National Qualifications

NQ StudentsOver the last three years, we have been introducing new National Qualifications to schools and colleges in Scotland to support Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

As of August 2015, all new National 1 to Advanced Higher qualifications are available and the previous National Qualifications have been replaced.


Our National Qualifications aim to prepare young people for further education, training or employment.

Implementing the new National Qualifications

The roll-out of the new National Qualifications continued in 2014–15, with the introduction of the new Higher Courses.

We also developed and published the following assessment support materials for the new Advanced Higher Courses, to help teachers and lecturers prepare their learners for the new assessments.

In addition to this, from January to April 2015 we hosted 86 Advanced Higher Subject Implementation events for teachers across Scotland. The new Advanced Higher Courses were then introduced in August 2015.

Advanced Higher assessment support materials produced in 2014–15


No. published

Unit assessment support


Specimen Question Papers


Use of past paper guidance


Coursework information


Total no. of documents



2014–15 was the final year that the previous Access, Intermediate and Higher qualifications were available. These qualifications have now been replaced by the new National 1 to Advanced Higher qualifications.

Throughout 2014–15, the previous Access 1 to Higher qualifications were available alongside the new National 1 to Higher qualifications. Local authorities, schools and colleges were given the option of choosing which Higher to enter their candidates for, which resulted in significant variations in entry patterns for Higher qualifications.

Diet 2015

As a result of the dual-running of both new and previous Higher Courses, the number of Higher exams that took place during the main diet increased significantly.

Exams in Diet 2015

Total no. of exams


No. of individual question papers (eg for subjects where the exam consists of two or more question papers)



Higher exams in Diet 2015

Total no. of Higher exams


Total no. of individual Higher question papers


No. of exams for previous Higher Courses


No. of individual question papers for previous Higher Courses


No. of exams for new Higher Courses


No. of individual question papers for new Higher Courses


Further support for schools and colleges

In response to feedback from schools and colleges, we provided additional support to help them with the implementation of the new National Qualifications.

Understanding Standards

In August 2014, we commenced our three-year Understanding Standards programme for the new National Qualifications, to help teachers develop their understanding of the standards required for assessment. In 2014–15, we ran a total of 89 subject-based Understanding Standards events for teachers and lecturers.

Continuing professional development training

Throughout 2014–15, we offered subject-based continuing professional development (CPD) training for teachers in local authorities and independent schools, and for college lecturers. These training events were delivered subject to requests, and a total of 317 events took place between August 2014 and June 2015.