The launch of the new National qualifications this year has provoked some questions and I thought that this would be a good forum to deal with these questions with regard to the S4 modern language syllabus. I hope you find the information below helpful!
Q: N3, N4 and N5 – what are they?
A: These are three different levels of assessment for which candidates can be presented at the end of S4.
National 3 is the equivalent of doing Standard Grade Foundation level, or Access 3. You have to pass 8 unit assessments (2 reading, 2 listening, 2 writing, 2 talking) and you have no exam at the end of the course.
National 4 is the equivalent of doing Standard Grade General level, or Intermediate 1. You have to pass 8 unit assessments (2 reading, 2 listening, 2 writing, 2 talking) and you have no exam at the end of the course. In addition to your unit assessments, you have to complete a compulsory Added Value Unit, which is rigorously assessed and verified. In languages, the AVU is a research project that requires reading in the foreign language. At the end of the Unit you will be asked to make a short presentation (1-2-minutes) and respond to some questions from the audience. For session 2013-14, we will be running this unit as a job interview process.
National 5 is the equivalent of doing Standard Grade Credit level , or Intermediate 2. You have to pass 4 unit assessments at N5 level (1 reading, 1 listening, 1 writing, 1 talking). With National 5, there is an external exam at the end of the course, in May.
(It is important to note that there are no set rules for the form of the unit assessments at N3, N4 and N5. They may be set in advance as tasks you know you have to complete, or your teacher might be working with you and realise that what you are doing is good enough to provide evidence you have passed.)
Q: What is the exam like at the end of National 5?
A: The exam consists of 2 exam papers: a Reading & Writing exam which must be completed in 1 hour 30 minutes, and a Listening exam, which lasts for around 20 minutes.
The reading element of the R&W paper has 3 questions in total and is marked out of 30. The writing element immediately follows the reading, and pupils will be asked to write a letter of application for a job. This is marked out of 20. We will prepare for this in class and the exam itself is a “supported essay” – this means that pupils can prepare the essay in advance and revise it, but on the day of the exam they will not know which job they are applying for.
The listening will be a passage of text with a series of questions worth a total of 20 marks. Candidates will hear the passage 3 times before finalising their answers. The test will last 20-25 mins.
There will also be an internally assessed Talking element, which will be marked out of 30: a presentation, marked out of 10, and a conversation, marked out of 20.
Any pupils who have sat a modern language course at Int2 level will recognise the components that make up N5. They are so similar that Int2 past papers can readily be used as revision resources for N5 exams – the devil is in the detail when it comes to writing, the rest is basically the same as it was before.
Q: If I do not pass N5, will I automatically get N4?
A: No. You have to have all the evidence required for N4 to prove that you have passed this level. N4 is not a “fall-back” qualification – it is robustly assessed in its own right.
Additional information about the N4 and N5 courses can be found on the following link, which details the presentation made by Mrs Moore during the S4 Parent Information Evening http://www.edubuzz.org/northberwickhigh/about/curriculum/the-new-nationals/. Also, the school website has a dedicated area containing curriculum information. Simply click on “School Information, then select “Curriculum”.
I hope you find this information helpful.