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How to Answer Close Reading Questions: National 5 and Higher English

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Close Reading or Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation is an important part of the external assessment in both the National 5 and Higher English courses. This article looks at how to answer closer reading questions at both National 5 and Higher.

In both National 5 and Higher English, close reading is the first paper of the examination.


What does close reading involve?


Assessment in this area involves reading a previously unseen passage – usually an extract from a broadsheet newspaper) and answering a selection of questions. The process of close reading requires that you closely examine a piece of writing.

But even though the passage you are required to read may be unfamiliar, we can still prepare very effectively for this part of the exam.


Close Reading Question Types


The first key to your close reading success is the realisation that the questions can be divided into three main types:


U – Understanding Questions

These questions are testing your understanding of WHAT is in the text


A – Analysis Questions

These questions assess whether you have grasped HOW meaning has been conveyed


E – Evaluation Questions

These questions expect comment on HOW WELL meaning has been conveyed or impact has been created.


Recognising close reading question types


We can usually tell what type of question it is by the language used.


Understanding questions will often ask you to explain or summarise part of the text, and they mostly ask you to use your own words.