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The folio

Folio of writing

Your folio will be submitted in April by your school or presenting centre. The folio must
contain two pieces of original writing, one of which is broadly creative and one that is
broadly discursive. Each piece will be marked out of 25, and the two marks will be averaged to
provide a total of 25. This will be added to your marks for Close Reading and Critical Essay in
the external exam in May to provide the mark that will decide your final award for Higher English.

There are two types of creative writing and three types of discursive to choose from:

Creative writing

imaginative, in the form of prose, a drama script, or a set of poems

Discursive writing


All your own work!

You will have to sign a declaration that your two pieces of writing are original, and not copied from
any other source. It is very important that you comply with this rule. If you are found to have
used material which is not original in your folio, your whole award in English is likely to be

It is advisable not to throw away your early drafts after you have completed the fair
copies of your final version in case your teacher or school requires them at a later point.

In addition, you must keep a detailed record of all the sources consulted for your discursive
writing. This should include titles and authors of books or newspaper articles, including page
numbers; authors and addresses of web-pages consulted.


The SQA asks that your final submission should be typed, word-processed or neatly written on one
side of the page only. They also specify the following forms of presentation:

a simple, plain, standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial

point size 12
alignment left or justified
margins 2cm all round
line spacing at 1.5 or 2
print colour black, except possibly for graphs, diagrams etc in a report

The minimum length for each piece is 650 words, and the maximum is 1300 words. If
your pieces are shorter or longer than this, a penalty will be applied by the marker.

Technical accuracy

Because you have access to resources like spell-checkers and dictionaries when writing your folio,
the examiners expect a high degree of technical accuracy in aspects such as spelling, punctuation
and sentence structures. Errors will significantly affect your marks.

Creative writing - two types

1. Personal / reflective

What it is

A personal/ reflective piece of writing will explore some experience of your own, or look at some aspect
of your own life.

Your aim: to interest and entertain your reader. The best personal writing will always strike a chord of
common experience and feeling in the reader. This is often a good option to choose, as people tend to
write well when they are writing about what they know.

What examiners look for

Most of all, examiners look for a clear impression of your personality coming through in your writing. You
can achieve this by exploring and explaining your thoughts and feelings. You should try to ensure that
positive and appealing traits are conveyed, such as enthusiasm, modesty and a sense of humour.

In a personal-reflective piece it may be appropriate to use a more colloquial, chatty style that you would
choose for other types of writing.

2. Imaginative

What it is

Imaginative writing may take the form of a piece of prose, such as a short story or an extract from a
(imaginary) novel, or alternatively you could submit a drama script or a set of poems.

Your aim: to draw the reader into an imaginary world; to grip the readers attention and imagination
and make him or her want to read on. A piece of prose would be a good option if you enjoy this type of
writing. Drama or poetry should only be attempted if you have a great deal of experience in writing
these genres.

What examiners look for

Examiners will look for pieces which are well structured and genuinely entertaining, with varied
vocabulary and sentence structures. A gripping opening and satisfying ending will also earn good marks.
Your piece should have a clear theme.
Discursive writing - three types
1. Argumentative
What it is
An argumentative piece takes as its topic a controversial issue
on which people hold different views. It looks at the arguments
on both sides, and evaluates them. It will then draw a
conclusion, sometimes, but not always, stating a preference for
one side of the argument.
Your aim: to present two sides of an issue in a balanced and
impartial way. You will need to do some research on your topic
in order to explore all aspects of it thoroughly. You are most
likely to get a good mark if you choose a slightly unusual topic.
What examiners look for
Clear organisation of your arguments is important, and a sense
of which arguments are most important you must rank them.
An intelligent, well-informed understanding of your topic should
be conveyed.
The topic you choose is important try to choose something
which is currently of interest and which has not been done too
often before, such as medical testing on animals or abortion.
An appropriate style: you should write in an impersonal, formal
style, and be balanced and impartial: avoid using emotive
The examiners will expect you to add your sources, either in
footnotes or in a bibliography (a list of the books you have
consulted) at the end.
2. Persuasive
What it is
A persuasive piece of writing takes as its topic something you
feel strongly about, and makes a case for it. You might mention
the counter-arguments, but you would argue vigorously against
them, and attempt to disprove them.
Your aim: to convince the reader of your point of view.
What examiners look for
As in the case of argumentative writing, the examiners will want
to see that your opinions are well supported by evidence not
just an expression of prejudice. Your sources must be
acknowledged in footnotes or in a bibliography at the end.You
should convey a clear and sincere sense of conviction, which
should enable you to persuade your readers that your point of
view is a valid one.
Your style should still be fairly formal, although in a persuasive
essay you can write more personally and emotively than in an
argumentative one. You might want to use techniques like
rhetorical question, for example.
3. A report
What it is
A report is a piece of factual writing on a topic. It must include
information from at least two sources. The information should
be in sentences, in continuous prose, but you may also include
diagrams, tables, charts and graphs by way of illustration.
Although this might seem an easy option, it is not. Your teacher
or lecturer will advise you if it is a suitable choice for you.
What examiners look for
A formal, impersonal style is appropriate. Your style should be
uniform throughout it should not be apparent from the style
that you have taken material from different sources. The
material should be well structured and in a logical order. Good
linkage will be important.