All National Courses are made up of Units (areas of study) that are taught throughout the year. For each Unit, learners complete a Unit assessment that is assessed as pass or fail. Further information on how each of the new qualifications are assessed is given below.
National 1, National 2 and National 3
National 1, National 2 and National 3 are assessed through Unit assessments only. The Unit assessments are marked internally by the teacher or lecturer and assessed as pass or fail, and learners need to pass all Units to achieve the qualification.
These qualifications are not graded, but are assessed as pass or fail.
National 4 Courses are assessed through Unit assessments, including an Added Value Unit assessment that assesses the Course as a whole. The Unit assessments, including the Added Value Unit assessment, are marked internally by the teacher or lecturer and assessed as pass or fail. To achieve a National 4 qualification, learners need to pass all Unit assessments in the Course, including the Added Value Unit assessment.
National 4 is not graded, but is assessed as pass or fail.
National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher
National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Courses are assessed through Unit assessments and a Course assessment. The Course assessment consists of a question paper (exam) or coursework (assignments, portfolios, practical activities etc), or both.
Unit assessments are marked internally by the teacher or lecturer and assessed as pass or fail. For the Course assessment, we will externally mark all question papers and the majority of coursework, however; in some subjects, coursework will be marked internally by the school or college as it is in the existing National Courses.
Courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher are graded A to D or ‘No Award’. To achieve the qualification, learners need to pass all Unit assessments plus the Course assessment.
The following seven approved assessment methods may be used for both Unit and Course assessment (with the exception of question papers, as these are only used for Course assessment).
Assignments, case studies, portfolios, projects, practical activities and performances are also referred to as coursework.
An assignment is a problem-solving exercise with clear guidelines and structure. It is a written assessment, usually in the form of a report or an essay.
Assignments provide opportunities for candidates to demonstrate their practical skills, knowledge and understanding.
A case study is an event based on a realistic situation, which is normally presented as a piece of text, an image or an audio/visual recording. Candidates are given a series of instructions which prompt them to analyse the situation; drawing conclusions, making decisions or supporting courses of action.
Case studies provide opportunities for candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
A practical activity is any activity that allows learners to demonstrate their practical skills. It normally involves making or building something. Candidates may be assessed on the end result of (the finished product), how they carry out the activity (the process) or both.
A performance is a practical demonstration of candidates’ skills that is well-suited to subjects like Music or Drama, although it can also be used to assess physical activities in subjects like Dance or Physical Education, or spoken activities in other subjects
A portfolio (sometimes referred to as a ‘folio’) is a representative collection of a candidate’s work, which is usually put together throughout the Course. It showcases their best work - such as written work or artwork - and it can also be used to provide examples of work which show that a range of criteria has been met
A project is a task that requires the candidate to carry out research or investigation of a particular topic or area - often one of their choosing. Projects may involve candidates carrying out a large amount of work independently, without close supervision, however the teacher or lecturer may provide guidance and support.
Classroom-based tests are used in National 1 to National 4, where appropriate. They are assessed internally by the teacher or lecturer.
Question papers (exams) are part of the Course assessment from National 5 to Advanced Higher. They are assessed externally by SQA.
Question papers / tests provide opportunities to assess candidates' knowledge, understanding and cognitive skills (eg attention, memory, decision making, reasoning, and problem solving).