The Advanced Higher is an optional qualification which forms part of the Scottish secondary education system. It is normally taken by students aged around 16-18 after they have completed Highers, which are the main university entrance qualification.
An Advanced Higher is the highest certificate offered by the Scottish Qualification Authority as part of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. An Advanced Higher is essentially a simulation of the first year of university in that particular subject; this is the reason that Advanced Highers can be used for second year University entry.
Universities in Scotland traditionally tended to take students with only NQ Higher or A-level qualifications, but many have since begun to take students with qualifications gained elsewhere in Britain or, as with the University of Glasgow, for example, an International Baccalaureate and US-American qualifications such as a High School Diploma in combination of SAT/ACT scores and SAT Subject Tests or Advanced Placement exams.
Advanced Highers were introduced to replace the Sixth Year Studies Certificate (often abbreviated to CSYS or just SYS). The final CSYS exams were taken by students at the end of the Sixth Form studies. In recent years, a noticeable decrease of 2.4% in those taking Advanced Highers has prompted concern in certain areas.
The UCAS tariff of valuing qualifications for university entry has increased its scores for Advanced Highers at A, B and C in comparison to the past. Advanced Highers now attract more UCAS tariff points than A-Levels at the same grades.
Also, research studies have revealed a major gap of performance on Advanced Highers examinations between different schools sectors (i.e. private schools' students attaining, on average, higher results than state schools' students).
Some English Universities, such as Oxford University and Cambridge University, have begun to take into account the wider syllabus involved in studying Advanced Highers and have been giving slightly lower conditions for entry into their institutions. Oxford University's admissions forms require schools to comment on the percentage of students achieving the top grades in examinations, presumably to provide contextual background to the achievements of a particular student. The question is framed in terms of the percentage of candidates achieving AAA+ at A-level and AAB+ for Advanced Higher, possibly indicating that greater value is attributed to the Advanced Higher However, Churchill College Cambridge was/is the first Oxbridge College to state that their typical offer for Scottish students will be A1, A1, A2 at Advanced Higher. (http://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduates/typical_offers.php/)
The following subjects are available at Advanced Higher: