Student Advice

What are Scottish Highers?

Ben Maples  · Apr 19th 2024  · 3 min

Scottish Highers are important qualifications if you're from Scotland and looking to go to university.


There are lots of different routes to university! Scottish Highers are the most widely accepted qualifications for Scottish students looking to go to university. Here, we’ll break down how Scottish Highers are graded, how many UCAS tariff points they’re worth and how to pick the best courses for you!

Scottish Highers grading system

What are Scottish Highers?

Scottish Highers are qualifications sat by Scottish students between 16-18 and equivalent to A-Levels. You'll take 4 or 5 Highers in the 5th year of secondary school.

Scottish Highers are considered a level 6 qualification in Scotland. They consist of work set and marked by teachers and external exams. If you achieve good results on your Highers, you can take extra Highers or Advanced Highers.

What are Advanced Highers?

Scottish Advanced Highers are optional qualifications. They are the highest level of qualification offered by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and are considered to be level 7 qualifications.

How do I choose my Scottish Highers?

Picking the right Scottish Highers for you is a bit like choosing the right university course for you. Think about the subjects you want to study and what you might want to study at university if you go. If you’re really stuck, then pick the subjects you're passionate about.

If you have a career in mind, then great! Pick subjects that are related to that career path.

Scottish Highers results day 2024

How are Scottish Highers graded?

Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers are graded with the same grading system, which is A to D. Your score is given a percentage score, which corresponds to a letter grade and to a transcript comment.

Grade Score % Transcript comments
A 70-100 Good to very good
B 60-69 More than sufficient
C 50-59 Sufficient
D 40-49 Just sufficient
N/A 0-48 No award

Unlike A-Levels, A is the highest grade you can get, as you can’t score an A*.

How many UCAS tariff points are Scottish Highers worth?

Grade A-Levels UCAS points Scottish Highers UCAS points Advanced Highers UCAS points
A* 56 N/A N/A
A 48 33 56
B 40 27 48
C 32 21 40
D 24 15 32

Scottish Highers equivalent

What’s the difference between Scottish Highers and A-Levels?

While Scottish Highers can only be sat in Scotland, A-Levels are studied in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

A-Levels are studied over 2 years, while Scottish Highers are only studied for 1. If you want to study for a second year in Scotland, you'll sit Advanced Highers.

A-Levels tend to have a broader range of subjects to choose from. A-Level students have 100 A-Level choices, while Scottish Highers have around 70.

When is Scottish Highers Results Day?

Scottish Highers Results Day for 2024 is Tuesday, August 6th. Advanced Highers’ results are released on the same day.

How many Scottish Highers do I need to get into university? The university entry requirements vary depending on where you study. Most universities expect you to have 4 Scottish Highers, but the results needed will vary.

If a course is quite popular, or competitive, or if you're applying to certain universities, then you’ll likely need 5 Highers. Advanced Highers will be very helpful.

Do I have to have Advanced Highers to get into university?

Some universities will ask for Advanced Highers while others won’t. You’ll need to check out the entry requirements for your course to see if they’re needed.

Typically, Advanced Highers are required for dentistry courses, medicine courses, veterinary medicine courses, and others, as they’re highly competitive courses, this will also be the same if you're applying to Oxbridge.

Can I retake my Scottish Highers?

Yes, you can! You can either re-sit the exams at your school, re-sit the exams in college, or enrol in night school. If you decide to re-sit your Scottish Highers, then you’ll have to wait a year before you re-apply to university.

If you're worried your grades aren’t enough to get into university, there are alternatives you can look at! You can enrol onto an HND, an HNC, a BTEC, or T-Levels. Some students also decide to enrol on a foundation degree before applying for an undergraduate degree after that.

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