Understanding your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)

students hugging on results day

Get to grips with your SQC by reading our guide to what it all means

In preparation for the Scottish Qualifications Certificates (SQC) arriving through your letterbox on Tuesday 9 August, we've laid out everything you need to understand your SQC.

Cover letter

Your cover letter will include your Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) and explain that your SQC is enclosed. 

If there are any subjects that you haven't attained a grade A-D for (ie you have received a No Award), these will be printed at the bottom of the letter. 

Summary of attainment

This is the most important part of the certificate. On this page, you'll find a list of each of your qualifications, the grade you received, the date you achieved the qualification and the level/difficulty of each qualification, as measured against the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

If you completed any standalone units (or did not achieve the full course award, but did achieve passes in the units), these will also be listed here, under 'National Units'. These don't contribute to graded courses.

student reading a letter

Detailed record of attainment

This detailed record of attainment expands on your summary of attainment. 

It includes your course codes, course names, grades, date of achievement, SCQF level and SCQF credit points. Again, the only really important things here are your grades. 

Any units that you failed or that you did not complete won't appear on here. 

If relevant, some of the awards may have statements next to them to highlight achievements – for example, there could be a sentence to say that a course was assessed and attained through the medium of Scottish Gaelic.

Profile up to date of the award of the certificate

This page contains a profile of the 'core skills' that you've achieved and an overall profile of your SCQF status. 

There are five separate core skills that the SQA deem important and these are built into all courses. These skills are: communication; numeracy; information and communication technology; problem solving; and working with others. 

You effectively achieve these core skills by passing the units and assessments in your course. The highest level achievable for core skills is SCQF level 6.

If you only have level 5 in one facet whereas you have 6 in everything else, don't worry about it. It just means that the skill was achieved at a lower level of qualification than other ones – the SCQF level of the skill matches up with the SCQF level of the course in which it was achieved. 

Students getting results

Interpreting your SQC: what does it all mean?


Advanced Higher, Higher and National 5 qualifications are all graded using letters. 

  • A: this is the highest tier of grade available
  • B:  the second highest
  • C: a pass
  • D: you have achieved all the units (where applicable) in the course and have achieved a band 7 in the course assessment, which equates to between 40 and 49% for Higher and National 5 and between 45 and 49% for Advanced Higher
  • No Award: this is given if you get under the grade boundary for a D in your exam. Subjects that receive No Award are printed on your cover letter from the SQA.


Bands refers to the tier of letter grade that you've received. Grades A-C have 2 bands each, whereas D only has one band. The bands are as follows:

  • A1 (A band 1) – an upper A
  • A2 (A band 2) – a lower A
  • B3 (B band 3) – an upper B
  • B4 (B band 4) – a lower B
  • C5 (C band 5) – an upper C
  • C6 (C band 6) – a lower C
  • D7 (D band 7) – a near miss

Why does it matter what band I get?

In the vast majority of cases banding doesn't matter – however, some universities (particularly the highly competitive ones like Cambridge) can give conditional offers in terms of bands (A1A1A2 instead of AAA). For the vast majority of universities, including Scottish universities, your banding doesn't matter.

My bands aren't on my certificate, what’s up?

Banding is never printed on your certificate. This is something you have to wait to find out from your teachers (or the department heads, depending on how your school/college works) when you return later in August.

student working on laptop

SCQF level

The SCQF level just tells you the 'level' of your qualification – Higher is a higher level than National 5 and Advanced Higher is a level above Higher. Hence, SCQF levels have been created as a way of quantifying this difference.

SQA has produced a very handy interactive framework to show the levels of the different qualifications.

SCQF credit points

Why should you care about credit points? Well, they're not of any practical consequence to you so you don't really need to care too much about them.

SCQF credit points are just a way of describing the 'value' of a course. Credit points are assigned different levels. For example, a National 5 is worth 24 points at SCQF Level 5, whereas a Higher is worth 24 points at SCQF Level 6.

Credit points are assigned to individual units and external assessments, and thus, the number of credit points a qualification is worth is the sum of the constituent parts that make up that course.

Your examination grade does not affect the number of points you receive – so, for example, you wouldn't get any more credit points for getting an A than you would for getting a D.

For more help and advice, check out our dedicated SQA forums.

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