Over the last couple of years on Ciao, I have been studying my Standard Grades and have now finished my Highers. Highers are the most difficult thing I have ever done.
At 16 if you do not want to go on to do College or employment, then this is a course you would study. You can do these at college, high school and also in employment as part-time or even full time. Highers are one of the most diverse range of subjects you can have, ranging from Maths to Hospitality to Scots Gaelic. So when I disappeared for a while, this is what I was studying for. For all you English, Welsh, Irish and unknowing Scot's of the Scottish education system, this is for you, enjoy!
What Is A Higher?
The Scottish education system is quite bit different to others in the UK. It is basically the AS/A-Level of Scotland. It is most commoly studied by 5th and 6th years at High School with the ages from 16 to 18. However they can be done at college and in employment schemes. They are usually 1 year courses but I have seen them being stretched into 2 year courses. Now my best friend is from Yorkshire, so she was able to inform me about GSCE's and AS Levels which is handy. So it is the most important certificated level of entry which usually allows entry into colleges and the step to Higher Education courses. If you take any highers, it is usually so you can get into College/University or employment.
What Courses Can You Take?
There is SUCH a variety and it really varies from what school you go to. My school for example did Highers in Food Technology and Engineering. While other schools didn't do this but did other subjects such as Geology, Classic Greek and Philosphy! There is such a huge range and here are most of the ones I could fine that you can do a SQA Higher in:
- Sciences: Biology, Human Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Physics, Technological Sciences, Home Economics, Architectural Technology and Civil Engineering.
- Social Subjects: History, Geography, Modern Studies, Politics, Philosphy, Religious Studies, Classics and Economics.
- IT: Computing Studies, Accounting, Administration and Business Management.
- Languages: French, Spanish, Scot's Gaelic, German, Italian, Urdu, Russian, Classical Greek, Chinese and Latin.
- Arts: Drama, Art, Music, Graphics, Dance, Media Studies, Craft And Design.
- Others: Early Education and Childcare Studies, Physical Education, Sports Studies, Travel and Tourism.
It really does vary from school to school. All schools and colleges will offer Maths and English and the rest really is up to the centre. For example, if you live up north your much more likely to do Scot's Gaelic. Urdu and Italian for example aren't avaliable at my school but are more likely to be taught in Urban high schools. Students usually do up to 5 highers however you can do as little or as many as you can. I think there is a limit of up to 7 Highers (why someone would want to do 7 I will never know!) as they are very hard work.
When I first started my Highers, the grading system did make sense. It works on an A, B, C, D and F. As you can see there is no 'E' grade. Now the thing about Highers is there is no exact value for the percentage you get it does change per subject. Here is a rough guide to grades and what you get:A - 70% or above (it can vary for example it can be up to 80% to get an A, it depends what subject)
B - 60% to 69%
C - 50% to 59%
D - 42% to 49% (considered a 'almost' pass)
F - 41% and below
It is a fair system and easy to understand. You bascially have to get over 50% to pass a Higher. C grade is the last pass grade you can get, in which you then move over to D which my teachers explained is a close pass. A D is actually a new award (if it can be considered that?) and was brought into to show that is was actually a close fail. Anything under 41% is a fail and you get what is called a 'No Grade'. However throughout the year you will have been doing NAB's (National Assessment Bank) tests in which you have to pass to actually get to sit the exam. If you fail and exam you still get the NAB's on your certificate which shows you have done parts of the course. So it is a fair and easy enough grading system.
You have come from finishing your Standard Grades and Int 2's and now you are ready to take the leap into Higher education. The biggest problem with Highers is the huge jump from Standard Grade.
I really struggled with the adjustment at first as the sheer workload is not only much larger, but the amount of outside studying that you need to do. When you first start out you are put into the deep end straight away and need to get to work. Throughout the year you are tested on NABS's and homework is more than a weekly thing. I personally really did have trouble trying to keep up. However apart from the adjusting and getting used to the work load, I started to get into the swing of it.
In January you have Prelims which are back up's incase you don't do very well in the exams. So the amount of testing you do is a lot and if you are not used to doing a lot of work then you will struggle. Overall I would say the learning is difficult, however if you don't make the same mistake as me by NOT ORGANISING AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF YOUR COURSE, then you will do ok in the courses. They are challenging, difficult and damn right stubborn if you are not organised enough. That is a bit of wisdom to anyone who is going on to do Highers.
Well I only got my exam results on the 5th of August... I actually got mine by text message, although it also came by post. You can sign up through this service, incase your on holiday etc which I thought was a very good idea. Now I was actually disappointed at my results as I was wanting to see some B's there. Especially English, I was really annoyed about it. I was in tears over my results as I knew I could have done so much better but didn't feel I had the support to want to carry on and give them another go.
Modern Studies - C
Geography - C
English - D
Chemistry - C
As you can see I passed 3 and 'failed' English. Now what is annoying to me is that I really thought I had passed some of those subjects with B grades. Obviously not however. But I will give them another try and am planning to do English and Geography again. I have to admit when I got those results I then read in the Scotsmen newspaper that the pass rates were at it's higher. That made me feel even worse and I can't tell you that it was a pretty awful experience and hope I never get that sickening feeling ever again. But at least I know what I have to do, get organised and much more revising!
More than 150,000 people sit their higher exams in which results range from 6 A's to 5 'No Grades'. Even though Higher courses are the hardest thing some people will ever do in their academic career, it does teach you more than you can imagine and it will be the step to towards further qualifications. Whether it be an apprenticeship, college, higher education and much more. I've had a bad experience however I do have the chance to amend this and try even harder in my 6th year. But I suppose it isn't the end of the world and I have the oppertunity to try some of these again. But I can't tell you the bitter experience I have had after one year of Highers, I hope in my 6th form and last year, I will do SO much better. If you are going to sit higher's then please read this fully and you may not hopefully make the same mistake as me. It was devestating not to get the results you want however I vow to work hard and render my mistakes! I want to go to University although can't on those grades so am going to be trying very hard over the next year to get there.
Thanks for reading!
Copyright of Scotlandizdabest 2009