National Qualifications have been available in Scotland's schools and colleges since 1999. The old SCE Higher has been phased out, and a new Higher has taken its place. The Certificate of Sixth Year study (CSYS) has also now been replaced by a completely new qualification, the Advanced Higher.

Same standard, more choice

The most important thing to remember is that the new Higher is worth exactly the same as the old one. You can use the new Higher in exactly the same way as previously for entrance to university or college, or for getting a job or a place on a training course.

What has changed is that National Qualifications provide a broader range of options for progression beyond standard grade. National Qualifications are available at up to five levels:

  • Access
  • Intermediate 1
  • Intermediate 2
  • Higher
  • Advanced Higher

Having five levels means that there is much more scope for you to demonstrate your abilities at whatever level suits you best. And each level is designed to encourage you to progress on to the next, helping you to get the most out of your education and achieve your true potential.

There are also more subjects on offer. We have expanded the range of subjects available to include areas such as Philosophy, Politics, Care, and Engineering.

A New Approach

The new qualifications usually consist of three units, plus there is an exam for all levels at Intermediate 1 and above. Each of the units counts as a qualification in its own right (they're called National Units), so even if you don't pass the whole course you still get credit for the units you have successfully achieved.

The exam in May/June covers everything you've done in the course, so it shows that you've understood what you've learned while working towards your qualification and can put it in context. The exam also helps to decide what grade you get for the course.

Exams play an important role, too, in ensuring that the rigorous standards of National Qualifications are achieved. Produce your own tailor-made exam timetable.