'Tis that time again, when Scottish students scramble for any help to be found so that they can ace their Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers. Oh, no... wait.
SQA announced that there will be no Highers this year. Students will earn their qualifications through course assessment. Your participation in online classes and the work you've turned in will count towards your qualifications.
It turns out that a rite of passage once thought of as inevitable in Scotland is evitable, but only because these are extraordinary times. They won't last forever.
Soon (we all hope), students will once again grace classrooms and the Scottish Qualifications Authority will devise exams designed to find out how much those learners have retained.
If you were meant to sit your Highers this year, you may feel anything from dismay to relief at missing out. If you've just entered college and are planning ahead for when you will sit your Highers, you will surely want to know where you can find the best resources for study.
Enter Superprof. We know where all the good stuff is and we want to share that knowledge with you.
Stating the Obvious
Whether you've taken your college classes online this year or have gotten to spend at least some time in school, we can be sure of one fact: your teachers have told you that past papers and marking schemes are the best resources for Highers study. They probably even told you where you can find them.
The SQA website is the best place to find Question Papers and Marking Instructions.
On their page, you will find papers going back four years. You might think that a bit stingy when you compare it to all of the other outlets that offer school-leaving exam preparation materials but, if you think about it, having four years worth of materials to go over is quite generous.
For one, those study tools are offered up by the very authority that administers the exams, n0t any fly-by-night outfit that might try to entice you to take courses with them or charge you a fee for accessing those pages. More importantly, you can rest assured that those documents are legitimate.
Still, if those were all the resources you needed to prepare for your exams, this would be a very short article. Indeed, you may be tempted to turn away from this page and get busy studying... but wait! There's more!
Just like any well-prepared person setting themselves to their task, the more resources you have, the better, sooner and more efficiently you can get the job done. Even if that job is preparing for life-defining exams.
BBC Bitesize is well-aware of that. That's why they maintain a page specifically for Scottish Highers. What will you find there?
Bitesize breaks your English Higher into... well, bitesize pieces so that you can easily digest every aspect this resource presents. For instance, if you have no problem with Scottish drama - you can easily identify the themes present in the work and the style it's written in, you can simply skip that study module and head straight for the one(s) you need help with.
The advantage Bitesize offers is its tests. Each section provides an overview of the text to review and, in some cases, a short video. After reading and viewing, Bitesize invites the student to take a short quiz so they can see how well they know that material.
Another bonus of studying with Bitesize: it is modular, just like your Higher exams. That means you can get used to that format long before you take your tests and, even better: you can set yourself a daily study goal of however many modules you feel comfortable exploring in one go.
The amount of access you give yourself to these two resources will determine the level of success you'll have on your exams. And, by the way...
Did you know that writing essays is one of students' most dreaded tasks? Superprof has the inside information on how you can get good at writing Highers English essays...
Sources You May Not Have Thought Of
Who in the Scottish school system didn't know about Bitesize and SQA providing study resources? As mentioned before, those two are the obvious, go-to, all-access study resources available to every student, at every level including national.
Incidentally, even though this article addresses English Highers specifically, you can also find learning resources, question papers and marking instructions for all different subjects from science and maths to language on those sites. What could be left, then, if those are so great?
Oh, plenty! Just see for yourself...
The Student Room
I think anyone involved in education knows about the Student Room, a website where students can ask questions on virtually any subject and get an answer from those knowledgeable about it... and, sometimes, those who just want to express their opinion without offering up any help or advice.
Often, those Room participants make the conversation lighter even if they don't help much.
Still, if you had a question about exam requirements or how your grades could impact your entry to university, the Student Room is a good place to turn. More often than not, the tips given are solid.
If your teachers haven't already assigned you and a few classmates to learn with, nothing is stopping you from forming a study group of your own. Always bearing in mind, of course, that the current health crisis might cause your group to meet online rather than face to face.
Who should you include in your study group?
Naturally, you might think your best mates. If they're good students who earn good grades, that's a good idea. However, if your mate is more of a class clown, maybe don't include him/her. When it comes to making the grade, you want only those who are serious about learning.
More food for thought: consider building your group out of a variety of talents.
If you're not fond of reading but a classmate is, that person should be in your group. Likewise, if a student has the best method of writing essays, invite him/her to join. A fine mix of talent and knowledge will help everyone... even your class clown friend IF s/he can keep calm during the study sessions.
You might be surprised by this suggestion. Why would Superprof suggest YouTube? Because several channels dissect, explore and explain every aspect of English Highers and how to ace them. They include:
- The Learning Cauldron
- myetutor (My E-Tutor)
- St George's School for Girls: this channel mostly promotes the school but there are SQA revision materials, too
We found those channels by typing 'English Highers' into the platform's search bar; surely there are more out there. If you know of any, won't you tell us via the comments section below?
Mind Mapping Software
One of the most effective ways of compiling, organising and reviewing information is with a mind map. No longer do you need to rely on highlighting text in your notes (and frantically paging through them to find what you're looking for) or using Post-It tabs to mark pages (and then flipping through them to find the right page).
You can simply download a mind-mapping app to put all of the information you need in one place and visible at a glance.
Some mind-map software has a price tag attached but many free applications work just as well. This software being freely available, you may consider mind-mapping your maths, science and language course study materials, too.
We saved this one for last for two reasons, the first being that they can be pretty pricey. One school quoted a price of £350 per Highers subject!
Another reason these schools weren't our first suggestion is that, with a pandemic raging and everyone social-distancing, how can anyone swear that one online learning experience - your college courses are any worse than expensive online courses offered through such organisations?
Still, some people don't mind an extra cash outlay if it means a better chance at university entry, whether the courses are held online or in-person.
All of this shows that the question is less about how you're going to pass your English Higher than which resources you will use to do so, doesn't it?
How About a Tutor?
Studies show that learners who study with a tutor do better in school and get better grades on their exams. Isn't that a great reason to find an English tutor - especially one who is familiar with SQA criteria and best test-taking practices?
Many people assume that tutors must be experts in their subject matter. To an extent, they are but what makes tutors particularly valuable is their function as an academic coach.
More than simply spewing facts and giving tips for getting the best grades, a tutor can help you find the confidence to face your exams and come out successful on the other side of them. By advising you on anything from stress-reduction techniques to creating an effective study schedule (and helping you stick to it), tutors are more than just fonts of knowledge in any given subject.
Naturally, as your guide to passing English Highers, your Superprof stands ready to support you and help you acquire all of the study skills you need to make the grade on your English Highers.