Choosing your highers – your questions answered

If you’re at school in Scotland, and in S3 or S4, you might be thinking about choosing your Highers. You normally need to study towards four or five Highers in S5 – and may then go on to take Advanced Highers in S6.

Scottish Higher qualifications (known as Highers) are subject-based qualifications. After taking Highers, you can go on to university, further study, training, or work.

You can study for your Highers over one to two years, and will usually have a series of exams to assess your progress.

To go on to Highers, you will need at least five National 5 qualifications (Nat 5s) at grades A – C but this varies depending on your school.

How many Highers should I choose?

Most higher education courses require four or more Higher qualifications. They can also ask for specific Higher subjects and grades so check out the requirements if you have a career in mind.

How about if I don’t know what I want to do as a career?

If you’re unsure what career or job you want to do, choose a selection of Highers to keep your options open.

Which subjects should I choose?

Think about which subjects you enjoy, and which you are good at. That’s a good place to start selecting Highers in which you will do well. Remember to check if you need specific subjects for a future career.

What if I’m in S5 and have chosen the wrong subjects?

Don’t panic! If you are early on in the school year you may be able to swap – or why not think about taking further Highers in S6?

What do I do after Highers?

There are lots of options to you after completing your Highers. You could:

  • Apply to uni
  • Look for a job
  • Study an HNC or HND at a FE college
  • Apply for an apprenticeship

If you’re in Scotland, Highers are a great way to take you to the next stage in your life while learning more about topics you enjoy and which are interesting to you. Good luck with your choices.