Advanced Higher - unreformed

Qualification code
(SQA allocate a unique qualification number to each subject as a 4 + 2 code: (‘C’ refers to a National Course and ‘13’ refers to the qualification type – Advanced Higher).)

Advanced Highers offer increased subject specialisation, enabling candidates to develop subject knowledge and skills (and other transferable skills, as appropriate).

Sitting at the same Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level as the starting point of Scottish higher education (HE), SCQF Level 7, they are designed to provide a greater level of challenge beyond Higher for candidates in S6, particularly where they are seeking entry to HE - including direct entry to second year of a degree.

Advanced Highers are not the standard entry requirement for Scottish applicants to Scottish HEPs, but are for several HEPs in the rest of the UK.

Advanced Highers also provide access to employment, further education and training.


A, B, C, D.


Unit assessment is usually taken at the end of the learning and teaching of each Unit and is not graded.

Assessment of Units is usually through closed-book assessment under supervision.

Where appropriate, some Units are assessed through methods such as assignment, practical, performance or portfolio evidence.

Course assessment combines different skills, knowledge and understanding from across the course into a synoptic external assessment (which may be made up of one or more components). The course assessment measures retention, integration and application of skills, knowledge and understanding as appropriate. Grades are awarded on the basis of the course assessment. Students are required to pass the course assessment in order to achieve the Advanced Higher course.

Course assessment may have one or more components, which may include, for example, an external examination paper and an assignment or performance piece. Most components of course assessment are wholly externally assessed, but where appropriate to the skills, knowledge and understanding being assessed, course assessment may be made up of a combination of externally and internally assessed (and externally verified) components which contribute to the grade.

To gain a course award, candidates must achieve a Pass in each of the component Units of the course as well as achieve a grade D or above in the course assessment.

The Arrangements Documents specify the nature of both Unit and course assessment for each subject:

Further information

SCQF Level 7 qualification (sitting across Levels 3 and 4 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales).

SCQF Level 7 is the starting level for Scottish higher education on the SCQF.

Applicants to HE may be awarded direct entry to the second year at Scottish HEPs for certain degree subjects based on specified achievement in two or three Advanced Highers.

Many candidates in S6 receive unconditional offers from Scottish HEPs based on their Highers results in S5.

However, most Scottish HEPs also make offers based on the achievement of two to three specific Advanced Highers for entry to the second year of certain undergraduate degrees.

In most cases, candidates will enter for one or two Advanced Highers. Three Advanced Highers in S6 is not the standard uptake. Local timetabling decisions and size of school may create variations in the pattern of provision; this may affect the number of Advanced Highers offered and taken at a centre.

In some cases, for example due to geography, timetabling decisions or size of provider, a learner may not have the opportunity to take Advanced Highers at their school or college.  Candidates in S6 with limited or no access to Advanced Highers may take further Higher subjects instead of, or in addition to, Advanced Highers. Some candidates may register at multiple centres within the same school year in order to access a wider range of subjects.

Some courses, such as medicine and dentistry, often stipulate that a candidate must have a GCSE equivalent entry requirement, such as a National 5 qualification in English. In the event that an applicant has bypassed their National 4 and 5 qualifications, the university or college will normally require that the qualifications are achieved at Higher or Advanced Higher.

SQA’s National Qualification Arrangements Documents for each Advanced Higher subject are available at:

SQA’s website is:

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) website is available at: