Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the most commonly asked questions.
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Whether you are a college, school, employer or training provider, our FAQs can help answer most of your questions.
If you are studying or thinking about taking one of our qualifications, our FAQs can answer most of your questions, especially around exam time.
Our FAQs can help with questions you may have about our National Qualifications that support Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence.
Results Services has replaced the appeals service. We have prepared a number of FAQs to help answer your questions about Results Services.
These FAQs should help to answer any questions you have about your Scottish Qualifications Certificate.
The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is a way of comparing the wide range of Scottish qualifications.
If you are interested in having your qualifications or learning programmes included in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) these FAQs are for you.
SQA’s Customised Awards allow you to develop qualifications that are tailored to your needs.
What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?
Recognition of Prior Learning is a method of assessing whether a learner’s experience and achievements meet the evidence requirements for a unit (or units) in an SQA qualification. This experience may or may not have been developed through a course of learning. For further information visit: SQA RPL Policy
How do I find out the dates of this year’s exams?
You can check the dates and times of this year's exams using the current examination timetable.
Can I make changes to a candidate's personal details?
You can make changes to your registered candidate's personal details as long as these details are accurate and the proper identification is provided to support this change. If you have any queries relating to this process please e-mail:
How do I check key dates for submission of entries?
The current calendar of key dates for submission of entries is available from our Operational Help Centre.
How do I update my centre’s details with SQA?
You can update your centre's details, including details for the SQA Co-ordinator, either by contacting our Business Development and Customer Support team, or by filling out our online Centre Update form.
How do I provide feedback, comments or make a complaint to SQA?
If you don't already have a named contact within SQA, contact our Business Development and Customer Support team. Our Customer Charter gives further details and information on how to make a formal complaint.
How do I make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request?
I would like to deliver a specific qualification, how would I go about this?
If you know the name of your Business Development Manager/Consultant then you can contact them directly.
Alternatively call 0303 3330330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with the relevant contact.
For more information visit: How do I deliver SQA qualifications - http://www.sqa.org.uk/sandbox/63284.html
How can I access support materials for National Qualifications?
A range of documents and support materials is available from the subject pages of our website at www.sqa.org.uk/nqsubjects. Support materials for unit assessments and coursework are held on our secure website at www.sqa.org.uk/secure
You can arrange access to secure materials through your SQA co-ordinator. These materials must be stored securely and treated as confidential.
I have a candidate who requires additional support during their exams, how can I arrange this?
Any requests for additional support needs must come directly from the centre and should be sent to email@example.com or call 0303 3330330
I am interested in becoming an SQA Appointee, where can I get more information?
For more information and to apply for Appointee positions please visit: Applying to be an Appointee
Or contact us by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 2791000
How do I contact SQA?
There are a number of communication methods, depending on the nature of your enquiry. Full details are available on our Contact SQA page.
Where can I access past papers?
You can access past papers for National Qualifications using our Past Paper Finder.
How do I order a replacement certificate?
Replacement certificates can be arranged for a fee of £38.00 and this service normally takes between 2-3 weeks.
You can order your replacement certificate online at www.sqa.org.uk/eshop
Alternatively, you can submit a written request to us by completing our Replacement Certificate Form. Once complete the form can be returned to the following postal address:
Scottish Qualifications Authority
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Or, if you have completed the form electronically and are paying by credit/debit card, you can e-mail it to us at email@example.com
The replacement certificate will also show Core skills, SQA Credits & SCQF credit points if these are applicable to your qualification(s).
How can I sign up to receive my results by e-mail or text?
Learners studying National Qualifications can sign up to receive exam results by e-mail or text on MySQA.
You register using your Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) and activate your account once you receive the activation letter – this letter will be sent to the home address that your school or college has provided us with. After you activate your account, you will then have to select whether you wish to receive your exam results by e-mail or text.
Please note: registration for MySQA closes a few weeks before results day, so make sure you register early.
How do I make a general enquiry to SQA for advice and guidance?
For general support and advice, please complete our candidate enquiry form.
How can I get study advice and information?
Our Study Guides and videos will give you hints and tips to help you when studying for SQA qualifications.
How do I find my Scottish Candidate Number (SCN)?
Your Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) is displayed directly under your name on your certificate.
If you do not have your certificate you should complete the Candidate Enquiry Form, this will allow us to locate your records and provide you with your SCN
Alternatively, call us on 0345 279 1000 and we will confirm your details then provide you with your SCN Number.
How do I compare my qualifications with those in other countries?
We cannot provide direct comparisons between our qualifications and that of other awarding bodies within the UK or internationally.
How do I change the name on my record or certificate?
Please note, if you currently attend school, college or are an SQA learner through your employer or training provider, then your centre has the responsibility to amend your record for you. Please ask your teacher, lecturer or employer/contact to update your record.
If you no longer attend school or college, and would like to update your SQA record, please complete and return our change of name declaration form and contact us directly. To enable us to process and update your record we require two copies of identification - one is required to be a link from your previous to your current name. Please note you do not need to send us the original documents; photocopies or scanned copies will be sufficient. You can scan and e-mail these documents to firstname.lastname@example.org or send them by post to the following address:
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
How do I change my address details?
If you are currently studying your school/college or training provider will have to change your address as this must be done by the centre who have registered you for the qualification you are studying.
If you are no longer studying, we will require more information to allow us to locate your Candidate record, please complete our Candidate Enquiry Form
We will then be able to complete your change of address.
How can I find out which centres offer the courses I’m interested in?
Contact your local school, college or training provider. Most colleges have this information on their website. You can also visit www.myworldofwork.co.uk
If you would like information on a specific course that we offer then please complete the Candidate Enquiry Form.
What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?
Recognition of Prior Learning is a method of assessing whether your experience and achievements meet the evidence requirements of a unit (or units) in an SQA qualification. This experience may or may not have been developed through a course of learning. For further information visit: SQA RPL Policy
Can I request for my external assessment material to be returned to me?
Yes, we provide a Return of External Assessment Materials service to return non-examination material that has been submitted to us for assessment. We understand that the materials your school or college sent us as part of your assessment (such as recordings, artwork or written material) might be of special value to you. You can submit a request, asking us to send back the materials.
Can I get access to my exam script under the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) Act 2002 / Data Protection Act 1998?
No. Candidates are not able to access their exam paper under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Data Protection Act 1998 for the following reasons:
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002:
The Freedom of Information Act gives individuals the right to access non-personal information held by SQA.
A request to see an exam script is a request for personal information, and therefore it is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 as personal information is protected by the Data Protection Act 1998.
Data Protection Act 1998:
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to request access to the personal information that we process about you. Your request is known as a ‘subject access request’.
However, your exam script is exempt from release under the Data Protection Act and you will not receive a copy of this. SQA markers are instructed not to add their comments to exam scripts, but where this does occasionally happen you will receive a copy of any marks or comments that have been added to your script. We will provide these, if available, in response to your subject access request. Find out more on SQA’s Access to information
I signed up to receive my exam results by text but I haven't received anything, why is this?
Did you sit exams for National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher? If the answer is no, you will not receive your results by text and/or e-mail as this service is only available to candidates who have sat done a National course. If the answer is yes, please contact your service provider. Please note, on results day 2016, any e-mails / texts containing exam results will be sent out to candidates with an activated account at 8am on Tuesday 9 August 2016. Please note: if you are abroad on results day, you will only receive a text if your phone is set up to receive messages abroad and if you have enough credit.
When will MySQA re-open so I can register for next year?
MySQA will re-open on Friday 12 August at 9.00 am.
What are National Qualifications?
National Qualifications are one of the most important types of qualification in Scotland, and almost everyone leaving school or college today has one or more National Qualification. They are mainly taken by learners in the senior phase of secondary school (S4 to S6) and learners in colleges, including adult learners.
They cover a range of subjects and are designed to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed beyond the classroom; whether progressing to other SQA qualifications, training, employment or university. Find out more at www.sqa.org.uk/nq
How do the current National Qualifications differ from the previous National Qualifications?
There is more focus on skills development compared to the previous qualifications, however the current qualifications still place a great deal of importance on knowledge and understanding.
The following table shows how the current qualifications replaced the previous ones.
|SCQF Level||National Qualification||Replaces||Previous National Qualification|
|1 and 2||National 1 and 2||>||Access 1 and Access 2|
|3||National 3||>||Access 3 and Standard Grade (Foundation level)|
|4||National 4||>||Standard Grade (General level) and Intermediate 1|
|5||National 5||>||Standard Grade (Credit level) and Intermediate 2|
|7||Advanced Higher (new)||>||Advanced Higher|
The current National Qualifications have also been designed to share a similar structure at each level. This means there is a smoother progression between levels, eg when progressing from National 5 to Higher.
What skills do learners develop when studying National Qualifications?
Learners develop practical skills like data collection and team-working; Core Skills like literacy, numeracy, communication, ICT and problem solving; and Skills for Learning, Life and Work (SfLLW) such as employability, independent thinking, and enterprise and citizenship.
How are literacy and numeracy skills developed?
Literacy and/or numeracy skills are developed within all National courses, though how this takes place will vary depending on the subject area.There are National Literacy Units and National Numeracy Units which learners can study for on a stand-alone basis.These units are also a required part of some National courses. More information can be found on our Literacy and Numeracy page.
Why do learners in some schools study 5 or 6 subjects in S4, while others study 7 or 8?
SQA does not specify the number of qualifications that schools should deliver. The number of subjects that learners study in S4 is decided locally by the school or local authority.
Why are there no exams in National 4 courses?
National 4 courses have been designed to provide flexibility in timetabling and assessment. Internal assessment is more suitable for courses at National 4 level and will help to build learners' confidence in preparation for National 5. Learners do a National 4 Added Value Unit assessment instead of an exam, and the Added Value Unit assessment allows them to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout the course.
Do candidates who are entered for National 5 courses need to do the National 4 Added Value Unit as well?
No. SQA advice is that candidates who are working towards a National 5 qualification should only be entered for the National 4 Added Value Unit if they are considered to be a borderline candidate. Schools and colleges should only enter candidates for the qualification they are most likely to achieve.
Do internally assessed qualifications hold less weight than those with externally marked assessments?
No. All internally assessed qualifications are subject to robust quality assurance by SQA, to ensure that the qualifications are being assessed at the national standard.
National 4 follows a similar model to other existing qualifications such as the Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND), which are both internally assessed but quality assured by SQA. Many people use these qualifications to progress into employment or to get into higher education, often with advanced standing (where the university accepts the qualification as credit towards completing an undergraduate course, enabling the student to enter the course at a more advanced stage, eg entering at second year instead of third year).
What support is available during exams and assessments for disabled candidates or candidates with additional support needs?
SQA can allow assessment arrangements to be made for candidates in their exams and assessments. For example, a candidate who experiences difficulties with writing can use a laptop. We allow many different kinds of assessment support, such as use of sign language, human readers, scribes, prompters or extra time to complete assessments. We can also provide adapted question papers, including Braille question papers, digital question papers, large print question papers and question papers printed on coloured paper.
The school or college is responsible for making an assessment arrangments request to SQA and we will work with them to find the most suitable arrangement for the candidate. In most cases, the school or college will have already identified the candidate's needs and will be providing support for them during their studies, not just in exams and assessments.
Do all learners sit prelims?
No. It is for individual schools and colleges to decide whether or not to use prelims. Prelims do not form part of the formal assessment process for National Qualifications and are not a requirement.
Prelim papers are set and marked by the school or college, not by SQA.
Are grades in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Courses banded?
Yes, however this information does not appear on the candidate's qualifications certificate. The certificate will simply state that the candidate has achieved grade A, B, C or D.
If a candidate wishes to find out which band they have achieved, they will need to contact their school or college. The school or college will be provided with details of which band the candidate achieved their grade at; for example, where a candidate has achieved an A, if they achieved an A (upper) at Band 1 or an A (lower) at Band 2.
What does Grade D mean?
Candidates are awarded National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Courses at grades A, B, C and D. This grade appears on their Scottish Qualifications Certificate.
Grade D, like grades A to C, is reported on the Scottish Qualifications Certificate as a Course award and attracts both UCAS points and SCQF points. Grade D indicates that the candidate has achieved all the National Units for the Course at that level and has achieved a band 7 in the external assessment - this equates to getting between 45-49% in the Course assessment.
Candidates who score less than 45% in the Course assessment receive a 'No Award' result, and are not awarded the National Course.
Is a Grade D at National 5 higher than a pass at National 4?
Yes. National 5 Courses carry 24 Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credit points at SCQF level 5, reflected the level of demand and difficulty involved.
National 4 Courses – which are not graded – also carry 24 SCQF points, however these are at SCQF level 4, which has a lower level of demand and challenge.
What are grade boundaries and how do they work?
Grade boundaries are the marks required to achieve a particular grade within a Course.
For each National Course, the Course assessment (whether question paper or coursework, or both) has an intended level of demand and difficulty which reflects the grade descriptors for the Course and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level at which it is set.
If the Course assessment is found to be easier or more difficult than intended, adjustments are made to make sure the national standard of the Course is maintained. In other words, to make sure that the level of difficulty required to achieve an A, B, C or D in the assessment remains unchanged from one year to the next.
We take our responsibility to uphold the high standards of Scottish qualifications very seriously.
What is the fallback position for candidates who receive a 'fail' or 'No Award' result?
There is no automatic fallback position at any level. However, for candidates who don't achieve the course award at National 5, we have an arrangement in place called Recognising Positive Achievement, which means that they may be eligible to achieve National 4 instead. This arrangement is also in place for candidates who don't achieve National 4 but may be eligible to achieve National 3. Ask your school or college for more information.
Any candidates who receive a 'fail' or 'No Award' result, who wish to re-sit the following year, will only be required to complete the parts of the course they haven't already passed. However it is at the discretion of the school or college to decide whether or not to re-enter candidates for the course.
How is SQA ensuring that national standards are met and maintained?
We have robust quality assurance arrangements in place to support internal assessment in National Qualifications. We use a combination of approaches to externally verify assessments to make sure they continue to meet national standards. More information is available from our Quality Assurance page.
Is SQA providing support to teachers and lecturers to help them understand the national standards required?
Yes. We are currently running an Understanding Standards programme to help teachers and lecturers develop their understanding of the standards required for assessment. Further information on this programme can be found on the Understanding Standards webpage.
Key Dates for Post-results Services
|9 August 2016||Opening date for Post-results Services clerical check or marking review requests|
|19 August 2016||Closing date for submission of priority marking review or clerical check requests - for candidates with a conditional offer at university or college|
|30 August 2016||Closing date for submission of clerical check or marking review requests|
|30 September 2016||Date by which centres will receive the results of clerical checks and marking reviews|
|November 2016||New certificates issued to candidates|
If there are any changes to the timeline for advising of Post-results Services results, SQA will contact centres.
What is Results Services?
There are two parts to Results Services:
- Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service
This service supports candidates who have been unable to attend an externally assessed timetabled examination, or whose performance in an externally assessed timetabled examination may have been fundamentally affected as a result of an incident beyond their control.
This service is available for all examinations that appear in the examination timetable. If a school or college believes a candidate has been affected by exceptional circumstances, it will inform SQA and submit alternative evidence of attainment demonstrated by the candidate such as coursework, class assessments or mock tests.
It is only available before the results are published, and exists to support only those candidates who have suffered an exceptional circumstance, such as bereavement or a medical condition.
It is always recommended that a candidate sits the examination where possible. Sitting the examination does not exclude the candidate from having an exceptional circumstances request submitted on their behalf.
Post-results Services can be used where a school or college has concerns about a candidate’s certificated result. If they believe the final mark does not reflect expectations, they can request a priority marking review, clerical check or a marking review of the exam paper and other externally assessed components, such as a portfolio.
These services operate after candidates receive their exam results.
Schools and colleges can request a clerical check or a marking review of the candidate materials that were submitted to SQA for marking. If the clerical check or marking review leads to a change of grade (either up or down), this will be amended on our computer system and a new certificate will be issued to the candidate.
There will be no consideration of ‘alternative evidence’ with this service. If the original grade remains unchanged following the check/review, the school or college will be charged for this service.
The candidate was expecting a better grade than the one achieved. Can they appeal for a better grade?
Candidates with concerns about their grade should discuss these with their centre. If the centre also shares the candidate's concerns the centre can submit a Post-results Services request for either a clerical check or a marking review. SQA does not accept Post-results Services requests from a candidate or candidate representative.
The candidate wishes to have their award reviewed but the centre does not believe that there has been an error in marking. What should the candidate do?
The final decision regarding whether or not to submit a Post-results Services request lies with the Head of Centre. Candidates and candidate representatives should discuss their concerns directly with the centre, and if they continue to be unhappy with the centre's response, should follow the centre's own complaints policy.
SQA will not accept a Post-results Services request that has not been submitted by the centre. Centres may have their own policy with regard to candidates’ eligibility for Post-results Services. Many centres have published this policy on their website.
Can a centre submit an exceptional circumstance request after the candidate has received their result?
No. Exceptional Circumstances is a pre-certification service, and requests must be submitted and approved by the Head of Centre within 10 working days of the examination.
Can a candidate’s grade change if a centre submits a Post-results Service request?
Yes. Grades can go up, go down or remain unchanged as a result of a clerical check or marking review.
Why doesn’t SQA issue component marks for the grades awarded to Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service candidates?
In a nationally-timetabled examination, candidates all undertake the same exam paper, allowing standard marking instructions to be followed. However, in Exceptional Circumstances, examiners consider a wide range of alternative evidence produced by the candidate. They are looking to ascertain what grade a candidate has demonstrated, rather than a specific mark — therefore no component marks can be provided.
In some instances, if a candidate with an Exceptional Circumstances request attempted to sit the exam, component marks will be shown in reports issued to centres by SQA in August 2016. However, these component marks may not equate to the final grade awarded via Exceptional Circumstances, as alternative evidence will also have been considered.
When does SQA dispose of examination materials?
Materials from the May/June exams are sent for secure disposal in the first week of January in the following academic year. Materials submitted as evidence for the Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service will be held securely for at least 12 months, at which point they will be sent for secure disposal unless a request to return these has been received. All materials reviewed as part of a Post-results Services script are retained by SQA for a period of at least 12 months from the date of certification.
What is a clerical check?
If a school or college submits a request for a clerical check, SQA will check that all parts of the exam paper or other externally assessed component, such as a portfolio, have been marked, that the marks given for each answer have been added correctly, and that the correct total mark or result was entered into SQA's computer system.
If a clerical check results in a change to a candidate's grade, SQA will issue a revised certificate to the candidate.
Schools and colleges will be charged a fee for using this service where there is no change to the original grade following the clerical check.
What is a marking review?
If a school or college submits a request for a marking review, an SQA senior examiner will ensure that:
- all parts of a candidate's materials submitted to SQA – examination paper(s) and/or other externally assessed components – have been marked
- the marking is in line with the national standard
- the marks given for each answer have been totalled correctly, and
- the correct result has been entered on SQA's results software
Should a candidate have a conditional offer in further or higher education which is dependent on the outcome of the review, a school or college can request a priority marking review.
The candidate’s school or college will be informed of the result following the review. If a marking review results in a change to a candidate’s grade, SQA will issue a revised certificate to the candidate.
Schools and colleges will be charged a fee for using this service when there is no change to the original grade following the marking review.
What is meant by alternative evidence?
Can the candidate's result go down?
Is there a charge for Results Services?
If a school or college requests a clerical check or marking review of a candidate's examination paper(s) and/or other externally assessed components, and the grade remains unchanged, they will be charged for this service.
The charges are:
- Clerical check £10
- Marking review £29.75
- Priority marking review £39.75
There will be no charge for the Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service.
Other questions frequently raised by teachers, candidates and parents are attached. All general enquiries should be raised with us at 0345 279 1000 or email@example.com.
You may also find our Beyond the Exam short film useful:
Beyond the Exam (January 2014)
Your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)
Find out more information about your Scottish Qualification Certificate.
I didn’t get the results I expected / I failed to meet the conditions of the offer made by a university. Can you advise me what I should do?
For advice on university admissions:
The Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is happy to speak to any applicants in this situation. Their operational hours Monday to Friday from 8:30am – 6.00pm and you can contact them using the following methods:
- Telephone: 0871 468 0468
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Postal address: UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ
For careers advice:
Please call the Skills Development Scotland Exam Results Helpline. Qualified Careers Advisors will be on hand to offer careers advice, and discuss clearing vacancies and alternative options. The helpline number is 0808 100 8000. The 2016 helpline will run from Tuesday 9 August until Wednesday 17 August 2016. The opening hours are as follows:
- 9 and 10 August: 8.00 am – 8.00 pm
- 11–17 August: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
I haven't received my certificate, how can I find out my results?
A) Has the postman or postwoman been yet?
Your certificate should arrive along with the rest of your household mail. If the mail hasn't arrived yet, there may be a delay due to the volume of mail being delivered on results day. Please wait until the postman or postwoman has been.
Go to B.
B) Did you register with MySQA to receive your results by text and/or e-mail?
If yes, you will have received notification of your results. All text and e-mail results are issued from 8:00am on results day. If your certificate doesn't arrive, contact your school or college when the new session starts to arrange for another certificate to be sent, and check that your school or college has provided SQA with the correct home address.
If no, go to C.
C) If you haven't registered to receive your results by text or e-mail, your household mail has been delivered and you still haven't received your certificate, please call our candidate advice line on 0345 279 1000 and provide us with a contact telephone number so that we can call you back.
My certificate has been damaged in the post, can I request a new one?
Yes. If your certificate has been damaged, please contact your school or college and they will arrange for a new certificate to be issued on your behalf.
My name has been spelled incorrectly on my certificate, what can I do?
We use the details your school or college supplies us with. Please contact your school or college and ask them to update your details and advise us to arrange another certificate to be sent to you.
I have received two certificates with different information on them, why is this?
The most likely explanation is that we are holding your results under two different Scottish Candidate Numbers. Please take both certificates to your school or college and ask them to arrange a ‘merge’ with us to bring the information together into one single certificate.
Can I have something removed from my certificate?
Your certificate is a record of all of your achievements. Items can only be removed if they have been included in error — if you think this is the case, you should contact your school or college who will liaise with us to resolve the matter.
I have sat my qualifications in Gaelic, does this affect how I receive my results and the number of SCQF points / UCAS tariff points I acquire?
This year, each candidate who has undertaken National Qualifications through the medium of Gaelic will receive a single certificate displaying these qualification titles in Gaelic.
At present, the following National Qualifications are available from SQA through the medium of Gaelic:
- Lifeskills Mathematics (Matamataig Sgilean-beatha) - National 2 to National 5
- Geography (Cruinn-eòlas) - National 3 to Advanced Higher
- Modern Studies (Nuadh-eòlas) - National 3 to Advanced Higher
- History (Eachdraidh) - National 3 to Advanced Higher
- Mathematics (Matamataig) - National 4 to Advanced Higher
MySQA - results by e-mail or text
Qualifications achieved through the medium of Gaelic will be displayed in Gaelic in the abbreviated text message and/or e-mail (if you have signed up for MySQA).
Qualifications taken in Gaelic medium will attract the same number of SCQF points as their English language equivalent
Qualifications taken in undertaken in Gaelic medium will attract the same number of UCAS points as their English language equivalent.
I sat my exams in Gaelic but the course title does not appear on my certificate, why is this?
All units and courses attained through the medium of Gaelic will be reported in Gaelic on your certificate. If the course does not appear on your certificate, it is likely that you have not achieved the course award. Check the covering letter of your certificate; if you have received a 'No Award' result for the course, this will be stated here. You can also check for the following information in your certificate pack:
- Are all of the units that you passed within the course listed on your certificate and reported in Gaelic? If the units are listed but the course title isn't, then you haven't achieved the overall course award.
- Qualification titles and units/elements that appear in Gaelic on the certificate will be followed by an English translation in brackets (). An appendix is also attached which provides details of the Gaelic titles and their English translation.
- Is there a recognition statement (in English) reported in the 'Detailed record of attainment' section? The recognition statement indicates that the course was assessed and attained through the medium of Gaelic. If this does not appear, you have not achieved the course award.
Please contact your school to discuss further any questionsor concerns you may have about not completing or not achieving the course.
My certificate does not contain the correct Gaelic spelling, eg grave accents, why is this?
Your certificate will display the subject and any associated units/elements in Gaelic. However, due to restrictions with system functionality at this stage, we are unable to produce certain characters, such as grave accents. This is currently under review as part of our Gaelic Language Plan commitments.
Can I order a replacement certificate in Gaelic?
Yes. Replacement certificates can be ordered using our Replacement Certificate Service. Please note that only replacement certificates ordered for candidates who sat exams from 2012 onwards will display course titles and units/elements in Gaelic. Replacement certificates for years up to, and including, 2011 will be issued in English only.
What are core skills?
Core Skills are a group of five skills that are key to learning and working in today's world. Employers have identified these skills as those that are most likely to be needed in any work environment. This does not mean that every job will need people who are proficient in all five Core Skills but it does mean that every job will require some level of ability in some or all of these skills.
The five Core Skills are:
- Information and Communication Technology
- Problem Solving
- Working with Others
Why are the Core Skills I’ve been awarded not showing at the same level as my course and unit achievements?
The Core Skills that are built into our qualifications are not always at the same level as the course or unit itself. For further information about this, you should contact your school or college, or visit our Core Skills web page
Grade or Result Queries
How are National 2 to Advanced Higher courses graded?
Courses at National 2, National 3 and National 4 levels are not graded - they are assessed as pass or fail only.
Courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher are graded A to D. Grading is based on your performance in the course assessment. If you fail the course assessment, you will receive a 'No Award' result.
I have been awarded a grade D – what does this mean?
This means that you have achieved all of the units in the course and have achieved a band 7 in the course assessment (which equates to between 45 and 49%). Candidates who score less than 45% in their course assessment are not awarded a National course and will receive a 'No Award' result.
Grade D, like grades A to C, is reported on the Scottish Qualifications Certificate as a Course award and attracts both UCAS points and SCQF points.
Can I see my grade banding / component mark?
Grade banding / component marks can only be obtained from your school or college.
If your school or college has staff available during certification week to assist candidates, please note that they may not have access to this information, as banding and component marks are sent to directly to the SQA Co-ordinator. As such, we advise waiting until the start of term to obtain this information.
I completed a National 5 course, why have I been awarded National 4?
If you have received a National 4 instead, this means you have failed the National 5 course assessment, however you have benefited from our Recognising Positive Achievement arrangements. These arrangements support candidates who attempt a National 5 course but who do not achieve a grade A to D in the course assessment. Where a hierarchical or corresponding course exists at National 4, these candidates are awarded the course at this level instead.
To be eligible for Recognising Positive Achievement, you need to have passed:
- All of the internally-assessed units in the National 5 Course.
- The National 4 Added Value unit.
- A National Literacy unit (for National 4 English or Gàidhlig courses only) or a National Numeracy Unit (for National 4 Mathematics only). This is an additional condition which only applies to these courses, as the hierarchical courses at National 5 do not contain these units.
The opportunity to achieve the National 4 Course is available until the following April. So if you fail the National 5 course, but haven't met the above criteria to achieve National 4 instead, your school or college may choose to enter you for the National 4 award instead, provided that you meet the above criteria before April.
Is the achievement of a Grade D in a National 5 Course of more value than achieving a pass at National 4?
Yes. National 5 Courses (which are graded A to D) carry 24 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 5, reflecting the level of demand and challenge involved.
National 4 Courses (which are not graded) also carry 24 SCQF points, but these are at a SCQF level 4, which has a lower level of demand and challenge.
Why is there no grade on my certificate for my course?
First of all, check that the course grade that you're missing is for a National course and not for a Skills for Work course (which are also available at National 5 and Higher). Skills for Work courses are not graded, they are assessed as pass or fail only.
If it is a grade for a National course that is missing, then this would normally mean that you have not achieved a grades A to D in the course assessment. Or it could be that some of your unit results are missing, which has prevented you from getting the full course award. To achieve the course award, you need to pass all units plus the course assessment. Details of the units you have passed will be listed in the 'National Units' sections of your certificate pack (on the 'Summary of attainment' and 'Detailed record of attainment' pages). Look under the ‘National Units’ heading - if the tile of the course is showing (eg X721 76 Drama: External Assessment) then there are either unit results missing or you have failed a unit. Please go back to your school or college and discuss the matter with them. Staff in your school or college can get in touch with SQA to take action if they need to rectify this.
Alternatively, it might be that your final unit(s) were not formally assessed in time for the certificate being issued on results day, as there is a final cut-off date for schools and colleges to submit the results to us before the end of the session. If you fall into this category, we will issue you with an updated certificate in either late August or mid-September.
Why have my National units not been graded like my course results? / Why are there no levels against my National units?
Units in National courses are not graded; they are assessed as pass or fail. If they are listed on your certificate, then you have passed them. If they are not on your certificate, then it is possible you have failed them or your school or college has deferred a decision until you complete the evidence needed for a pass. If you think your unit results are missing, please discuss this with your school or college.
Some National units do not have levels attached to them. These are usually units that were offered by SQA’s predecessor bodies, which were called ‘modules’ or ‘short courses’. Now, for certification purposes, we call them ‘Unlevelled National units’.
What does ‘Exam Only’ mean?
To achieve a National Course at National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher level, you must pass all of the units in the course plus the course assessment. 'Exam Only' means that you have passed the course assessment but you have not passed all of the units required to achieve the overall course award.
What does ‘No Award’ mean?
'No Award' means that you have failed the course. Any units that you passed within the course will be listed in the National Units section of your certificate pack.
What is the SCQF and what does it do?
SCQF stands for Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.
The framework shows how all qualifications in Scotland, such as those awarded by SQA and universities, compare with each other. It supports progression or movement between different qualifications — eg learners who have achieved an HND (SCQF level 8) can often get direct entry into the third year (SCQF level 9) of a related undergraduate Degree course in some universities.
What does ‘SCQF Level’ mean?
The level of the qualification shows how demanding it is. There are 12 levels in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, with level 1 being the least difficult (introductory level of qualification) and level 12 the most demanding (PhDs).
How do ‘credit points’ work? What do they mean?
Credit points are based on the amount of time the average learner would take to complete the qualification. As well as including the time spent learning in school, college and university, it also includes self-directed learning — ie study at home or the library. One SCQF credit point represents a notional 10 hours of learning. So, for example, if a learner achieves a Higher Course (SCQF level 6) with 24 SCQF credits, they will have undertaken about 240 hours of learning.
Why is the SCQF shown on the certificate?
The SCQF has been used in Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities for several years, and employers are increasingly becoming more aware of it. With more and more qualifications being placed in the framework, we feel that it is right to include SCQF information on your certificate.
Knowing your SCQF information can help you make decisions about what to do next. It also helps colleges and universities make decisions about entry or progression and, increasingly, employers understand how your qualifications compare to other qualifications.
Are SCQF credit points the same as UCAS tariff points?
No, they are not. SCQF credit points are not the same as UCAS tariff points and do not relate to the tariff. UCAS tariff points are designed solely for the purpose of determining the utility of a qualification for progression into higher education. They relate to the type of qualification and the grade achieved and are allocated on that basis. By contrast, SCQF credit points are a measure of how much learning needs to be done to achieve a qualification, regardless of the grade achieved.
Why does Scotland need a Framework of levels and credits?
The Framework shows that qualifications are broadly comparable (though this does not mean that they are equivalent) by describing them using a common language of level and credit.
The SCQF supports the Scottish Government’s lifelong learning strategy and - now that there’s more mobility of learners and workers across the UK, Europe and internationally - qualification Frameworks are the method by which learning will be understood globally. SCQF information will be useful to holders of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) so they can explain to employers and training providers how their qualifications compare to other qualifications.
Who will benefit from the SCQF?
The SCQF is beneficial to a wide range of people and organisations such as:
- people of all ages and circumstances who access education and training over their lifetime to fulfil their personal, social and economic potential
- employers, learners and the public who will be able to understand the full range of Scottish qualifications, how they relate to each other and how they can contribute to improving skills
- qualification providers, who will be able to describe programmes of learning that lead to qualifications and make the relationship between qualifications clearer
Other benefits will be to:
- clarify entry and exit points and support the development of routes to progress from qualification to qualification
- maximise the opportunities to transfer credit between qualifications
- assist learners to plan their progress and learning
Who developed the SCQF?
The SCQF is managed by a partnership of SQA, the higher education sector (working through the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland), and the Scottish Government. An industry representative also sits on the SCQF Board. However, a much wider range of stakeholders have overseen the SCQF’s development, including Skills Development Scotland, learndirect scotland, the Confederation of British Industry, Confederation of Scotland’s Local Authorities (COSLA), Federation of Small Businesses, Education Scotland and Communities Scotland.
Is SCQF new?
The SCQF is managed by a partnership of SQA, the higher education sector (working through the Quality Assurance Agency and Universities Scotland), and the Scottish Government. The Association of Scotland’s Colleges have recently joined this partnership. However, a much wider range of stakeholders have overseen the SCQF’s development, also including Careers Scotland, learndirect scotland, the Confederation of British Industry, Confederation of Scotland’s Local Authorities (COSLA), Her Majesties Inspectorate of Education and Communities Scotland.
Visit the SQA Ready Reckoner to see where SQA qualifications are placed in the SCQF
Are qualifications that have the same level equal?
No. The SCQF level shows that qualifications at the same level involve the same complexity of learning, but each qualification may differ in terms of the subject, purpose and size. For example; qualifications on the same level may have a different number of credit points, which will show that more time is needed to achieve the qualification. For example, an Advanced Higher is at SCQF level 7 and has 32 credit points, while a Higher National Certificate is also at SCQF level 7and has 96 credit points. Not only are the qualifications different sizes, but they are also different types and serve different purposes.
Are all credit points worth the same?
Yes. (And no.) SCQF credit points are all allocated on the basis of one SCQF credit point to 10 learning hours. This means that the six SCQF credit points for a Higher Unit and the six credit points for an Intermediate 2 Unit each represent 60 hours of learning. However, the credits for Higher have been gained at level 6, while the credits for Intermediate 2 have been gained at level 5. This means that the learning at level 6 is more complex than level 5.
Do I aim to get as many credits as possible, or as many qualifications at the highest level?
You should aim for the programmes of learning that are best for you at different times of your life. For example, at school you might try for Highers (level 6). Later on, you might want to learn a new skill as a hobby, and that qualification could be at SCQF level 5; or during your working life you might take an SVQ at SCQF level 7.
Do credits entitle me to study for another qualification or job?
Individual universities and colleges set entry requirements for their courses, so it is up to them to determine how relevant your learning is compared to their requirements. However, the SCQF level and credit points of your qualifications help them to make this decision.
Employers are normally more likely to be interested in the SCQF level of your qualifications than the number of points achieved. However, credit points indicate the amount of learning you have achieved at an SCQF level, and will tell the employer how big the qualification is.
- helps qualification-providers describe programmes of learning that lead to qualifications and makes the relationship between qualifications clearer
- clarifies entry and exit points, and supports the development of routes to progress from qualification to qualification
- maximises opportunities to transfer credit between qualifications
- helps learners plan their learning and progress
Where will I see the SCQF?
Information about the SCQF appears on your Scottish Qualifications Certificate. Many colleges and universities mention the SCQF in their prospectus or on their website. Local authorities have been using SCQF since 2001 to report on school attainment.
Who uses the SCQF?
SQA, colleges and universities have been working with the SCQF for some years. In Scotland, universities use the SCQF to describe their qualifications and all degrees offered by universities have been placed on the Framework. This helps learners to move and progress between programmes and institutions.
What other qualifications are in the SCQF?
The Framework already includes some non-mainstream qualifications. For example, Midlothian Council has had its Crèche Worker training course placed on the Framework, and qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland and the Scottish Police College have been included in the SCQF Framework too.
Will SCQF replace qualifications like doctorates, degrees and HNC/Ds?
No. You will still be awarded a degree or a Diploma. The Framework doesn’t replace qualifications - it simply shows how one qualification broadly compares with another.
Does the SCQF award qualifications?
No. Awarding and accrediting qualifications is done by SQA and other organisations like universities, colleges, statutory and professional bodies. Additionally, colleges can credit rate their own or other organisations provisions.
Does the SCQF measure the quality of teaching?
No. That is not part of the SCQF’s purpose. The Framework is a new way of comparing and understanding Scottish qualifications. Education Scotland reviews the quality of learning and teaching in Scotland.
Does the funding that schools, colleges and universities get depend on the SCQF level of the courses they teach?
No. This is not part of the SCQF’s purpose. Funding is reviewed by other organisations such as the Scottish Funding Council, local authorities and Scottish Enterprise.
What SCQF information is shown on the Scottish Qualifications Certificate SQC?
The certificate has three sections:
- The summary of attainment, which lists all of the Group Awards, Courses and stand-alone Units that you have achieved and shows SCQF levels of the qualifications which have been credit-rated
- The detailed record of attainment gives more detail about the qualifications you’ve achieved since the last certificate was issued, and will include SCQF levels and credits
- The profiles section shows your current achievements in Core Skills and SCQF credits
Why do I need to know about the SCQF?
The SCQF can help learners to negotiate their way through the lifelong learning journey. They need to know that they can use their SCQF credit points towards new qualifications, and that there are different paths they can take. For example, many learners who have achieved an HND have used this credit towards a degree - instead of entering a university in year 1 they enter into year 2 or 3. This will become even more important as more and more qualifications are included in the Framework.
How do I work out the total SCQF credits I have?
On your Scottish Qualifications Certificate there’s a profile page that gives you a breakdown of all the credit points you have gained and their SCQF levels.
How were grades 1 – 6 in Standard Grades shown in the SCQF?
The grades 1 – 6 showed how well the learning had been achieved within one of three levels:
- grades 1 or 2 were awarded at Credit Standard Grade - SCQF level 5
- grades 3 or 4 were awarded at General Standard Grade - SCQF level 4
- grades 5 or 6 were awarded at Foundation Standard Grade - SCQF level 3
Why do grades A, B, C and D get the same number of credit points in National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher and Intermediate 1 and 2 ?
The SCQF level is a guide to the general level of knowledge and skill needed to achieve that award. The number of SCQF credit points gained doesn’t change depending on your grade - the SCQF credit points reflect how much learning you’ve achieved, not how well you’ve learned it. Your grades show how well you have done.
Does the SCQF make a difference to my exam results?
No, the SCQF has no effect on exam results. Level and credit are gained when you achieve individual Units and external assessments. The grading you get in an exam does not affect the SCQF level. Please see the above question above 'Why do grades A, B, C and D get the same number of credit points in National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher and Intermediate 1 and 2?'.
What if I sit a number of qualifications at the same level?
It makes no difference. Each individual qualification is allocated an SCQF level and you will be awarded each qualification, even if these are at the same level. For example, National 5 and Intermediate 2 are both at level 5. If you achieve these you will be awarded both qualifications and gain SCQF credit points for each. These examples have 24 credit points each, giving you 48 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 5. It’s the same if you achieve two National 5s - you get 48 points at level 5.
What support will candidates have to help them understand all of this?
All candidates receive the flyer 'About Your SQC' with their certificate. As well as explaining your results, this tells you what the SCQF is, how it works, and what it means for you.
All SQA centres (schools and colleges for example) have received a short guide to the SCQF called 'Achievement Counts', which is designed to help learners understand the SCQF. It is available to download on the SCQF website, www.scqf.org.uk. All SQA centres also have supplies of 'Your Exams' and 'About your SQC'.
Copies are also available from the SCQF office, by e-mail: email@example.com or telephone: 0141 225 2927.
All SQA Centre Co-ordinators have a Resource Pack containing copies of presentations, guides and leaflets to help explain the SQC and the SCQF to colleagues, parents and learners.
If you have any questions on the new SQC, please contact SQA’s Business Development & Customer Support Team on: 0303 333 0330 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there an easy way to see SQA qualifications in the SCQF?
Please download our Ready Reckoner of SQA qualifications in the SCQF.
Will the SCQF help candidates get a college or university place?
Not directly. Entrance into college or university is at the discretion of the institution, and normally relies on learners’ grades and subjects. However, the SCQF will help colleges and universities understand what learners have achieved. As more qualifications are allocated an SCQF level and credit points, the SCQF information will become important to the institutions to help make entry and credit transfer decisions.
Will the SCQF help candidates get a job?
Not directly, but the Framework diagram is a useful way to show potential employers what level of learning has been achieved. Work is continually being done to help employers understand how the SCQF can help them recruit the employees they need.
I have heard the terms ‘general credit’ and ‘specific credit’ being used. What does this mean?
The SCQF credit points given to a qualification are ‘general’ credit points. They don’t relate to any subject or any particular purpose - they just help people understand how qualifications relate to one another.
If the holder of an award decided to apply for a different type of qualification, he or she might be able to use some or all of the credits achieved towards the new qualification, but this would depend on the subject match. For example, an HND in Business might provide a large number of credits toward a degree in Business, but only a small number of credits towards a professional qualification in Accounting. Specific credit means credit that would count for a specific purpose - it is usually given at the discretion of the institution you’re applying to.
What if I have enough general credit points but not sufficient specific credit points for progression?
An institution may ask for a number of credits in a specific subject area at a particular SCQF level, and may ask you to supplement your learning to gain these credits. This may be at a level below or above the general credit points you already have.
Will the SCQF replace recognition for prior learning/experience?
No, but the 'SCQF Handbook' contains guidance on recognition of prior learning that may help to quantify it. This can be found on the SCQF website (www.scqf.org.uk).
Individual institutions will also have their own policies on recognition of prior learning and experience.
Do other countries have their own Frameworks?
The current Frameworks for England and Nothern Ireland are the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The HE sector has the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ). In Wales, the Credit and Qualifications framework Wales (CQFW) incorporates the NQF, QCF and HE Frameworks.
The Republic of Ireland has its own Framework, the National Framework of Qualifications for Ireland which, like the SCQF, includes general qualifications normally taken at school, vocational education and higher education.
The Qualifications can cross boundaries leaflet shows the Frameworks of the UK and how the qualifications within them roughly compare.
Additionally there is a European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The idea behind this Framework is that each European member nation will reference their Framework to the EQF. This may act as a translation device and provide a common currency by which learners and workers will be able to have their learning compared across Europe.
Do stand-alone Units have an SCQF level and credit points?
SQA Units have an SCQF level and credit points. However, not all SVQs have SCQF credit points, as they are owned by the Sector Skills Councils, which are responsible for these qualifications.
The Scottish Qualification Certificate (SQC) issued by SQA reports the level and credit points of each Unit a candidate achieves, in addition to the level of the overall qualification, to which they may contribute.
Will all SQA Group Awards be positioned on the SCQF?
Group Awards are positioned on the SCQF. However, a small number of legacy qualifications do not. These will either lapse or be replaced by SCQF credit rated qualifications.
Are SVQs given level and credit points in the SCQF?
The ready reckoner that shows the mainstream Scottish qualifications in the SCQF shows SVQs notionally positioned. The Scottish Government had previously funded a project to credit rate (the process of allocating SCQF level and SCQF credit points to be placed in the Framework) individual SVQs. This work was led by SQA and involves Sector Skills Councils (who develop the standards that SVQs are based on), and awarding bodies approved to deliver SVQs in Scotland have contributed to this work.
SVQs are made up of different Units, and because of this, the amount of credit they are awarded varies. SVQs are also made up of mandatory and optional Units, and so some people will have the same SVQ at the same level but will have a slightly different number of SCQF credit points, depending on which optional Units they completed.
Many SVQs have been credit-rated, with other SVQs being available for credit-rating as appropriate, such as when they come up for review or revision.
Will SQA quality assure our qualification/learning programme?
SQA will only quality assure the qualification/learning programme once it has been credit rated if you have signed up to our external quality assurance service. This is at an additional annual cost and is carried out by an SQA Officer.
Can a new qualification/learning programme be credit rated?
Organisations can submit an existing qualification/learning programme which learners have already taken part in, or a programme which has yet to run.
Learners in our qualification/learning programme do not sit a final exam, can this still be credit rated?
The way in which a qualification/learning programme is assessed does not affect the submission and as long as the outcomes are formally assessed, and the results recorded then it can be considered for credit rating.
Is there a charge for this service?
As this is a commercial service there is charge. For further details please contact SQA’s Credit Rating Service.
What type of credit does this process refer to?
This will result in general credit and not specific credit being allocated.
Does completing this process mean that we have been accredited?
SCQF Credit Rating will not result in accreditation or validation by SQA. SQA is the credit rating body.
What is a customised award?
Customised Awards are qualifications owned and developed by you. They allow you to decide the content and structure of the qualification with SQA providing assistance on its development, external quality assurance and certification.
Do I need to have existing training in place to create a customised award?
No. A Customised Award can be created with little or no training in place. Similarly, a Customised Award can be created if there is already training in place. A member of our Business Development Team will be able to talk you through your options.
What is the process?
Our five point process for creating a Customised Award can be reviewed on our Customised Awards process page
How long can the process take?
The process to create a Customised Award can vary, depending on the amount of work required. A member of our Business Development Team can give you more information about the length of the process depending on what you are hoping to achieve. Our experience tells us that a development can be completed in approximately 4- 6 months.
Who do I work with?
You will work with a member of our Business Development team. They will introduce you to our Specialist Awards and Services team, who will work with you to create your award. Our Business Development team member will be your first point of contact and will guide you through the process from start to finish.
What are the benefits to my business?
There are several benefits to your business for creating a Customised Award. They can include:
- Creating a truly bespoke qualification
- Accredit your own learning and obtain recognition for it
- Exclusively own your own qualification
- Help you achieve business objectives
- Increase skills levels in your workforce and improving work practices and motivation
- Assist the management and development of human resource functions
- Provide recognition and development opportunities for employees
- Help meet regulatory requirements and demonstrate the competence of your employees to external parties.
Can anyone else use my customised award?
No – not without your permission. When you create your Customised Award, you exclusively own and deliver this qualification, but you are free to allow other SQA Centres to deliver your award.
What other services are available?
What does it cost?
The costs for creating a Customised Award can vary depending on the development time, and your requirements. A member of our support team will be able to talk to you about this and give a full breakdown of costs.