• Understanding your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)


Cover Letter

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

Summary of Attainment

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

Detailed Record of Attainment

This is your summary expanded out. It includes your course codes (which are there purely for reference purposes), course names, your grades, the individual units of your course (those are the things you had to sit a NAB for!) that you've passed, date of achievement, SCQF level and SCQF credit points. Again, the only really important stuff here are your grades.
The units that make up your courses are pass/fail, and thus the results section is blank. Don't worry! They're supposed to be like that. Although it's common for teachers to give 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 for work and these are built into the courses that you're doing. You effectively get 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?


Higher, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 grades are given in letter form where as Standard Grades are given in number form (from 1-7 with 1 being the best and 7 being a fail). 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.

  • 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.

What are bands?

"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 bare fail

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 often give conditional offers in terms of bands (A1A1A2 instead of AAA). For the vast majority of 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.

SCQF Level

SCQF level just tells you what "level" your qualification is – Higher is a higher level than Standard Grade; 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 what level different qualifications are.

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, an Intermediate 2 is worth 24 points at level 5, whereas a Higher is worth 24 points at 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 rather 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.

What's the point of this SCQF system?

It's purely to give a quantifiable measurement of "level" and "value" to a qualification for the benefit of statistics, and to allow someone who's completely ignorant of what the qualification is or what it means to be able to interpret it and compare it to something they are familiar with.

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