Qualifications at Access 1 and 2 levels

The basic building block for all SQA qualifications is the Unit and there are several different categories of Unit at level 1 and 2. Units may be taken individually or grouped together into Courses or Group Awards. The various types of Units, Courses and Group Awards available at Access 1 and 2 are described in the table below.

Further information and Unit and Course specifications can be found by clicking on the links provided in the Qualification Description column.

Qualification Description
Access 2 Units Access 2 Units were developed in 1999 through Higher Still, mainly as part of Courses. There are also several Units which pre-date the Higher Still development and are still available and listed in the NQ Catalogue.
Access 2 Courses Courses were developed in 1999 as part of the Higher Still development. To gain a Course, candidates must achieve 3 specified Unit Credits.
Access 2 Scottish Group Awards (SGAs) There is one SGA at Access 2 level, however, it can be achieved in different combinations called a single award (9 Unit credits), a double award (14 Unit credits) and a triple award (18 Unit credits)
Access 2 Skillstart Group Award The Skillstart Group Award requires candidates to achieve 6 Unit credits at Access 2 level
Access 1 Derived Units When Access provision was developed in 1999 through Higher Still it was decided that Access 1 Units should be developed based on the individual outcomes of the Units at Access 2 level. On this basis, a group of Units were developed at Access 1 level and came to be described as 'Derived' Units as they were effectively subsets of Access 2 Units.
Access 1 Independent Units It was decided in 2003 that there was a need for some Access 1 Units that were not derived from the Outcomes of Access 2 Units. Centres had indicated that there is a group of candidates who were not capable of achieving the Derived Units but could, with some assistance, achieve Units at Access 1 level. On this basis 11 'Independent' Access 1 Units were introduced in 2003 and others have subsequently been added.
Access 1 Supported Units These Units were first developed in 2003 after the introduction of the Independent Units. The Supported Units were developed in response to an SQA consultation on Access 1 provision which showed clear evidence of a need for a new category of Access 1 Unit that would allow candidates that may always need a level of adult support to gain certification within the national framework. The Supported Units were developed for delivery to candidates with a variety of support needs and nine specific levels of support were identified. It was agreed that candidates would be certificated nationally for achieving Supported Units at Access 1 but that the specific support level candidates required in order to achieve the Units, should be recorded and held locally by centres.
N/A Curriculum Descriptors These are learning programmes, similar to SQA Units in terms of their coverage. They were developed by HSDU at the time of Higher Still with the intention that they should be used for candidates who were unable to achieve the requirements of the Access 1 Derived Units. These are NOT certificated by SQA.