Which Highers are Needed for Veterinary Science? Let Us Fill You in...


  1. Which Scottish Highers do I need to be a vet?
  2. Is it hard to get into Glasgow vet school?
  3. Which National 5s should I take for veterinary science?
  4. How are Scottish Highers converted into UCAS points?
  5. What skills do I need to become a vet?


If you love animals, have a knack for maths and science and possess excellent people skills, you may have just what it takes to be a vet. And if you’ve never considered this career path, it’s not too late to start!

Every year in the UK, about 2,400 people apply for 1200 places to study veterinary science, so not only is it a popular course but there’s some stiff competition! While rewarding and fulfilling, being a vet can be a gruelling job and demands extensive medical knowledge, meaning the entry requirements can be tough.

Therefore, we want to offer some insight into applying for veterinary medicine if you’re in Scotland and need to know which Highers are needed for veterinary science. 🐶 🐱vet-at-work

Which Scottish Highers do I need to be a vet?


As with all university courses, the entry requirements for veterinary science vary from place to place so we advise that you do your research and make sure you know exactly what your chosen uni wants from your studies. In the meantime, we’ve listed some veterinary science and animal-related courses below that can be studied at Scotland’s top universities, along with which Scottish Highers you need to apply. 😊 



Required Highers



University of




AABB in one sitting or AAABB

over two sittings

Must get BB from two science or maths subjects.




Must get BB from two science or maths subjects.

University of


BVM&S Veterinary Medicine (5-year programme)

AAAAB by end of S5 and BB at Advanced Higher

Highers: chemistry and biology at A and either


Advanced Highers: chemistry and another science subject at B. maths, applications of mathematics or physics at B.

University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine



(by end of S6) AAAAAB Higher or AAABB Higher + C

Advanced Higher.


Minimum consideration ABBBBB or ABBB + Advanced Higher

Highers: chemistry, biology and maths or physics.


Advanced Highers: chemistry or biology.


Veterinary Medicine & Surgery

(by end of S6)

AAAAB Higher + BB Advanced Higher

Highers: chemistry, biology and physics or maths.


Advanced Highers: chemistry and biology.


Is it hard to get into Glasgow vet school?


The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow is one of the best vet schools in the UK due to having received accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association for its undergraduate study programs. Pair that with its highly-valued teaching and research and you’ve got yourself quite the esteemed establishment.

Does that mean it’s impossible to be accepted? No. Will you need to work hard and get some seriously good grades to get in? Yes. ✍️

Keep your options open and consider applying to a few Scottish vet schools; the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh has also been bestowed with many respected accreditations. 


Which National 5s should I take for veterinary science?


While you may think it’s too early to be considering which N5s (the National 5 qualifications are the Scottish equivalent of the GCSEs) to take if you want to study veterinary medicine at university, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and think ahead for the future.

As you can imagine, the STEM subjects play a big part in being a vet so be aware that your grades in these areas will be taken into consideration.

For example, the University of Edinburgh requires a minimum of C in both physics and English at National 5 level, while Aberdeen states that you should have A-Cs in English, maths and chemistry or physics. 🧬

If you’ve already taken your National 5 exams and didn’t achieve what you were expecting, check out this article on whether you can resit them or maybe you could do your Nat 5 English and maths online.


How are Scottish Highers converted into UCAS points?


If you’ve taken your Scottish Highers and are looking to study veterinary medicine elsewhere in the UK, you may need to know how your Highers translate to UCAS points. Check out the table below and see how they’re converted from SQA Highers and Advanced Highers.

Sidenote, bear in mind that the Higher score and Advanced higher score for one subject can’t be combined, so you’ll need to calculate them separately.

Scottish Higher

UCAS Points










Scottish Advanced Higher

UCAS Points










What skills do I need to become a vet?


While we’d love to say that grades aren’t everything when it comes to becoming a vet, they kind of are. However, you do also need some other skills – aside from the Highers needed for vet school – to succeed and flourish in this career. Think you can tick a few of these off?

  • Customer service

Though being a vet means working with and on animals, you’ll mainly be dealing with their owners and members of the public. Therefore, your customer service and people skills need to be top-notch. Want to be the vet that people recommend to their families and friends? Your love for animals must extend to humans too. 💞

  • Verbal communication
While medical speak and technical jargon may seem perfectly clear to you and your colleagues, your customers might need a little help when you’re explaining their pet’s ailments, treatments and procedures. Keep it clear but make sure to include all the relevant information.

You’ll often be handling people who are sad, worried, angry or
frustrated, so being able to deliver good and bad news in a respectful and empathetic manner is also super important because we all know how important pets are to us. 🥰

  • Patience
As with all medical professions, things can get stressful to say the least. Remaining patient and calm will not only help keep you at ease, but also your colleagues, and most importantly, the animals and their owners. 😊 🐰

  • Judgment and decision making
Pet owners will be relying on you to know what’s wrong and what to do about it, so not only does being a vet rely on your medical knowledge and expertise, but also on your ability to make the right decision and act accordingly. Sometimes you’ll need to make a tough decision, but if it’s in the best interest of the animal, it’s your job to do the right thing.

  • Computer and software knowledge

As practical as being a vet is, there’s a fair amount of admin involved so having a proficient knowledge of computers and various software packages will be a huge help. And if you can pick up new programs quickly, even better! 🖥️

  • Enthusiasm

If it isn’t already obvious, enthusiasm for animals and their welfare is paramount if you want to become a vet. Not only will this make people want to put their trust in you, but there’s no better feeling than being great at a job you actually love! 💘

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