National 5 Applications of Mathematics is a relatively new qualification, although it’s essentially a rebranding of National 5 Maths LifeSkills, with similar content. Since it is new, and because it sits alongside the similarly named National 5 Maths, students and parents often have questions about it. This post answers the most common questions and links to useful material.

What is National 5 Applications of Maths?

Let’s start by saying what National 5 Applications of Maths is not – it’s not part of the full National 5 Maths course or an additional requirement for students taking National 5 Maths. National 5 Mathematics (course code C847 75) and National 5 Applications of Mathematics (course code C844 75) are two distinct courses with different objectives and learning intentions.

National 5 Applications of Mathematics, or Nat 5 Apps as it’s commonly referred to, is a rebranding of the legacy course National 5 LifeSkills Mathematics. The focus of that course was to develop practical Mathematical and numeracy skills which could be applied to real-world situations such as finance, travel and everyday geometry. The Apps course has essentially the same content but is assessed by final exam, whereas LifeSkills was assessed continuously at the end of each unit. Achieving the National 5 Maths LifeSkills qualification demonstrated to employers a candidate’s ability to use numerical and basic Mathematical concepts. The National 5 Applications of Mathematics course retains this intention but extends the scope beyond practical skills to, as the name suggests, apply various Mathematical techniques to both everyday life and other disciplines. For example, the skills developed in the Apps course could be applied to science courses, technology or various others. 

Who is National 5 Applications of Maths for?

The SQA state in the course SPECIFICATION that National 5 Maths Apps is ‘a suitable course for learners who have achieved the fourth level of learning across Mathematics experiences and outcomes in the broad general education, or who have attained the National 4 Applications of Mathematics course, or who have equivalent qualifications or experience.’ They further state that ‘this course is particularly suitable for learners who wish to develop the Mathematical reasoning and numerical skills which are useful in other curriculum areas and workplaces.’ I’d say the Apps course is for students who want a Maths qualification at level 5 but for whom the full National 5 Maths course may not be relevant (it teaches more ‘pure’ Maths such as algebra, rather than practical Maths) or may be too challenging. Of course, students should check what qualification they need for their future plans. More about that later.

What is Taught in National 5 Applications of Maths?

The high-level topics included in the Apps course are: Numeracy Skills, Financial Skills, Statistical Skills, Measurement Skills, Geometry Skills and Graphical Data & Probability Skills. Each of these topics contains various subtopics. To understand what’s included under each of these subheadings see the course SPECIFICATION.

How Does it Compare to National 5 Maths?

A common question is how does National 5 Applications of Maths compare to full National 5 Maths. Full National 5 Maths contains a variety of topics but is primarily centered around algebra and algebraic techniques. It contains only a little numeracy and very few practical Mathematical skills which could be used in an everyday scenario. On the other hand, National 5 Maths Apps contains very little algebra and centers around numeracy, numerical techniques and practical Mathematical skills. These are applied to everyday scenarios such as managing money, finance topics, and basic geometry. The two courses are designed to fulfil completely different student needs. However, it has become an increasingly common practice for schools to ask students to take both, something which I wrote about in this POST.

How is National 5 Applications of Maths Assessed?

Unlike National 5 Maths LifeSkills which was assessed continuously with no final exam, National 5 Applications of Maths is assessed by a final exam consisting to two papers – one calculator paper and one non-calculator. In the 2022 exams these lasted 50 minutes for paper 1 and 100 minutes for paper 2. These final exams are not easy and contain a significant amount of content and skills. This is why it’s inappropriate for schools to ask students to take both courses and have two additional final exams to prepare for. One of the greatest challenges for students taking the Apps final exams is the manual calculations required in the non-calculator paper. These can be time-consuming and potentially frustrating. Students taking the final exams should practice numeracy diligently. You can find past exam papers HERE.

Do Universities Accept National 5 Applications of Maths?

Since National 5 Maths Apps is a new qualification it is only now becoming recognised and widely accepted by universities as evidence of a students Mathematical ability. For example, The University of Edinburgh state that ‘if National 5 Applications of Mathematics is accepted this will be stated in our entry requirements in the degree finder.’ ( This implies that some courses accept National 5 Applications of Maths and others require National 5 Maths. At the time of writing this post, Aberdeen, Stirling, Glasgow and The University of the Highlands & Islands accepted National 5 Applications of Maths for entry to their primary teaching degree, and some other universities accept National 5 Applications of Maths as entry into their nursing degrees. Students should check carefully with prospective universities and colleges about which qualification they require. 

Useful Links

These links may help you find additional information about the National 5 Applications of Maths course. Additional resources will be added if useful.

SQA Course Page

SQA Course Specification

National 5 Maths Key Facts

Higher Maths Key Facts

Any More Questions?

Drop us a message if you have any question about the National 5 Applications of Maths course. We’ll get back to you shortly.