National 5s follow on from the Nationals 1-4 you take in your junior phase at school. Most students choose approximately 8 subjects to study at National 5 - English and Maths is compulsory, while most schools will also ask you to do a science, social science and modern language. However, what your school offers depends on its resources and timetabling. You might be able to also choose classics, expressive arts, maths, humanities and IT.
Scotland use a "higher still" programme whereby you undertake your Nationals at a time that suits your ability. Therefore, you may be "fast-tracked" and sit a couple of subjects early or may take some along with your Highers in S5, or you may do both.
To pass the course, you need to pass unit assessments, as you have done previously, which are marked by your teacher as pass or fail, but also external assessments. These include an exam and/or coursework, such as assignments, portfolios, or practical activities.
For each subject you will receive an overall grade of A to D or 'No Award'. However, if you receive a 'No Award', yet have passed units within the course you will obtain credits for all those passed and will also be able to achieve a formal qualification on your National 4s on the successful completion of the Added Value Unit Assessment for National 4.