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SQA Exam FAQs

SQA Exam FAQs

This year, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was announced on 19 March that the SQA exams would be cancelled. Instead, an alternative certification model was developed, based on teacher estimates which were subject to moderation by the SQA.

However, since results day on Tuesday 4th August, both the SQA and the Scottish Government have acknowledged that, despite trying to ensure that the system was fair and credible, they did not get it right for all young people and have apologised. They announced on 11 August that the results will now be based solely on the estimates provided by schools and colleges for pupils who were downgraded.

We are extremely aware of the distress this process may have caused not only our young people but also their parents and carers. If your child attends Alloa Academy, Alva Academy, Lornshill Academy or CSSSS, and you have any questions about the change to the SQA's process, please see our FAQs below for further information. In addition to this information, support and advice is being given by each school to their own communities.

My child had their estimated grade by their teacher downgraded by SQA. Does this mean that their grade will now be automatically increased?

Yes. It has been confirmed that all downgraded awards will be withdrawn and that the results will now be based solely on the estimates provided by schools for those pupils who were downgraded. These pupils will receive new certificates from SQA with the change to the grading.

My child received an upgrade as part of their results. Will this be affected?

No. It has been confirmed that results of those learners who were awarded a higher grade during the process will be maintained. There will be no change to their results.

My child will now meet the terms of their conditional offer for college/university this year. What do I do now?

The SQA will inform UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) of all revised results, resulting in your child then being contacted directly by their chosen university/college. The Scottish Government has confirmed that they will provide additional places, to ensure that there will be no young person who cannot secure a place they would otherwise have gained.

When will my child receive their new SQA certificate?

It has been confirmed that revised SQA certificates will be with candidates on Tuesday 8th September

When will my school be able to confirm my child's estimated grades?

Schools will be sharing this information with young people as soon as possible after the schools return.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the estimate provided by my child's school?

You can speak to the school in the first instance and they will be able to provide you with the estimate submitted as well as the reasons for that professional judgement. The Depute First Minister stated on 11 August that "although there is no longer a need for an appeals process, there remains a need for the option of an appeal in some circumstances". On Friday 14th August SQA shared their revised appeals process, which outlines three grounds upon which schools can submit an appeal:

  1.  If an administrative error has been made.
  2.  If a candidate's estimate was affected by discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
  3.  If there has been an error within SQA's internal processes for confirming results with schools.

On Tuesday 18th August the SQA gave further details on their revised appeals process. Priority appeals for candidates who need to confirm a university or college place must be submitted by their school as soon as possible, and no later than 25th August, with details of each candidate's conditional offer. SQA will update UCAS of these outcomes by 4th September.

All other appeals must be submitted by schools by 7th September.

All appeals will be looked at by a panel of SQA Senior Officers, and signed off by an SQA Director. 
There is no date specified at this point when schools will be advised of the outcome, but this will be in writing, and be one of two possible outcomes:

1. Appeal successful. The estimate provided by your child's school will now be awarded.
2. Appeal unsuccessful. Reasons for this will be given by SQA.

As always, if you have any further questions, please speak to your child's school, who will be able to advise and support you as a member of their school community.

My child is now in S4/5/6. What will the SQA arrangements be for 2021?

The arrangements for this year have not been confirmed yet. On Friday 14th August, SQA launched a consultation to gather feedback on possible changes to course assessments at N5, Higher and Advanced Higher and also on adjustments to the 2021 exam timetable. The consultation closes on 24th August. The 2021 exam timetable is planned for Monday 26th April - Thursday 3rd June, but this will be confirmed along with revised course assessments during the week beginning 31st August.

If there are no exams next year, will my child face the same issues as there were this year?

The Scottish Government is very clear that there cannot be a repeat of what has happened this year. They have thanked all children and young people for their incredible resilience shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and highlighted that the Scottish Government's defining mission is to do all they can to improve the life chances of young people, particularly those in poverty. The Education Secretary John Swinney has commissioned two independent reviews to scrutinise elements of the process at all levels this year and to provide recommendations, taking into account lessons learned and looking at best practice globally.

Further information can be found on: