The Waid Academy

Multi Pertransibunt Et Augebitur Scientia

Course Choice

Course Choice can often be an anxious time but we hope the information contained in each section of the Curriculum part of this website will help guide and support you throughout the process.

S3 Course Choice Booklet 2020-2021

S56 course choice book 2020-2021

In S3 learners will complete the learning experiences and outcomes as outlined in the Curriculum for Excellence, broad general education, after which they will embark on national courses in preparation for SQA National Award presentation in S4. The table below illustrates the new and current qualifications framework.

Which National Qualifications will S4 learners sit in session 2020/2021?

 The majority of learners will be studying courses from National 3 up to National 5.  The table below illustrates the New Qualifications which have replaced our previous qualification framework.


SCQF Level New National Qualifications Replaces Previous National Qualifications
1 and 2 National 1 and National 2 > Access 1 and Access 2
3 National 3 > Access 3
Standard Grade (Foundation level)
4 National 4 > Standard Grade (General level)
Intermediate 1
5 National 5 > Standard Grade (Credit level)
Intermediate 2
6 Higher (new) > Higher
7 Advanced Higher (new) > Advanced Higher


National 3 replaces Standard Grade Foundation and Access. There is no formal assessment.  A pass is awarded in a National 3 when the course requirements in terms of class work and assignments have been completed.

National 4 replaces Standard Grade General and Intermediate 1.  This course consists of 3 units and an added value unit. These units will be assessed within the school on a pass/fail basis. There is no external exam at National 4. To achieve a course award at this level, all units must be passed, if not, unit passes will be awarded.

National 5 replaces Standard Grade Credit and Intermediate 2.  In addition to passing the units assessments as part of their coursework, pupils will be required to pass an additional external assessment. This will usually take the form of an exam or a project which will be marked by the SQA.  Performance will be graded on an A-D basis.

In most courses pupils will sit preliminary exams in S3 and S4 to assess their progress and prepare them for exams in the Senior Phase.









National 3





National 4





National 5



A, B, C and D


How will the new courses be assessed?

 All the new courses are Unit based. Units in all courses are flexible to allow teachers to make decisions about unit assessment methods. There are 7 methods of assessment specified for Course Assessment. Appropriate to subject and level:

  • Assignment
  • Case-Study
  • Project
  • Portfolio
  • Practical Activity
  • Performance
  • Test/Question paper

National 3 and 4 Course Award

There will be no external examination in these courses. Assessment will not be graded; work will be assessed within the school as pass/ fail.  In most cases learners will have to achieve 3 unit passes and in the case of National 4, also a value added pass to achieve the Course Award.

The value added assessment combines different elements of a Course into an overall assessment e.g. making a Finished Product from Wood – which requires them to produce a finished product which provides evidence of some of the skills, knowledge, understanding they have acquired throughout their Course.

National 5 Course Award

There will be an external assessment which may take the form of an exam. Assessment will be graded A-D. To achieve a Course Award, in most cases learners will have to achieve 3 unit awards, assessed as pass/fail and an added value unit, assessed as A-D by the SQA.

Progression from S4 into S5 courses

The following table outlines the advised progression route for those pupils who wish to stay on at school after S4. It illustrates the courses pupils should take on the basis of their S4 awards, whilst also giving an idea of the level of courses available in the National Qualification programme. Please note that some subjects may have slightly different entry requirements and more specific information will be given to the pupils during S4 before they make their choices for S5.

S4 award                                                   S5 course

National 3                                                      National 4

National 4                                                      National 5

National 5 A or B                                          Higher

Where pupils have struggled to pass a course at a particular level it may not be advisable for them to move up a level that year but rather go for some lateral progression. For example if a pupil has been awarded a C pass at National 5 for Chemistry it may be advisable for them to choose another Science at National 5 level in their 5th year and move onto to a Higher in 6th year.

The Value of Highers

A good set of Highers is necessary for any student wishing to go directly from school to University or College to take a degree or Higher Diploma course.  The number and quality of Highers required varies considerably depending on the institution’s entry requirements and the type of course applied for.  In general, a minimum of 2 B passes and 2 C passes are necessary, but very often the requirement is for 4 B passes or better.  Students should check the entrance requirements set by their preferred University or College.

The Demands of Highers

Higher Grade subjects are much more difficult than National Courses subjects.  Thus, to be successful, Higher Grade candidates must be prepared to work conscientiously after school hours as well as during the school day.  The amount of extra time required will vary from subject to subject and from candidate to candidate.  It is true too that there are peaks and troughs during the school year, depending on the dates of tests and exams.  Students who wish to obtain the best possible results must be prepared to work an average of 2-3 hours per week per subject.  The HIGHER is a national competition, and candidates are judged against each other on a national scale.  In most cases, Highers are a 1 year course and pupils are presented for SQA exams at the end of S5.  In some cases, the appropriate progression route may be to study for the Higher course over 2 years, it may be possible to gain some unit awards in S5.

New Higher Courses

As part of the Curriculum for Excellence developments, Higher Courses have been updated and revised to provide good progression from the new National 5 courses.

Advanced Highers

As part of the Curriculum for Excellence developments, Advanced Higher courses have been updated and revised.  In almost all cases, these new courses will be offered this session at The Waid Academy.



Pupils in S5 and S6 can sometimes have the opportunity to choose options which do not fall into the category of SQA course awards.  In some cases, SQA unit awards are available and in others alternative awards may be available.  For details on this, see the specific course information.


All students in S5 study a subject in every column of the Subject Choice Sheet.  There are no “free” periods in S5.  Subjects normally fall within the framework of National Qualifications assessed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.  All students in S5 also have PSE and PE classes.  For all subjects there are 6 periods allocated per week.


Students in S6 are expected to have a full curriculum with one subject chosen from each of the columns.  There are no “free” periods in S6.  Permission for a study period will be dependent on several factors – subjects and levels being studied (and an identified need for additional study/research time); a suitable room identified for this study, a staff signature obtained to verify the study/room arrangements.  There will be no “out of school” arrangements sanctioned for any S6 pupil during the school day, unless a visit is part of a subject syllabus or an organised work placement.

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