Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions

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Awarding 2022 - Exceptional circumstances/appeals

Details of the exceptional circumstances and appeals services for 2022.

Centres

Whether you are a college, school, employer or training provider, our FAQs can help answer your questions.

Credit Rating

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.

Customised Awards

SQA's Customised Awards allow you to develop qualifications that are tailored to your needs.

Learners

If you are studying or thinking about taking one of our qualifications, our FAQs can answer most of your questions, especially around exam time.

National Qualifications

Answers to questions you may have about our National Qualifications that support Scotland's curriculum.

Results

Get answers to common questions we receive about results.

SCQF

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is a way of comparing the wide range of Scottish qualifications.

Your Certificate

Your Certificate and related documentation explained. and related documentation explained.

Awarding 2023

Information on modifications for 2023.

Awarding 2022 - Exceptional circumstances/appeals

What is the Appeals 2022 service?

The Appeals 2022 service involves SQA appointees – practising teachers and lecturers - reviewing alternative assessment evidence that the learner has completed through the year. SQA will also conduct a clerical check on the exam script and coursework. The service is free of charge and eligible learners can submit directly to SQA or through their school, college or training provider.

Where can I find more details on this year’s appeals service?

Information on Appeals 2022 can be found on our website at www.sqa.org.uk/appeals, including a learner booklet and general guidance.

Will SQA provide learners, parents, and carers with information on appeals?

Yes, our recent parent and carer blog is available at blogs.sqa.org.uk/qualifications2022 and we will also continue to share information for learners across social media. Appeals 2022 information for learners was published in June on www.sqa.org.uk/appeals and a hard copy of this booklet has been issued to learners.

Can learners who have been through EECCS use the Appeals 2022 service?

Learners who have undergone Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service (EECCS) consideration are excluded from the Appeals 2022 service for the same qualification. This is because EECCS includes a review of alternative evidence related to the request. However, should learners believe the EECCS process has not been followed correctly, they can appeal their EECCS result on procedural grounds through their school, college or training provider.

What if a learner has sat their exam but later informs their school, college or training provider of a circumstance that affected their exam performance?

Once the learner receives their results from SQA, if they are not happy with their grade, they may be able to submit an appeal.

Their school, college or training provider will need to submit alternative assessment evidence to SQA on the learner’s behalf.

Will SQA take different approaches to reviewing alternative assessment evidence for the exceptional circumstances and appeals services?

No, we will use the same approach for both services. The evidence will be judged against the national standard for that course.

Can a learner appeal their result if they achieve a lower grade than their estimate?

Through the Appeals 2022 service, a learner who achieves a lower grade than their estimate may be able to submit an appeal if they meet the full eligibility criteria. The learner should discuss this with their school, college or training provider first, before asking them to submit alternative assessment evidence to SQA for independent review.

Learners who have undergone EECCS consideration are excluded from the 2022 appeals service for the same qualification.

What are the potential outcomes of appeals?

In most cases, grades will go up or stay the same. However, there is a very small chance that a grade could also go down. This would only be in the event of a clerical check identifying an error that reduces the original certificated grade, and the alternative assessment evidence does not support the original certificated grade.

Is there a charge for submitting an appeal?

No, the appeals service is free of charge.

Can an appeal be withdrawn via the Learner Direct Service?

Learners can withdraw via the Learner Direct Service (as long as their school, college or training provider has not progressed their appeal to SQA) until:

  • Priority: Tuesday (11.59 pm) 16 August
  • All other appeals: Tuesday (11.59 pm) 30 August

Can a learner get evidence back after the appeal?

SQA must retain coursework and other evidence that has been used as part of an appeal for at least 12 months from the date of certification. This is in case these materials are subject to any complaints.

Learners or schools, colleges and training providers can request that coursework is returned after 12 months, on payment of a charge and by completing a request form. All details can be found on the Return of External Assessment Materials web page.

What if a learner has a conditional offer for further education or a training or employment opportunity that depends on their grade. Will appeal results be released in time?

An appeal can be prioritised if a learner has a conditional offer for university, college or training, or if an employment opportunity depends on their grade. All priority appeals must be validated by their school, college or training provider. They can tell us that they need a priority appeal when they use the learner direct service. If their school, college or training provider is submitting the appeal, learners must tell them they have a conditional offer.

Centres

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

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 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 on SQA Connect by your Centre Administrator.

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?

Please complete our Freedom of Information request form. Full details on how to make a request are available in our Access Information section.

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 mycentre@sqa.org.uk and we will put you in touch with the relevant contact.

For more information visit: How do I deliver SQA qualifications - //www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/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 aarequests@sqa.org.uk 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 am@sqa.org.uk 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.

Can material that is subject to a Post-results Services request be returned?

Material which is subject to a Post-results Services request must be retained by SQA for at least 12 months from the date of certification before it can be returned to centres. This is to enable any subsequent enquiries or complaints to be dealt with efficiently.

What are Foundation Apprenticeships?

Foundation Apprenticeships are a Skills Development Scotland (SDS) initiative, providing new, work-based learning opportunities for S5 and S6 learners. For further information visit.

Credit Rating

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.

Customised Awards

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?

You may be interested in our Credit Rating service. More information can be found by visiting www.sqa.org.uk/creditrating.

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.

Learners

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 £40.00 and this service normally takes between 2-3 weeks.

You can order your replacement certificate online at www.sqa.org.uk/eshop

The replacement certificate will show all qualifications and units you’ve achieved with us, also Core Skills, and SCQF credit points if these are applicable to your qualification(s).

How do I sign up to receive my results by email/text?

Learners studying National Qualifications can sign up to receive exam results by email and/ or text on MySQA.

You register using your Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) and activate your account once you receive the activation e-mail. After you activate your account, you will then have to select whether you wish to receive your exam results by email 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.

However, you can download Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries (886 KB) (UK) or visit UK NARIC (International).

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 candidate.records@sqa.org.uk or send them by post to the following address:

Operations
Centre Support
Fourth Floor
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Glasgow
G2 8DQ

Updating personal information - guidance for transgender learners

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 get any of my external assessment material back?

We provide a return service for non-examination material that has been submitted to us for assessment.

Before you make a request, please check with your school or college to see if materials were sent to us in the first instance.

For more information on this service, and details of how you can make a return request, please see the Request for Return of External Assessment Material page on our website.

Can I get access to my exam script?

SQA does not provide access to or copies of exam scripts, even if this is requested under Data Protection or Freedom of Information legislation.

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

A request for an examination is a request for personal information, which is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Data Protection Legislation

This legislation gives you the right to access the personal information that SQA holds about you. However, exam scripts are exempt from release.

You can find out more about your personal information on the Personal Information section on our website.

I've signed-up for MySQA, but not received my results by text or email. What's happening? 

Text and emails will be sent to candidates who have an activated MySQA account from 8 am onwards on results day. Please note that emails and texts cannot be re-sent.

If you registered to receive your results by text message or email, and have not received them, please contact your service provider.

NB If you are abroad, you will only receive a text if your phone is set up to receive messages abroad and if you have enough credit.

Check your spam/junk folder regularly, as delivery times from individual service providers may vary.

I can't see the English: Spoken Language component for National 5 English on MySQA.

This is normal. You will not see your English: Spoken Language component on MySQA. However, it is included as a recognition statement on your certificate and will say: The National 5 English Course includes a demonstration of skills in Spoken Language (Talking and Listening).

What are Foundation Apprenticeships?

Foundation Apprenticeships are a Skills Development Scotland (SDS) initiative, providing new, work-based learning opportunities for S5 and S6 learners. For further information visit.

National Qualifications

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

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 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?

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses are graded A, B, C or D. Grade D indicates that the candidate has achieved a band 7 in the course assessment, which equates to 40-49%.

Candidates who score less than 40% receive a 'No Award' result and are not awarded the course. 

