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 from these courses on a phased basis, over three years:

What this means for course assessments

Once units and unit assessments are removed from National 5 to Advanced Higher courses, we need to strengthen 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 their current course value of 24 SCQF credit points. For each course, we will make one or more of the following changes:

Overview of changes to assessment, by subject

The following tables give a high-level overview of the changes to assessment in National 5 and Higher courses. The changes to National 5 were introduced during session 2017-18, and the changes to Higher will be introduced in session 2018-19.

We will share details of the planned changes to Advanced Higher in due course.

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.

Documents and assessment support materials

At the end of April 2018, we published revised course specification documents for all Higher courses. These detail the content that is taught in each course, and provide information on the revised course assessments. By the end of September, we will add course support notes to these documents as an appendix. 

Between May and September 2018, we are publishing specimen question papers and coursework assessment tasks for Higher courses, for use in session 2018-19 onwards. These documents will be available from the '2018-19 session' section of the Higher subject pages.

Support for teachers and lecturers

SQA is committed to addressing workload concerns for teachers, lecturers and candidates.

As part of our Understanding Standards programme, we are providing CPD webinars, audio presentations, face-to-face events and published support materials 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. 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.