top of page

Your guide to taking an SQA National 5 or Higher Qualification with Saturday School

Updated: Mar 12

Do you need a National 5 or Higher SQA Qualification?

Perhaps you are based outside of Scotland and are considering the IGCSE or A Level? Well, the first thing to point out is that anyone, anywhere in the UK – and beyond, can complete an online qualification course in Maths, English and other popular subjects with us. We may be known as Saturday School Scotland, but our courses don’t just run on Saturdays and we work with students all over the UK and Europe.

This guide has been put together to show you the options available to gaining a qualification with us to allow you to progress your schoolwork, career, and gain entry to work, college or university.

So whether you are a high school pupil, a young person who is home educated, or an adult looking to gain a new qualification, Saturday School can help you.

What are SQA National 5 and Higher Qualifications?

These qualifications are typically taken by school and college students in Scotland and are the qualifications that allow students to access and progress into work, college and university. They are not just applicable to people in Scotland however, and SQA qualifications are recognised all over the world by employers and universities. National 5 and Higher Qualifications are closely comparable to GCSEs and A Levels and are a perfect alternative and equivalent award. National 5 and Higher qualifications sit on the Scottish Credit Qualifications (SCQF) Framework at levels 5 and 6 respectively and this allows them to be compared to qualifications in the rest of the UK and beyond. This useful table also helps students see the benefit of taking an SQA Qualification with us compared to other awards, for example, look at how a Scottish Higher sits beside NVQ Level 3 and A Level. See also our blog on Scottish Highers v A Levels.

Q: So what qualification options are there?

A: You can take N5 or Higher Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry or Biology with us!

Full National 5 or Higher Qualification with Online Teaching and Final Exam:

The title says it all. Students anywhere in the world can study a full course online with us, with live online lessons, tutorials, teaching and the all-important final exam all included in the course cost. It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway, we are an SQA Approved Centre and all of our staff are real, fully qualified teachers, registered with the General Teaching Council, who will support you through every key area of the course. Whilst the course is taught via an online distance learning model, students do need to make their way to Glasgow for their final exam in each subject. The SQA exam diet is in April/May of each year. You can check the full list of options here:

Can I just be taught the SQA course with no final exam?

Yes! This may seem like an unusual option: why would someone take part in all the learning but not sit the final exam? Well, in actual fact, this is a model that is popular with us. Typically, students who follow this route are registered with another centre and are taking the same course or a similar course elsewhere. This option is perfect for those who just need extra teaching and learning or who are (reread this, is it supposed to say not?) maybe not getting the right level of support from their own course provider. It’s also useful for students who are perhaps looking to build or revisit the core skills in a subject before committing to the exam. Many school students use this option too as a result of having missed school through illness or who haven’t been able to engage as well in the course at school as they’d have liked, so in essence, they come to us to be re-taught the course but take the final exam with the centre where they are a registered pupil or student.

Exam only option

Can I just sit the SQA National 5 or Higher Exam only and not take the full course?

Many students contact us each year and ask if we can present them for the final SQA exam and the answer is Yes, with two main options. There are some important quality assurance steps we need to take though and this is purely to make sure the candidate is ready for the final exam.

As well as those taking fully-taught SQA National Qualification courses with us, many students contact us each year and ask if we can present them for the SQA exams.  Such enquiries are typically from adults or young people who have learned the coursework independently or with another centre outside of Saturday School.  Whilst there are some important quality assurance steps we need to take to ensure the candidate is ready for the final exam, the answer is often yes, Saturday School Ltd can present external/private candidates for SQA National 5 and Higher exams, including any externally assessed course work such as English folio pieces or Science assignments.

Exam and qualification options: 

National 5 Maths

Higher Maths

  • Exam only - £300

National 5 and Higher English

  • Final exam and submission of the externally assessed portfolio - £750

  • Fully-taught online qualification course with final exam and submission of the externally assessed portfolio - £750

National 5 and Higher Science subjects

(available for H/N5 Biology, H/N5 Chemistry, H Human Biology and N5/H Physics) 

  • Final exam and completion of the externally assessed practical assignment - £900

Please note that the science assignments require mandatory candidate attendance at:

  • Online information sessions for assignment

  • In person practical science work (at The Glasgow Academy)

  • In person report writing under exam conditions (at The Glasgow Academy)

In order to maximise success in the above exam and qualification options, it is advised to access the enhanced support available with our Weekly Lessons and Grade Booster Days.

If you have been learning an SQA National 5 or Higher course at another centre or independently via self-study or home-educated model, then you can take your final SQA exam with us.  The terminology here is that you would be a private candidate and Saturday School will be your presenting centre.  You will need to register and pay as one of our students and meet the appropriate deadline for coursework and registration.  So, even though you have been learning the course outside of Saturday School, you can take the exam with us.  For subjects like N5 and H Maths, this means you will come to us for the exam, for subjects where there are additional externally assessed items - such as English folio pieces or Physics assignments - you’ll need to come and take these with us too.  Before we register candidates for exams, we will set a short assessment to ensure that you are ready for the challenges of the final SQA exam at that particular level.  It should be noted that your performance in this may result in the refusal to present you for that exam – but only in the case where we feel you have no realistic chance of success in the final exam. 

If you would like to discuss the options above with us in more detail, or if you have a specific/bespoke request, then please contact:

You can also learn more about our courses on our qualifications page.

2,083 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page