SQA does not count a Grade D (band 7) as contributing to any Course or Group Award it may be part of, whether an Award, National Progression Award, National Certificate or Professional Development Award.

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. The opportunity to use Recognising Positive Achievement to gain a National 4 course award was removed at the end of session 2018-19. Ask your school or college for more information.

Any candidates who receive a 'fail' or 'No Award' result, may be able to re-sit the following year. This 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.

Results

How are National 2 to Advanced Higher courses graded?

National 2, National 3, and National 4 courses are not graded — the units that make up these course are assessed as pass or fail.

Courses at National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher are graded A-D.

Is there a fallback position for National Qualifications?

No, there is no automatic fallback, or other compensatory arrangement at any level. For example, if you fail a National 5 course, you will not automatically receive a National 4 award.

If I fail a course, can I repeat it the following year?

Yes, it is possible to repeat a National Course. However, you will need to discuss this with your school, college, or training provider first as they will make the final decision on whether to re-enter you for the course.

For National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, if you repeat the course you will also need to re-sit the full course assessment – including any exams or coursework – as your attainment from one year cannot be transferred into the following year.

For some coursework assessments, such as projects or investigations, it may be possible to use your previous research or stimulus material. However, in all cases you will need to complete a new coursework assessment.

I have been awarded a grade D - what does this mean?

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses are awarded at grades A - D. If you receive a grade D result this means you have been awarded the course and you scored between 40 and 49% in the course assessment.

Candidates who score less than 40% are not awarded a National Course and will receive a ‘No Award’ result.

Is a Grade D in a National 5 worth more than a pass at National 4?

Yes. National 5 courses (which are graded A - D) are worth 24 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 5. National 4 courses (which are not graded) are worth 24 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 4 and have a lower level of demand and challenge compared with National 5 courses.

Can I see my grade banding / component mark?

You can obtain your grade banding/component marks from your school, college or training provider. However, please note that even if your school, college or training provider has staff available during results week, those staff may not have access to this information, as banding and component marks are issued directly to your school, college or training provider's SQA Co-ordinator. We advise waiting until the start of term to ask for this information.

Why is there no grade on my certificate for my course?

National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher courses are awarded at grades A - D. All other courses and awards are awarded as pass or fail – including Skills for Work courses.

Ask your school, college or training provider which level you were entered for.

If your certificate is missing a grade for a National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher course, this means you have not achieved a grade A-D and have therefore not been awarded the course.

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, please speak to you teachers or lecturers when you return to your school, college or training provider.

Why have my National Units not been graded like my course results? Why are there no levels against my National Units?

National Units are not graded – they are assessed as pass or fail. If National Units are listed on your certificate, that means you have passed them. If they are not on your certificate, it is possible you have failed them, or that your school, college or training provider has deferred a decision on your result until you complete the evidence needed for a pass.

Some National Units do not have levels. These units are usually called 'modules' or 'short courses' and they were offered by SQA's predecessor bodies. Now, for certification purposes, we call them 'unlevelled National Units'.

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, please speak to you teachers or lecturers when you return to school, college or training provider.

What does 'No Award' mean?

Candidates who score less than 40% at National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher are not awarded a National Course and will receive a 'no award' result.

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, please speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school, college or training provider.

What is the Detailed Record of Attainment on my certificate?

The Detailed record of attainment is a full, detailed, breakdown of the course content for all the qualifications you have achieved this year. For some qualifications, it might also include a recognition statement — for example, a statement highlighting that a course was assessed and achieved through the medium of Gaelic.

What is the Summary of Attainment section of my certificate?

This part of the certificate summarises all the SQA courses, group awards and stand-alone units you have ever achieved — not just the ones you completed this year.

I have a letter saying I haven’t been successful in achieving the full award(s) in the National Course(s)

Unfortunately, this means that you have not achieved grades A-D in any of the course assessments for the National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher Courses you took this year.

SCQF

What is the SCQF and what does it do?

