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SQA results day: what to expect

Our complete guide to SQA results day guide will take you step-by-step through your options, whatever your results. Your journey to university starts here!

Contents: 

When is SQA results day?

Results day for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is Tuesday 8 August 2017.

What SQA results do I need to apply for uni?

Most universities' entry requirements centre around specific grades in four or five Highers which you achieve in S5. With these under your belt, you can then begin applying to universities - this is the opposite of what happens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where you apply with your predicted grades and have to wait until results day to find out if you've got the grades to meet your offer. 

Universities may require these to be achieved in one sitting (in S5) or might allow retakes in S6.

Scottish universities don't tend to ask for Advanced Highers (taken in S6) in their entry requirements - usually your Highers grades are sufficient. The exception is where you're applying to a particularly competitive course, such as medicine or law. In some cases, you may be asked to take an additional Higher or two alongside this.

That said, there are benefits to staying on at college and studying for Advanced Highers and some universities actively encourage this. It can improve your chances of receiving an offer the following year. Plus, some universities grant direct entry to second year for particular courses, including in the sciences and engineering.

If you're unsure what you need to achieve, always check specific requirements with the university in question.

Before results day

If you're worried that come results day you won't get the Advanced Highers grades you need for that competitive degree course you've applied for, be ready to contact the university straight away to find out whether they'll accept you based on what you do get. Also, you can make a start on a back-up plan just in case.

Competition is stiff for places at Scottish universities; according to Audit Scotland, the number of applications being made has grown at a faster rate than the number of funded places available over the last decade, meaning an offer might be more difficult to come by.

Therefore a little preparation for the worst case scenario seems advisable. This way, you can carefully plan your next step rather than make a rash decision you'll regret.

What happens on SQA results day?

Your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) will arrive in the post on results day (first class, no less).

Those who signed up to MySQA can request to have these sent to them via email or text – a good idea if you'll be away on holiday. If you're applying to university, SQA will send your results to Ucas automatically, so you'll be able to check the status of your application online via Track.

If you don't receive your results on this day, contact your school or college immediately.

What will I receive?

You'll receive the following in your SQC:
  • a cover letter, outlining what is enclosed, your Scottish Candidate Number and SQA contact details if you have any queries
  • a summary of grades, covering all the SQA qualifications and units you've achieved until now
  • a detailed record of attainment, covering in detail the most recent qualifications you've achieved
  • a core skills profile, outlining the five skills you've achieved from your qualifications, which the SQA considers crucial to work.

Results day - I'm in S6 and applying to uni this year 

If you get the Advanced Higher results you were hoping for, congratulations! Continue preparing for the transition to university studies.

Ucas will send you an AS12 email confirming your place after hearing from your university. If your firm offer was unconditional, you'll have received this back in Spring anyway (so there's nothing for you to do). 

If you don't get the Advanced Higher or (retaken) Higher results you need, check Ucas Track immediately to see the status of your offer. If it says 'conditional', that means the university is still making a decision over whether to accept you or not – there's still hope! Contact the university directly to speak to someone.

If your first choice university ultimately doesn't accept you, you'll revert to your insurance course choice.

If you don't meet the requirements for your insurance option (or don't have one), you can enter Ucas Clearing to find an alternative course and apply to them. 

Ucas Clearing

Clearing mainly exists for those in S6 who don't get the necessary results in either a) the Highers they're retaking or b) the Advanced Highers they need for a particular university course. 

Scottish universities begin publicising their Clearing vacancies a few weeks ahead of results day.

This year we've spotted a few Clearing vacancies for Scottish students, being advertised on Ucas, they include: Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Highlands and Islands, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon, SAE Institute, SRUC, Stirling, Strathclyde and West of Scotland universities.

However, the number of places available may vary from institution to institution; or the university may restrict who these are open to.

Some universities have very few Clearing spots, or even none at all. This could be due to larger government policies at work, or simply because they're popular and have filled their spots already.

Check with individual universities to see what they're putting on the table during Clearing this year.

Just note that English, Northern Irish and Welsh universities publicise the majority of their Clearing vacancies closer to A-level results day on 17 August, when students there receive their results. But it's worth looking to see what else is available before this to get ahead of the later rush.

If there's nothing that appeals right now, keep checking for new vacancies as more are announced around the 17th.

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    Results day - I'm in S5 and want to go to uni in 2018

    Once you've got your Highers results under your belt, you'll have a clearer picture of the courses and universities that match your grades in terms of entry requirements. Here on Which? University, use our Highers grade filters to find relevant university degrees that match your academics.

    When applying to university in the autumn through Ucas (or directly to a college) think ambitiously and realistically about courses. We'd suggest a mixture of solid options with entry grades that reflect your current results now, plus one or two stretch choices that your intended achievements in S6 could help you swing. Dig into the detail of the course content, modules and application criteria.

    If you're planning to begin your university research journey once you have your Highers results, grab our free Getting into Uni guide; it contains everything you need to know about the next 12 months, from finding the perfect course and writing a personal statement to student finance and much more.

    If you don't get the Highers results you were hoping for, there is the option to retake these in S6, alongside any Advanced Highers you were planning to take here as well. 

    Retaking Highers in S6

    Some universities will accept a Highers grade that's been retaken in S6. Check this as it may vary across different institutions, as well as courses within a university; some may only consider Highers taken in one sitting.

    It might be that where retakes are accepted, specific conditions are attached. The University of Edinburgh states on its website that it will consider retaken Highers sat in S6 but that the minimum entry requirements shift up a grade (so an ABBB requirement in S5 would become AABB in S6).

    But, where competition for places is particularly fierce, losing out on a place to a single sitting candidate with the same results might be the reality. Keep your mind and options open to different courses and universities when applying. 

    Think carefully about your workload if you plan to retake Highers alongside any Advanced Highers or additional Highers - you'll be in for an intensive year.

    • Off to uni in Edinburgh or Glasgow? Uncover things to do, student tips, living info and more...

    Good luck!

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