Assessment in National Qualifications

Classroom Assessment

Changes to assessment in National Courses from 2017-18 onwards

In September 2016, the Deputy First Minister announced that units and unit assessments would be removed from National 5 to Advanced Higher courses. The units and unit assessments will be removed from these courses on a phased basis over three years.

View more information on the changes to assessment in National Courses.

More information on how the qualifications are currently assessed is provided below.

National 1 units

National 1 units are assessed through the work that learners do in class and this is marked by the teacher as pass or fail.

National 2 and National 3 courses

National 2 and National 3 courses are made up of units (areas of study) that are taught throughout the year. For each unit, learners are assessed on the work they do in class and this is marked by the teacher or lecturer as pass or fail. National 2 and National 3 courses are assessed as pass or fail and learners need to pass all units to achieve the course.

National 4 courses

National 4 courses are made up of units (areas of study) that are taught throughout the year. For each unit, learners are assessed on the work they do in class and this is marked by the teacher or lecturer as pass or fail. Learners also complete an Added Value Unit assessment that assesses the skills, knowledge and understanding they have developed throughout the whole course. This involves completing an assignment, performance, test or practical activity that is marked by the teacher or lecturer as pass or fail.

National 4 courses are assessed as pass or fail and to achieve the course, learners need to pass all units plus the Added Value Unit assessment. 

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses are made up of units (areas of study) that are taught throughout the year. For each unit, learners are assessed on the work they do in class and this is marked by the teacher or lecturer as pass or fail. 

Learners also complete a course assessment that assesses the knowledge, understanding and skills they have developed throughout the whole course. For most courses this involves an exam and an item of coursework, however some courses are assessed by exam only or coursework only. For courses that involve assessment through coursework, the item of coursework will be appropriate to the subject. This will be an assignment, performance, project, practical activity or portfolio. The majority of coursework is marked externally by SQA, however coursework in some subjects is marked internally by the teacher or lecturer. Exams are marked externally by SQA.

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses are graded A to D or 'no award', and to achieve the course, learners need to pass all units plus the course assessment. 

More information

Subject-specific assessment information can be found in the course documents for each subject:

Access the course documents from our subject pages (select by subject and level).

The About National Qualifications section contains more detailed information on our approach to assessment in National Qualifications:

Visit About National Qualifications.