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.

We are removing units from these courses on a phased basis over three years:

What this means for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher

In National 5 and Higher courses, we made one or more of the following changes to assessment for each subject:

We made these changes to strengthen the course assessments and ensure that candidates continue to be assessed on the full content of the course, following the removal of units and unit assessments. This will also protect the integrity of the course and maintain its current SCQF value.

For Advanced Higher courses, there is less of a requirement to extend the course assessments following the removal of units, so the changes will vary across subjects.

Changes to assessment (by subject)

Advanced Higher courses from session 2019-20:

We have published details of the changes to each Advanced Higher course on our NQ subject pagesThe following tables give a high-level overview of these changes across all subjects:

National 5 and Higher:

The following tables give a high-level overview of the changes to assessment in each course:


Your questions answered

Documents and assessment support materials


Between May and September 2018, we published new and revised specimen question papers and coursework assessment tasks for Higher courses, for use in session 2018-19 onwards. These are available from the NQ subject pages.

Advanced Higher

We will publish documents and support materials for Advanced Higher by the following dates:

Support for teachers and lecturers

We are committed to addressing workload concerns for teachers, lecturers and candidates. As part of our Understanding Standards programme, we are providing CPD webinars, face-to-face events and published materials to help teachers and lecturers prepare 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. Through our NQ research, we also met with a sample of teachers to gauge their views on the proposed changes to Higher assessments and the implications of these.