Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Browse FAQs on...

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Latest information and advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19)


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

National Qualifications

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

Your SQC

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.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have created dedicated FAQs on the impact of coronavirus on our services:

Coronavirus FAQs

For further guidance and support, please see:


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 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?

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 and we will put you in touch with the relevant contact.

For more information visit: How do I deliver SQA qualifications - //

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 Support materials for unit assessments and coursework are held on our secure website at

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 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 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.


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

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:

Replacement Certificates
Scottish Qualifications Authority
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
G2 8DQ

Or, if you have completed the form electronically and are paying by credit/debit card, you can e-mail it to us at

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 e-mail. 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.

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 or send them by post to the following address:

Centre Support
Fourth Floor
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
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
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 understand that the materials your school or college sent us as part of your assessment might be of special value to you. Recordings, artwork, and written pieces that you have produced may not be easy to re-create. For this reason, we provide a service to send non-examination material submitted to us for assessment back to you.

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

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 not received my results by text or e-mail?

Text and e-mails containing exam results will be sent to candidates who have an activated MySQA account from 8.00 am on Tuesday 4 August 2020. Please note that e-mails and texts cannot be resent.

a) Have you registered for a MySQA account?

If No, you will not receive a text or e-mail.

If Yes, please go to b).

b) Did you activate your MySQA account?

If No, you will not receive a text or e-mail.

If Yes, please go to c).

c) Did you sign up to receive your result by text?

If No, you will not receive a text or e-mail.

If Yes, please go to d).

d) Have you studied for National Courses, National 5, Highers or Advanced Highers during 2019–20?

If No, you will not receive results by text and/or e-mail. This service is only available to candidates who have sat a National Course.

If Yes, please contact your service provider. Texts and e-mails with exam results are sent out to candidates who have an activated account from 8.00 am on Tuesday 4 August 2020.

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.

e) It’s 8.10 am and I still haven’t received my e-mail.

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

f) 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 appear as follows:

The National 5 English Course includes a demonstration of skills in Spoken Language (Talking and Listening)

When will MySQA re-open?

MySQA will re-open on Wednesday 7 August at 9.00 am.

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

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
6 Higher (new) > Higher
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 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.


Your SQC

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. Can you advise me what I should do?

Further Education

The Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is happy to speak to any applicants in this situation.

UCAS contact details:

  • Telephone number: 0371 468 0468
  • E-mail:
  • Address: UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ

Careers advice

Please call the Skills Development Scotland Exam Results Helpline. Qualified Careers Advisors will be on hand to offer careers advice, and to discuss clearing vacancies and alternative options.

Skills Development Scotland Exam Results Helpline contact details:

  • Telephone number: 0808 100 8000
  • Opening hours: the helpline will open from 8am on Tuesday 4 August 2020

I haven't received my certificate, how can I find out my results?

a) Has the mail been delivered?

If No, remember that there may be a delay, due to the volume of mail. Wait until you know that the post has been delivered in your area.

b) Did you register to receive your results by text and/or e-mail?

If Yes, you will have received notification of your results. Please check your spam and junk folder, or contact your service provider. Contact your school/college when the new term starts to arrange for another certificate to be sent.

If No, please be patient and wait until the post has been delivered in your area.

My certificate is damaged.

Please contact your school or college when it re-opens, and they will arrange for a new certificate to be issued on your behalf if your certificate is damaged.

My name has been spelled incorrectly.

SQA uses the details your school/college supplies us with. Please contact your school after the holidays and ask them to update/amend your details and advise us to arrange for a replacement certificate to be sent to you.

There are results missing from my certificate.

Please contact your school after the holidays to discuss your missing result. The school will look into this and amend your record accordingly. SQA will only send you an updated certificate once the school enters and submits results for the missing unit(s).

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

The most likely explanation for receiving two certificates 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?

No, this is not possible. Your certificate is a record of all your achievements. Items can only be removed if they have been included in error. If you think something has been included by mistake, you should contact your school or college who will liaise with us to resolve the matter.

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

SQA has issued your certificate based on the information your school/college sent us. If the Added Value is missing from your certificate you will need to contact your centre.

If your school/college has registered you, the Added Value will be located under the National Units section as follows; [subject area] Assignment’ SCQF Level 4.

I have received a letter stating I have not been successful in achieving the full award(s) in the National Course(s) that I sat this year.

This mean that you have not attained grades A–D in any of your external exams for the National Courses you sat this year.

If you have passed any National Units, you will receive a separate certificate for these. Please speak to your school or college for further clarification and advice.

Certificate in Gaelic

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

This year, each candidate who has undertaken subject examinations through the medium of Gaelic will receive a single certificate displaying these qualification titles in Gaelic.

At present, the following subjects are available from SQA through the medium of Gaelic:

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


Qualifications achieved through the medium of Gaelic will be displayed in Gaelic in the abbreviated text message and the e-mails that candidates receive (if they have signed up for MySQA).

SCQF points

A qualification undertaken through the medium of Gaelic will attract the same number of SCQF points as its equivalent in English.

UCAS tariff

A qualification undertaken through the medium of Gaelic will attract the same number of UCAS points as its equivalent in English.

I sat my exams in Gaelic but the course title does not appear on my certificate.

Course titles and all units/elements attained through the medium of Gaelic will be reported in Gaelic on the certificate. This includes the exam code element in the detailed record of attainment. Candidates who do not complete the external assessment (exam), or who fail it, will still see the units/elements they 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 the detailed record of attainment to indicate that the course was assessed and attained through the medium of Gaelic. The recognition statement will not appear if the candidate achieves only units/elements or only the external assessment, ie does not achieve the complete course award.

Please contact your school/college to discuss further any questions you may have about not completing the course or failing the external assessment.

My certificate does not contain the correct Gaelic spelling (eg grave accents).

The Scottish Qualifications Certificate will display the subject and any associated units/elements in Gaelic. Due to restrictions with system functionality at this stage, we are unable to produce certain characters, such as grave accents. This is however, under review 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.

Core Skills

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?

This is perfectly normal. As described in the Profiles section of this guide, 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 — the units that make up the course are assessed as pass or fail.

Courses at National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher are graded A–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 the units (where applicable) in the course and have achieved a band 7 in the course assessment, which equates to:

  • Higher and National 5 — between 40 and 49%
  • Advanced Higher — between 45 and 49%

Candidates who score less than 40% for Higher and National 5, or less than 45% for Advanced Higher, are not awarded a National Course and will receive a no award result.

Can I see my grade banding / component mark?

Grade banding/component marks can only be obtained from your school/college. Please note, however, that even if your school/college has staff available during certification week, they may not have access to this information, as banding and component marks are issued directly to your school's or college's SQA Co-ordinator - we would advise waiting until the start of term for this information.

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, 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; the units that make up the course are internally assessed as pass or fail.

If your certificate is missing a grade for a Higher or National 5 National course, this would mean that you have not achieved a grade A–D in the course assessment.

To achieve a Higher English or National 5 English course, you must pass the compulsory English: Spoken Language component, plus the course assessment. Look under the heading for the National Unit; if the title of the course is showing (eg X824 76 English: External Assessment), a pass result has not been submitted.

To achieve the course award at Advanced Higher, 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 title of the course is showing (eg X721 77 Drama: External Assessment), either one or more unit results are missing or you have failed a unit. Please contact 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 units 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 the month after we receive your unit results.

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 internally assessed as pass or fail. If they are listed on your certificate, then you have passed them. If they are not on your certificate, it is possible you have failed them or that 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, called 'modules' or 'short courses', which were offered by SQA’s predecessor bodies. Now, for certification purposes, we call them 'unlevelled National Units'.

What does ‘Exam Only’ mean on my certificate?

‘Exam Only’ means that you have passed the Advanced Higher course assessment, but you have not passed all the units required to achieve the overall course award.

For English Higher and English National 5 courses, a pass result must be submitted for the compulsory English: Spoken Language component.

What does ‘no award’ mean on the letter that accompanies my certificate?

For Higher and National 5 courses (excluding English), ‘no award’ indicates that you have achieved band 8 or 9 in the course assessment.

For Advanced Higher courses, ‘no award’ in the grade column indicates that you have passed all of the contributing units and achieved band 8 or 9 in the course assessment.

For English Higher and English National 5 courses, ‘no award’ indicates that you have passed the compulsory English: Spoken Language component, and achieved band 8 or 9 in the course assessment.

I’ve received a letter stating that I’ve not been successful in achieving the full award(s) in the National Course(s) that I sat this year.

This means that you have not attained grades A–D in any of the external exams for the National Courses you sat this year.

If you have passed any National Units that are part of the course(s), you will receive a separate certificate for these. Please speak to your school or college for further clarification and advice.


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 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), or 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 difficult (introductory level of qualification) and level 12 the most demanding (eg 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 — ie 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 undertaken 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, increasingly, helps employers understand how your qualifications compare to other qualifications. It also helps people outside of Scotland to understand Scottish qualifications, as they will use certain tools to align or benchmark them to qualifications within their own qualifications 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 determining how useful a qualification is for progression into higher education. They are allocated according to the type of qualification and the grade achieved. By contrast, SCQF credit points are a measure of how much learning needs to be done at a certain level 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, All SQA centres also have supplies of 'Your Exams' and 'About your SQC'. 

Copies are also available from the SCQF office, by e-mail: 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:

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

Please download our Ready Reckoner (94 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 (

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.

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

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.