SCQF stands for Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. The SCQF shows how all qualifications in Scotland, such as those awarded by SQA and universities, compare with each other. There's more information on the SCQF website www.sqa.org.uk/scqf.

It supports progression or movement between different qualifications — for example:

  • how Highers (SCQF level 6) help prepare learners for HNC/HND (SCQF level 7/8) or university degree courses (beginning at SCQF level 7 and awarding at SCQF levels 9 or 10)
  • how 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 SCQF levels, with level 1 being the least demanding (the introductory level of qualification) and level 12 the most demanding (for example, PhDs).

SCQF level 7 is the starting point of the higher education levels on the framework.

How do SCQF credit points work? What do they mean?

SCQF 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, university or training, it also includes self-directed learning — study at home or the library.

One SCQF credit point represents a notional 10 hours of learning. So, for example, if you achieve a Higher course (SCQF level 6) with 24 SCQF credits, you will have done about 240 hours of learning.

Why is SCQF information shown on the certificate?

The SCQF has been used in Scotland's schools, colleges and universities for over 16 years, and employers are increasingly aware of it. With more and more qualifications being placed on 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 helps employers understand how your qualifications compare to other qualifications.

SCQF information also helps people outside of Scotland to compare Scottish qualifications to qualifications on their own frameworks.

Are SCQF credit points the same as UCAS tariff points?

No, SCQF credit points do not relate to UCAS tariff points. UCAS tariff points are designed solely for deciding how useful a qualification is for progression into higher education. They take account of the type of qualification and the grade achieved.

By contrast, SCQF credit points measure how much learning needs to be done at a certain level 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.

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.

The SCQF:

  • 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: s.houtenfeeley@scqf.org.uk 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: mycentre@sqa.org.uk

Is there an easy way to see SQA qualifications in the SCQF?

Please download our Ready Reckoner (134 KB) 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 (886 KB) 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.

Your Certificate

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 university offer conditions. What should I do?

If you didn't get the results you were hoping for, or you did better than you expected, the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) will be happy to speak to you, and give you some guidance on what to do next.

UCAS contact details:

Telephone number:     0371 468 0468

Facebook                    facebook.com/ucasonline

Twitter                         @ucas_online

Operational hours:      Monday - Friday, 08:30 am - 6.00 pm.
Address:                      UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ

Looking for careers advice?

If you're looking for career's advice, please call the Skills Development Scotland Results Helpline, where qualified careers advisors will be on hand to offer you advice, and to discuss clearing vacancies, and alternative options.

Skills Development Scotland Results Helpline

Telephone number:     0808 100 8000
Web:                             www.myworldofwork.co.uk/examresults
Operational period:     04 - 11 August 2020
Opening hours:           Tue 4 & Wed 5 August         8am - 8pm
                                      Thu 6  & Fri 7  August          9am - 5pm
                                      Mon 10 & Tue 11 August      9am - 5pm

My certificate is damaged — can I get a new one? 

If your certificate has been damaged in the post, your school or college can request a new one for you. Speak to you teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college.

My name has been spelled incorrectly.

If there is an error on your certificate, your school or college can request a new one for you. Speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college and ask them to request a new one on your behalf.

There are results missing from my certificate.

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college.

Your school or college will look into this for you. SQA will only send you an updated certificate once the school or college provides us with the necessary information.

Why have I received two certificates with different information on them?

You may have two different Scottish Candidate Numbers linked to your name. This could have happened if you have recently changed your name, or you've been studying at different centres where a new Scottish Candidate Number has been generated

Take both certificates to your school or college and ask them to contact SQA. We will then merge the information together on a single certificate.

Can I have something removed from my certificate?

We can only amend your certificate if there has been an error. If you think there has been an error, speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college.

I successfully completed the National 4 Added Value. Why is it not on my certificate?

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see speak to you teachers / lecturers when you return to school or college. Your school or college will look into this for you. SQA will only send you an updated certificate once the school or college provides us with the necessary information.

If your school/college has registered you for the Added Value Unit, and submitted your results, it will be recorded under the National Units section of the certificate under: [subject area] Assignment SCQF Level 4.

I have received a letter saying I have not been successful in achieving the full award(s) in the National Course(s). What does that mean? 

This means that you have not been awarded an A-D grade in one or more of the National Courses you did this year.

Any National Units you have achieved will be recorded on a separate certificate.

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college.

I sat my qualifications in Gaelic — does this make any difference?

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.

The following subjects are awarded by SQA through the medium of Gaelic:

  • National 3 / National 4 / National 5: Applications of Mathematics
  • National 3 / National 4 / National 5: Geography, Modern Studies, History
  • National 4 / National 5: Mathematics
  • Higher: Geography, Modern Studies, History, Mathematics
  • Advanced Higher: Geography, Modern Studies, History, Mathematics

MySQA

If you signed-up for and activated a MySQA account, the qualifications you achieved through the medium of Gaelic will be displayed in Gaelic in the text message, and in the email you receive.

SCQF points

Qualifications undertaken through the medium of Gaelic have the same number of SCQF points as their equivalent in English.

UCAS tariff

Qualifications undertaken through the medium of Gaelic also have the same number of UCAS points as their equivalent in English.

Why are the Gaelic medium course titles not listed on my certificate?

All Gaelic medium course and unit / element titles will be reported in Gaelic on your certificate.

This includes the exam code element in the detailed record of attainment. If you do not complete the course, or receive no award, you will still see the units/elements that you have attained. These will be reported in Gaelic.

Qualification titles and units/elements that appear in Gaelic on the certificate will be followed by an English translation in brackets. There will also be a recognition statement (in English) on your detailed record of attainment to indicate that the course was assessed and attained through the medium of Gaelic (if you achieve the complete course award).

If you're missing results, or there are results listed that you weren't expecting to see, speak to your teachers or lecturers when you return to school or college.

Why does my certificate not have the correct Gaelic spelling (eg grave accents).

Unfortunately, some characters used in Gaelic cannot be printed on your results certificate. We are reviewing this as part of our Gaelic Language Plan commitments.

Can I order a replacement certificate in Gaelic?

Replacement certificates can be ordered via the Replacement Certificate Service. 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 these skills.

The five core skills are:

  • Communication
  • Numeracy
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Problem Solving
  • Working with Others

Why do the core skills I've been awarded not show on my certificate at the same level as my course and unit achievements?

Don't worry, the Core Skills that are built into our qualifications are not always at the same level as the course or unit itself.

For more information about this, speak to your teachers or lecturers at your school or college, or visit the Core Skills page on our website (www.sqa.org.uk/coreskills)

Awarding 2023

How will National Courses be assessed in session 2022-23?

The modifications to assessment that are currently in place for each National Course will remain in full for session 2022-23.

This applies to National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, and some National 3 courses that already have modifications to assessment in place.

Summary table for 2022-23 modifications

What are 'modifications to course assessment' and why were they put in place?

We made changes to the assessment of National Courses at the start of session 2020-21 (which we refer to as ‘modifications’) in response to the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The modifications were designed to help reduce the volume of assessment and ease the workload of learners, teachers, and lecturers.

Depending on the course, these modifications included:

  • removing an exam or an item of coursework
  • removing or reducing elements of an exam and/or coursework
  • providing more choice in an assessment
  • removing a topic or topics from the exam
  • providing advance notice of topics, contexts or content that will or will not be directly assessed*

For most courses, these modifications remained in place for session 2021-22 – though for some courses, we adjusted the modifications to respond to changes in public health guidance or to support opportunities for learners to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. The current types of modifications will remain in place for session 2022-23.

Summary table for 2022-23 modifications

*Our qualification teams will review the topics, contexts or content that will or will not be directly assessed in session 2022-23 and we will provide more information on this in due course.

Why are you keeping the modifications to assessment in full for all National Courses?

Keeping the modifications to assessment for all courses will help to provide stability and support to learners, teachers, lecturers, and other practitioners delivering National Courses. This is important given the ongoing disruption to learning and teaching, and the varying impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on learners in different parts of the country.

If the modifications to assessment are staying in place for session 2022-23, does this mean there is no requirement to teach the full course content?

These are modifications to assessment only. There is no change to the content of National Courses, so teachers and lecturers should continue to deliver the full course content with their learners where possible. It is important that learners have opportunities to develop and demonstrate the required skills, knowledge and understanding from across the whole course, as outlined in the course specification document for each course. This will support learners as they progress to the next stage in their learning.

Do learners need to complete National 4 added value units in session 2022-23?

No. We removed the requirement for learners to complete National 4 added value units in sessions 2020-21 and 2021-22, in response to the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will continue for session 2022-23 to help free up more time for learning and teaching, and for assessing other units in National 4 courses, where this is needed.

While there is no requirement for learners to complete the added value unit in session 2022-23, it is still important that learners have opportunities to develop and demonstrate the required skills, knowledge and understanding from across the course that are outlined in the National 4 added value unit specification. This will support learners as they progress to further learning and assessment at SCQF level 5.

What did SQA consider when first putting the modifications to assessment in place and when reviewing the modifications for sessions 2021-22 and 2022-23?

We adopted a principles-driven approach to identify the modifications to assessment in each course. The core principles are:

  • Fairness to all learners
  • Safe and secure certification of qualifications, while following the latest public health advice.
  • Maintaining the integrity and credibility of the qualification system, ensuring that learners can have confidence in the continued high standards they have worked hard to achieve. This is important for those who hold qualificataions now, for those who will achieve them in the future and for further and higher education establishments and employers.

How did you gather the views of learners, teachers, lecturers, parents, and carers on whether the modifications should stay in place for session 2022-23?

We ran a series of 'pulse surveys' to give us a picture of the current views of teachers and lecturers, learners, parents, and carers. We also surveyed members of our Learner Panel, which represents the views of young people, and members of our National Qualification Support Teams and subject networks (groups of stakeholders, including practicing teachers and lecturers, who provide us with feedback on the assessments for each course). We also sought expert advice from SQA's advisory council, which has membership drawn from across the education sector, including head teachers, and representatives from universities, colleges, and training providers.

Find out more about SQA's advisory council.

Will you remove the modifications to assessment from session 2023-24 onwards?

We are continuing to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic carefully and are working with the National Qualifications Steering Group on arrangements for assessing National Qualifications in session 2022-23.

It is too early to confirm whether we will return to full course specifications in session 2023-24, however we will carefully consider this as we progress through session 2022-23. We will continue to gather the views of teachers, lecturers, learners, parents and carers, and the groups that represent them.

How can I help to shape future decisions about qualifications and assessment?

SQA is keen to hear your views and has set up panels of teaching professionals, learners, parents, and carers to gain a picture of what different groups think about important issues.

Find out how to get involved.

How will Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) be assessed in session 2022-23?

The current alternative assessment approaches for Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) will continue for session 2022-23.

View the alternative assessment approaches.

These alternative assessment approaches have been in place since 2020 to assist centres with the impact of COVID-19, enabling staff and learners to focus on learning and teaching while safeguarding the integrity of assessment and qualifications.

To which qualifications do the alternative assessment approaches for HNVQ apply?

These arrangements apply to the following qualifications:

  • Higher National Certificates and Diplomas
  • SQA Advanced Certificates and Diplomas
  • Professional Development Awards
  • National Progression Awards
  • National Certificates
  • Skills for Work
  • Awards
  • internally assessed free-standing National Units and centre-devised courses comprising clusters of SQA units

What about regulated qualifications?

The alternative assessment approaches for HNVQ do not apply to regulated units and group awards, such as Scottish Vocational Qualifications and VQ units. For qualifications regulated by SQA Accreditation or Ofqual, centres should consult directly with the regulators' websites.