, make up 30% of their final exam result, ready for the school to submit them to the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) in March.

To a certain extent, you have a choice as to which type of essays you submit. The word counts can vary (e.g. up to 1,000 words per essay for Nat. 5 and up to a maximum of 1,300 words for Higher), but it’s generally advisable to write as close to the maximum word count as possible (providing you maintain the quality, of course!) to give you a chance to dazzle the SQA examiners with the full breadth of your literary brilliance J

A discursive essay of some sort is compulsory, but it can be either argumentative (objective, presenting a balance of evidence) or persuasive (subjective, favouring one side of the argument while acknowledging that the other side exists).

The other essay for your folio can be either a piece of creative writing (e.g. a short story or dramatic monologue) or a personal reflective piece. If you’ve always enjoyed inventing stories and characters then the creative essay would probably be a good choice for you.

However, if you’ve always struggled to think up plots for stories and reckon that you’d find it easier to write a non-fiction piece about yourself then opt for the personal reflective essay, as it allows you to reflect back on a major event/influential person/interesting experience in your own life.

There’s sometimes a temptation among pupils to rush these two folio essays, but considering what a significant proportion of the English exam mark they represent, they deserve a lot of attention. Just imagine how empowering it would be to walk into the exam hall in May knowing that you’ve already safely passed nearly a third of the exam before you even write a word!

So if you happen to be reading this before the deadlines for folio submission and you know in your heart of hearts that you’ve maybe not given your folio essays your best shot, a word to the wise: take the time to make your folio pieces the best they can be, to give yourself the best chance of a good result come August.

However, remember that these two essays must be your own original work. The software available for checking for plagiarism these days is extremely sophisticated, which means even a single sentence copied from the internet could be detected, so make synonyms (look it up if you don’t know!) your best friends. Copying is simply not worth the risk.

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