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Will Advanced Highers help me get into uni?

After completing four or five Highers in S5, you might be offered the chance to spend the next year taking Advanced Highers before continuing on to university. The experts explain more…

If you’re planning on going to uni in Scotland, it’s not essential to have Advanced Highers to apply to university, as Scottish universities typically make offers based on your Highers results. However, continuing your studies at a higher level will help you make an easier transition from school to university-level learning and has other benefits, too. 

Will Advanced Highers help your uni application?

Not an entry requirement

Here at GCU, the answer would be no - taking Advanced Highers won't put you at an advantage, as none of our courses currently list these as entry requirements specifically. Lynne Barrie | Uk Student Recruitment Officer - Glasgow Caledonian University

Highers are usually taken in S5 (fifth year) and candidates will often take four or five of them. In S6 many candidates will also take Advanced Highers or the Scottish Baccalaureate, although their achievement in S5, if they achieve a good set of Highers, is usually sufficient to warrant unconditional offers for degree places in Scotland.  John Lewis | Scottish Qualifications Authority (sqa)

Improves your chances

If you didn’t manage to get the Highers grades you needed in S5 to meet the entry requirements of the university course you wanted to take, completing additional Highers, Advanced Highers (or a mixture of the two) will improve your chances of being made a conditional offer the following year.

At Aberdeen the position is that if the applicant has not met or exceeded our normal entry requirements, we would make a conditional offer based on the qualifications they tell us they are aiming for in S6, which will commonly include one or more Advanced Higher. Lesley Maclennan | Heloa and Scotland Group Chair

Fast-tracking in Scotland

Taking Advanced Highers in certain subjects and at certain universities – can also fast-track you straight into the second year of university.

The university encourages direct entry into the second year for some of its science courses and it sees the following benefits for Advanced Higher students entering directly into second year: it speeds up entry into employment or postgraduate degree courses and encourages students to aim for the Schools’ Master degree courses; it saves one year’s funding and so will reduce student debt.  University Of St Andrews

(source: SQA)

If you’ve already been accepted on to a course on the basis of your Highers scores but opt to do Advanced Highers in the intervening year, direct entry to your second year could be open to you – it’s best to speak directly to your university department about this.

Advancing your education

Let’s not forget the educational benefits of spending an extra year studying at a higher level. Advanced Highers will set you in good stead for making a smooth transition into university studies. And while they might not be quoted as entry requirements, some university courses may expect you to continue to Advanced Highers in S6 before proceeding on to uni.

It can be different outside of Scotland

Universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland tend to look at Advanced Highers in different ways. Some may ask for this qualification as an essential entry requirement. For others, it’s not necessary. Either way, your Advanced Highers won’t put you at a disadvantage – that extra year of maturity and more intensive study under your belt will be viewed as good preparation for studying at degree level.

The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge typically ask for four As at Highers level, plus three at Advanced Highers level in their entry requirements so if the aim of the game is to get into one of these universities, doing Advanced Highers is probably a smart move.

On the other hand, elsewhere in the UK you’ll find a good set of Highers will be enough to receive an offer.


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