National 5s follow on from the Nationals 1-4 students take in their junior phase at school. Most students choose approximately eight subjects to study at National 5. English and Maths are compulsory and most schools will also ask students to do a science, social science and modern language. However, what each school offers depends on its resources and timetabling. Students may also be able to choose classics, expressive arts, maths, humanities and IT.
Scotland use a "higher still" programme whereby students undertake their Nationals at a time that suits their ability. Therefore, they may be "fast-tracked" and sit a couple of subjects early or may take some along with their Highers in S5.
To pass the course, students need to pass unit assessments, which are marked as pass or fail. They will also need to pass external assessments. These include an exam and/or coursework, such as assignments, portfolios, or practical activities.
For each subject students will receive an overall grade of A to D, or 'No Award'. However, if they receive a 'No Award', but have passed units within the course, they will obtain credits for all those passed. They will also be able to achieve a formal qualification on their National 4s, on the successful completion of the Added Value Unit Assessment for National 4.