Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation

(30 marks)

As the title of the paper suggests, there are three core skills being tested in this exam:

  1. your ability to read and understand an unfamiliar piece of non-fiction prose
  2. your ability to analyse a range of literary devices used by a writer to create a particular effect
  3. your ability to evaluate the success of the writer in employing these techniques

You will have 1 hour to complete the RUAE exam. The paper is marked out of 30 and is therefore worth 30% of your overall grade.

The RUAE passage

At Higher you will be faced with two passages in the exam. These passages should be linked by the same topic, although the writers might take very different approaches or attitudes to the topic.

The majority of questions will deal with passage one; the final question deals with both passages. In this final question you will be asked to look at the main areas of agreement and/or disagreement between the two writers.

Often, reading and understanding the passages is the trickiest bit for candidates. Passages at Higher will be full of demanding vocabulary and complicated lines of thought.

The questions

It is perhaps helpful to think about the three question areas in this paper in the following way:

  • what is the writer saying? (Understanding)
  • how is the writer saying it? (Analysis)
  • how well did the writer say it? (Evaluation)

Working out whether a question is a U or an A or an E can be tricky. But looking for certain trigger words in each question will help:

Understanding questions

  • What are the key points…
  • In your own words…
  • Summarise
  • Explain what…

Analysis questions

  • With reference to the features of language used by the writer show how…
  • Analyse how techniques used by the writer…
  • How does the word choice/imagery used by the writer…
  • How is tone created…

Evaluative questions

  • How effective is…
  • How well…

Once you have figured out what type of question you are dealing with, you should then look at the mark allocation. For example:

  • a 4-mark analysis question, for example, will require you to structure your answer like this: 2 x Quotation/Technique/Analysis (with link to question)
  • an answer to a 5-mark understanding question, for example, might be best bullet pointed for clarity.

Language features

It is important that you know how to analyse a range of language features. Typically, the following language features crop up in Higher RUAE papers:

Your teacher might suggest a particular answer formula or structure for each language feature. Try not to analyse out of context. Always think about what job these techniques are doing in the passage in front of you.

You can read more about analysing language here.

The final question

The first thing to do is read that question carefully:

  • what is it asking you to look at?
  • what are the areas of agreement? Disagreement? Both?

Next, look at the mark allocation: in the most recent exam papers this question has been worth 5 marks.

Familiarise yourself with the SQA marking guidelines for this question.

To secure all five marks you must

  • identify three key areas of agreement and/or disagreement
  • provide supporting quotations from/references to the texts
  • comment in detail/insightfully on each piece of evidence

Failure to identify any key areas of agreement and/or disagreement or a clear misunderstanding of the task will result in you securing 0 marks.

Come up with a sensible way to structure your answer. You could use:

  • a table
  • bullet points
  • headings
  • provide a series of linked statements