Nat 5 Specimen Paper

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  • gordon fraser

    For all those awaiting the specimen question paper, SQA have hidden it away. We wouldn’t want the teachers knowing what they are doing, would we? This link should get you it.

    Also in the secure site, a second unit assessment pack has been uploaded. more about gathering evidence rather than formal assessment. Have fun.

    Robert Young

    Thank you kindly for reminding me about this and for saving me the trouble of looking for it. Had a very quick nose through the question paper and it looks ok.


    Is there any significance to the fact that the pseudocode specification document which accompanies the National 5 examination paper just happens to contain a finding minimum algorithm?


    I had a quick look at this as well. 9 questions involve psuedocode or programs, how many are asked in the Higher?

    When I printed it out I thought I had made a mistake and printed too many, 24 pages plus 16 pages of Marking Intstructions!

    Looking at my curent S4 Credit pupils I doubt if any of them would be able to pass this if it was taught to them, I had difficulty answering some of them!

    Looks like I will be doing Nat 4 for a while! Also the detail demonstrated in the marking is way over the top.

    jim sutherland

    I also thought that I had printed out more than one copy! Totally agree about the level of difficulty…

    Greg Reid

    With 50% of our course now SD there is a real emphasis on writing pseudocode, explaining code, identifying errors in logic, predicting the output from a program. I would also be surprised if any of my current S4 could pass this but we should now be building on these skills from S1 up with Scratch, App Inventor etc.

    If anyone is writing Nat 4/5 resources at the moment all these skills will have to be built in. Can’t teach programming anymore by having a booklet where they only work through a series of small problems writing code. Design and understanding of problems will be essential. Computational Thinking folks!

    gordon fraser

    I agree Greg. I do not mind it being difficult, as long as it is fair. However, 20 b i) and ii) surely can’t be correct. Primary keys and foreign keys. Where are these in the arrangements? If these are meant to come from “Key fields” then no doubt the actual exam will have Surrogate and Candidate keys in them as well.


    Linked tables would be where you’d mention primary and foreign keys, surely, Gordon?
    There are other issues in it like that (internal and external hyperlinks seems like an odd bit of knowledge to worry about for instance) but to my mind nothing major. What we’re doing just now in our schools is compiling a checklist of “I can” statements relating to the content. This will hopefully help us decide on the depth of each concept mentioned in the N5 docs.
    I am happy with the emphasis on code analysis – our kids can’t do it now because we don’t have the time/inclination to push them to program well (until Advanced Higher, I’d say!) – I’m sure most people have found an emphasis on programming concepts and technique in S3 is changing this already.

    Walter Patterson

    Gordon – the questions in 20 b i) and ii) are both correct and fair. In order to link two database tables you need a primary key in each and a foreign key to provide the linkage mechanism. I think the arrangements are pretty clear on that point.


    I disagree with Walter when he says that the “arrangements are pretty clear on that point”. My concern is not about whether the question is adjudged to be fair. It is that the “arrangements” do not contain the terms, which leaves it open to interpretation by learners. Surely this shows that SQA “arrangements” in their present form are lacking in sufficient detail.

    The advent of CfE should be an opportunity to get this right. We should not have to refer to both “arrangements” documents and specimen/past papers to determine the level of detail.

    Those of us who subscribe to this forum and take part in these discussions are “information rich”.

    Please, SQA, let the “arrangements” also be equally “rich”.

    Walter Patterson

    In a business environment, I explore and use data handling software which allows me to search, sort, calculate, interpret, retrieve or display information. TCH 3-06a

    Information Systems Design and Development (from SQA document) National 5 Knowledge & Understanding
    • database structure: flat file, linked tables
    • field types (text, numbers, date, time, graphics, calculated, link, Boolean)
    • field lengths and range
    • key field

    John – apologies. Perhaps I have had too many years of interpreting ‘arrangements’ documents!

    I suggest that you have to take all of the above bullet points together in order to understand the level at which the learning is to take place. If you extract ‘key field’ on its own then you would only assume that a single key field is to be understood (ie a unique reference for each data record). But the student has to understand linked tables, so the concept of key field has to be extended to primary and foreign keys. Would you agree?


    I agree wholeheartedly Walter, but you have missed my point. What about those users of the arrangements who do not have the experience or the insight to enable them to come to the eminently well reasoned conclusion that you have just set out?


    A quick scan of the specimen paper, and I found myself enthused by it. Couldn’t agree more with all that Greg says. There are challenges for teachers and learners here. Bring it!

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