Changes to assessment of National Courses

In September 2016 the Deputy First Minister announced that units and unit assessments would be removed from National 5 to Advanced Higher courses.

Units will be removed on a phased basis over three years:

Changes to course assessment

Following the removal of units and unit assessments, we are strengthening the course assessments to ensure that candidates continue to be assessed on the full content of each course. This will protect the integrity of National Courses and maintain the current course value of 24 SCQF credit points. For each course, we will make one or more of the following changes:

The following table gives a high-level overview of the planned changes to assessment in Higher courses from session 2018-19 onwards.

Subject-specific information is also available from our NQ subject web pages.

The following table provides a summary changes to National 5 courses, which have been implemented for session 2017-18 onwards:

Your questions answered

If you have any questions about these changes, you might find the answers in our Q&A document.

We are continuing to update this document based on the enquiries we receive.

Publication timeline for Higher documents and support materials

We will publish new specimen question papers and coursework assessment tasks for subjects with new exams or coursework. We will also update existing specimen question papers and coursework assessment tasks for subjects with extended exams or coursework.

Course support notes will be added to the course specifications as an appendix.

Support for teachers and lecturers

SQA is committed to addressing workload concerns for teachers, lecturers and candidates and is assessing how the design, operational, and systems requirements will be delivered.

As part of our Understanding Standards programme, we are providing CPD webinars, audio presentations and face-to-face events to help prepare teachers for the changes to assessment.

If you need any further advice about the changes to National Courses, please contact your local Liaison Manager.

Engaging with teachers on the changes to assessment

We work closely with our National Qualifications Support Teams (NQSTs) to review the course assessments for each subject and carefully consider how the assessments should be strengthened. NQST members include teachers, lecturers, union representatives, professional associations and representatives from higher education. We also meet with a sample of teachers to gauge their views on the proposed changes to Higher assessments and the implications of these.