Results for National Courses and Awards 2016

  • First year all schools and colleges offering full range of National Qualifications as part of Curriculum for Excellence. Smooth transition to new Higher and Advanced Higher
  • More candidates achieving Awards, Skills for Work, National Progression Awards and National Certificates
  • More than 50,000 candidates receiving their results by text and/or e-mail

The Scottish Qualifications Authority announces the results for National Courses and Awards 2016 today (Tuesday 9 August 2016).

Results certificates have been sent to 140,055 candidates across Scotland. Candidates have been rewarded for completing coursework, exams and unit assessments for the 2015-16 academic year in a wide range of qualifications and subjects at levels to suit all learners.

These qualifications and subjects include Access, Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers for candidates in schools and colleges. In addition, a range of Awards, Skills for Work, National Progression Awards and National Certificates are also being certificated today. Attainment in many of these awards has increased in 2016, and these are part of a broadening of the curriculum and also support the implementation of Developing the Young Workforce (DYW). Throughout the year the SQA also awards a number of other qualifications such as SVQs, HNCs and HNDs which support the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy.

This is the first year that all schools and colleges have offered the new Higher to candidates, following last year’s phased introduction and is the first year of the new Advanced Higher.

There continue to be variations in presentation patterns and the mix of qualifications taken by candidates.

Consequently, year-on-year comparisons and comparisons between current and previous qualifications remain complex.

Summary of entries, attainment and attainment rates for each National Qualification type, 2016 and 2015.

SCQF level National Qualification 2016 Entries 2016 Attainment 2016 Attainment Rate 2015 Entries 2015 Attainment 2015 Attainment Rate
SCQF 2 National 2† 2,449 1,849 75.5% 1,865 1,488 79.8%
  Access 2† 20 19 95.0% 104 48 46.2%
SCQF 3 National 3† 18,475 16,659 90.2% 17,268 15,756 91.2%
  Access 3† 3 3 100% 3,340 3,184 95.3%
SCQF 4 National 4† 122,961 114,635 93.2% 130,876 122,071 93.3%
  Intermediate 1* - - - 1,553 1,170 75.3%
SCQF 5 National 5* 295,083 234,160 79.4% 288,016 229,870 79.8%
  Intermediate 2* - - - 10,678 7,828 73.3%
SCQF 6 Higher* 197,774 152,701 77.2% 107,295 85,019 79.2%
  Previous Higher* - - - 92,555 70,981 76.7%
SCQF 7 Advanced Higher* 23,795 19,443 81.7% - - -
  Previous Advanced Higher* - - - 23,348 18,899 80.9%
  Scottish Baccalaureate* 140 103 73.6% 122 98 80.3%
Total   660,700     677,020    

* For Intermediate, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher, which are graded, the attainment and attainment rate is based on Grade A-C attainment.

† For Access, National 2- National 4, courses, which are ungraded, the attainment and attainment rate is based on entries which have resulted in a pass.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA's chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said:

“On behalf of everyone at SQA, I would like to congratulate the thousands of candidates being recognised for their hard work and achievements today. I would also like to recognise and pay tribute to the teachers, lecturers, parents and carers for their support and commitment.

“This is the first year candidates will have been offered the full range of National Courses as part of Curriculum for Excellence. These results are testament to the dedication of the entire Scottish education system, working in partnership for the benefit of our young people.

“The new qualifications are performing well and the results clearly are enabling young people to transition between the levels and develop a wider range of skills. It is important to recognise the different paths candidates can take to achieve success, whether it be in National Courses, Skills for Work or National Progression Awards. Our flexible qualifications, which are accessible to a broad range of candidates, provide opportunities for further training, study or employment. The breadth of our qualifications also allows candidates to decide, with their teachers and lecturers, which qualifications and levels to pursue, depending on what is right for them.

“SQA would also like to pay special tribute to the 15,000 ‘appointees’ – teachers, lecturers and subject specialists - who work with us, and play a significant role in monitoring, marking and quality-assuring our assessments.”


The new Advanced Higher English was introduced this year, with an A-C attainment rate of 80.9%, building on the Higher and National 5. Entries at Higher have increased, candidates engaged well with the assessments and there was strong performance across the full marks range with an A-C attainment rate of 78.8%.

At National 5, candidates continued to perform well. Attainment is very similar to last year at 86.8%.


The new Advanced Higher Mathematics was introduced this year with an A-C attainment rate of 73.8%. The A-C attainment rate for Higher Maths was 73.5%.

The National 5 Mathematics question paper performed as intended with candidates achieving an A-C attainment rate of 63.2%, an increase from 2015. National 5 Lifeskills Mathematics had an attainment rate of 35.8%.

New qualifications

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) represents a different approach to learning and assessment and in the way education is delivered. This fresh approach to learning has required new assessment methods and qualifications to ensure continuity of learning and assessment as young people have moved from their broad general education through to their senior phase.

In designing the new qualifications SQA’s key aim has been to help schools and colleges prepare young people to be successful in this fast changing world and to give them the confidence to use their skills and knowledge to tackle new challenges.

The new qualifications provide a balance of skills and knowledge and with more flexible assessment that allows teachers more scope to ensure that assessment supports the learning.

The new Advanced Higher has been implemented this year, with an overall 81.7% A-C attainment rate.

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications include final exams and course assessments to allow candidates to demonstrate a broad range of skills and knowledge.

In addition to the Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers, SQA provides a suite of qualifications that meet a wider range of learners’ interest and abilities, including awards in areas such as leadership, employability, personal finance, as well as a range of Skills for Work courses. These are part of a broadening of the curriculum and also support the implementation of Developing the Young Workforce.

This wide range of qualifications will help young people reach their full potential as they progress from their broad general education through to college, university, apprenticeships, other learning, training and employment.

We will continue to support schools and colleges in the 2016-17 session, by delivering a comprehensive range of events to help the understanding of standards.

SQA Awards

For the fourth year attainment figures are included in the statistics for SQA Awards. In total, 21,904 Awards have been achieved.

SQA Awards are designed to develop and provide evidence of specific skills that will help learners in the world of work and everyday life. Awards include Modern Languages for Life and Work, Employability, Scottish Studies and Enterprise.

National Progression Awards (NPAs) and National Certificates (NCs)

For the third year, attainment figures are included for National Progression Awards (NPAs) and National Certificates (NCs). In total, 11,739 NPAs and 9,412 NCs have been achieved.

NPAs are designed to assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, such as Construction and Childcare.

National Certificates are designed to prepare people for employment, career development or progression to more advanced study in areas such as Sound Production and Fabrication and Welding Engineering.

  2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
SCQF level 1          
Awards 283 207 178 152 -
SCQF level 2          
Awards 750 493 301 130 22
National Progression Awards 77 64 101 121 87
SCQF level 3          
Awards 3,863 3,205 2,263 1,216 563
National Certificates 18 7 17 6 4
National Progression Awards 135 119 161 129 141
SCQF level 4          
Awards 11,391 9,673 7,887 4,542 2,177
National Certificates 371 273 89 130 167
National Progression Awards 4,958 4,336 4,111 4,153 3,788
SCQF level 5          
Awards 2,907 1,952 1,514 578 199
National Certificates 4,103 3,219 2,582 2,454 2,360
National Progression Awards 4,958 4,120 4,206 3,685 3,448
SCQF level 6          
Awards 2,710 1,305 801 588 419
National Certificates 4,920 3,989 2,729 2,664 3,025
National Progression Awards 1,611 969 701 554 463
TOTAL 43,055 33,931 27,641 21,102 16,863

Skills for Work & Personal Development

Skills for Work and Personal Development courses – available across SCQF levels 2-6, are also included in the statistics. In total, 8,513 Skills for Work and Personal Development courses have been achieved.

Skills for Work courses focus on the world of work and the generic employability skills needed for success in the workplace. The courses offer opportunities for learners to acquire these critical generic employability skills through a variety of practical experiences that are linked to a particular vocational area such as construction, hairdressing, hospitality.

Young people taking one of these Skills for Work Courses will normally spend some of their time at a local college, other training provider or employer.

Personal Development courses aim to help learners become ready for employment, and contribute as independent members of society through the development of transferable life skills. The courses encourage candidates to build a range of personal, social and vocational skills such as evaluating, planning, reviewing, managing tasks and working with others. In 2016, the Personal Development courses have become part of our Awards provision.

  2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Entries 10,008 11,883 12,065 11,617 10,781
Attainment 8,513 9,980 9,465 9,198 7,986
Attainment rate 85.1% 84.0% 78.5% 79.2% 74.1%




Candidates with active MySQA accounts will receive their results by text message and/or by email from 8am on Tuesday 9 August. This year, 52,474 candidates have opted for this service, a 18.7% increase from last year (2015 - 44,190 candidates). All candidates will receive their certificates by post.

2016 results

In academic year 2015-16, there are a number of National Courses (National 2 to National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers) as well as Awards, National Progression Awards, and National Certificates taken by candidates in schools and colleges.

Nationals replaced Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications as part of the evolution of qualifications and represent a natural continuation in the way pupils have learned under Curriculum for Excellence.

The Nationals are designed to test a broader range of knowledge and skills in learners, to enable them to be better prepared for the modern world – whether moving onto further or higher education, training or employment.

This is the first year of the new Advanced Higher. 

Full attainment statistics for the National Courses and Awards 2016 are available

Chief Examining Officer's 2016 National Qualifications Results Report 

Presentation of data

SQA presents the data on candidate attainment by SCQF level. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework is the flexible ‘ladder’ of qualifications, which allows candidates to progress at a pace and in a direction to suit their needs.

The data will provide a breakdown of how many candidates have taken each qualification at which stage of their education, for example in S4 of secondary school or at a Further Education College.

For National Courses that are not graded - for example National 4 - the total attainment figure in each subject will be provided along with the total number of entries for the subject. National 4 entries include those awarded through the Recognising Positive Achievement (RPA) process.

For National Courses that are graded - for example National 5 - the total attainment figure for each subject will be provided, A-D and No Award rates. In addition the total number of entries for the subject will be provided.

Grade boundaries

Grade boundaries are the marks needed to achieve a particular grade for a course. We take our responsibility to uphold the high standards of Scottish qualifications very seriously, and we review the grade boundaries each year to ensure that exam results are fair and consistent for candidates across Scotland, year on year. A guide explaining the grade boundary process is available on the website.

Each year after certificates have been sent out to candidates, we post information on our website to show what grade boundary decisions were made for each subject.

Results Services

The following services for candidates, which replaced the old appeals system from the 2013-14 session, is as follows:

1. Post Results Service:

This service runs after candidates have received their certificates. If a school or college is concerned by a candidate’s result, they can request a clerical check and/or a marking review of the candidate’s material which is submitted to SQA for marking. If this check/review of the marking of the candidate’s material, leads to a change of grade (either up or down), this will be amended on the system and a new certificate will be issued to the candidate. There will be no consideration of ‘alternative evidence’ with this service. If the original grade remains unchanged after the check/review of the marking of the candidate’s material, the school or college will be charged.

2. Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service:

This service ran prior to results being published. If a school or college believed that a candidate suffered as a result of exceptional circumstances (such as bereavement or illness during an exam) staff could inform SQA of the circumstances and submit alternative evidence of attainment demonstrated by the candidate, which would be considered. Alternative evidence could be sourced from coursework, class assessments or mock exams.

More information on SQA results services can be found at

Developing the Young Workforce

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is a seven year national plan which looks to improve the options on offer for young people, and reduce youth unemployment. DYW is aligned to Curriculum for Excellence.

SQA is uniquely placed to support Scotland’s young workforce by working together with training providers, employers, colleges and schools to ensure young people have the skills and qualifications employers are looking for.

Find out more –

SQA Candidate Advice Line

SQA’s Candidate Advice Line will be available from 8am – 6pm on Tuesday 9 August and from 8.30am – 5pm on Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 August. Candidates can ring 0345 279 1000 for advice on the content and layout of their certificate.

SDS Results Helpline

Skills Development Scotland is offering a helpline for candidates who have questions about their next move – 0808 100 8000.

2016 SQA Attainment Summary (339 KB)