Understanding your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)

In preparation for the Scottish Qualifications Certificates (SQC) arriving through your letterbox on Tuesday 7th of August, we've laid out everything you need to understand your SQC.

Students getting results

Cover letter

This is just a letter from the SQA explaining this mysterious package on your doorstep is. Here you will also find (printed at the bottom) any subjects in which you've achieved no award.

Summary of Attainment

This is the most important part of the certificate. On this page you'll find a summary of your attainment including a list of your results and some other information like date of achievement and SCQF Level. 
You will also find details of separate units (usually listed under 'National Units') that you've achieved. These are things that you were assessed on that don't contribute to the graded courses. Often there are things here that you didn't even know would be awarded, or have forgotten about completely!

Detailed Record of Attainment

This is your summary expanded out. It includes your course codes, course names, grades, the individual units of your course (that you may have had to sit a UASP, sometimes called NAB for) that you've passed, date of achievement, SCQF level and SCQF credit points. Again, the only really important things here are your grades. 

The units that make up your courses are pass/fail, and thus the results section is blank. Don't worry - it's supposed to be like that. Although it’s not uncommon for teachers to give UASP (NAB) results a letter grade, this is purely for gauging your performance as opposed to contributing to attainment at the end.

Profile up to date of the award of the certificate

This page doesn't hold much importance for you. It 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. 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. 
Your SCQF profile is a summation of the credit points you've achieved at the different SCQF levels.


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 – A fail
  • No Award – this is given if you get under the grade boundary for a D in your exam, or if you've failed to pass any units before your exam. Subjects that receive a No Award are printed on your cover letter from the SQA.

The SQA standardise the grade boundaries for individual subject so that papers that were particularly easy have higher grade boundaries, whereas papers that were particularly hard receive lower grade boundaries meaning you should get the grade you deserve, regardless of which year you sit the exam in.


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 many 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. Often, teachers don't actively disclose bands and you have to purposefully seek them out and ask them. If you don't care about bands, then you can save yourself all of this effort.

boy checking sqa results

SCQF Level

SCQF level just tells you the 'level' of your qualification – Higher is a higher level than National 5; Advanced Higher is a higher level than Higher. Hence, SCQF levels have been created as a way of quantifying this difference. Fortunately, a very handy diagram has been produced to allow you to easily see the level of the different qualifications.

SCQF Credit Points

Why should you care about credit points? Well, you shouldn't really. 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). These credit points won't be of much practical consequence to you, so don't worry about them, but now you're at least aware of what they mean.
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 (e.g. you don't get more for getting an A than a D). 
If you'd like to compare the number of credit points different types of qualifications are worth, the SCQF have produced a handy interactive framework here


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