Using SQA unit assessments

Students and teacher in classroom setting gathered around a desk

This page contains information for teachers and lecturers on delivering unit assessments in National Qualifications, including National 4 Added Value Unit assessments. When delivering unit assessments in session 2016/17, it is important that you refer to the following documents:

Unit assessment support

For every National unit, we have published a corresponding unit assessment support pack that shows a unit-by-unit approach to assessment. For National courses, we have also published unit assessment support packs that show combined and portfolio approaches.

Unit assessment support packs give examples of assessments that you can use with your candidates to produce assessment evidence (candidates' work) that meets the outcomes and assessment standards for the Unit. The packs also detail the conditions for assessment (how the assessment should be carried out) and show how the assessment evidence should be judged.

Is it mandatory to use the unit assessments provided by SQA?

No, it is not mandatory to use the unit assessments that we have provided, as these are examples only. You have the option to:

  • use the unit assessments provided
  • adapt the unit assessments to suit the needs of your candidates
  • or use them as a basis to develop your own unit assessments

National 4 Added Value Unit assessments

Added Value Unit assessment support packs contain assessments that you can carry out with your candidates for the National 4 Added Value Unit. You have the option to either use the Added Value Unit assessments provided by us, or develop your own. If you choose to develop your own assessment, you will need to make sure that there are opportunities for candidates to produce work that meets the evidence requirements and the outcomes and assessment standards for the Added Value Unit – as detailed in the Added Value Unit Specification.

How do I access the unit assessment support packs?

Unit assessment support packs are available from our secure website and you can arrange access to them through your SQA Co-ordinator. They must be stored securely and treated as confidential.

How do I access National 4 Added Value Unit assessment support packs?

Added Value Unit assessment support packs are available from our secure website and you can arrange access to them through your SQA Co-ordinator. They must be stored securely and treated as confidential.

What are the assessment conditions I need to follow?

The unit assessment support packs outline any specific assessment conditions that need to be followed, such as:

  • Open book - where candidates may have access to reference books during the assessment
  • Closed book - where no reference books are permitted during the assessment

However, for mose units there are generally no restrictions on the assessment conditions to be put in place. So unless otherwise specified in the document, you can decide which assessment conditions are most appropriate for individual candidates.

Do candidates need to provide one piece of evidence for each assessment standard?

No. A single task or activity can cover several (or all) of the outcomes and assessment standards for the unit -  it could even cover the outcomes and assessment standards for several units.

To produce a piece of evidence for each assessment standard would lead to over-assessment and it is important to allow candidates sufficient time for each unit, as well as sufficient time to prepare for course assessment where applicable.

How do I judge the assessment evidence?

Unit assessment support packs contain 'Judging Evidence Tables' which provide commentary on how candidates' work is to be judged against each assessment standard. You should use these tables when assessing candidates' work and indicate on their work if the assessment standards have been met.

Can I produce my own marking scheme?

Yes, you may produce your own marking scheme if you find it helpful, and you could do this by assigning marks to each assessment standard. However, this approach should only be used as a guide to help you identify if the candidate has met all of the required standards. Candidates should not be given percentage scores or marks out of 100 - they should continue to be assessed as pass or fail only.

Can candidates be reassessed if they fail the unit?

Yes, you may reassess candidates if they fail the unit, including candidates who fail the National 4 Added Value Unit. We advise that there should be one – or in exceptional circumstances, two – reassessment opportunities for each unit. However, it is at the discretion of the centre to decide the most appropriate approach.

Some unit assessment support packs also specify the conditions for reassessment, and these must be followed.

What is the purpose of internal verification?

All internally assessed Units, including the National 4 Added Value Unit, must be internally verified by centres. Internal verification ensures that all internal assessments are valid, reliable, attainable, unbiased and fair, and are consistently applied for all candidates. Guidance is provided in the publication Internal Verification: A Guide for Centres offering SQA Qualifications

I would like to develop my own unit assessment, what are the key things I should consider?

If you develop your own Unit assessment, the assessment must ensure opportunities for candidates to produce work which meets the outcomes and assessment standards, and the evidence requirements for the unit, as detailed in the Unit Specification.

Candidates' work can take a number of different forms and may involve a combination of assessment methods, so you should use your professional judgement and knowledge of your candidates to select the most appropriate assessment activity.

Should I have my assessment checked by SQA to make sure it is fit for purpose?

Yes, if you produce your own assessment we strongly advise that you submit it to us for prior verification - where an SQA appointee will check over it to make sure it is fit for purpose and meets National Standards. We recommend that you do this before using the assessment with your candidates. However, if you have not produced your own assessment but have instead modified or adapted the context of the assessment provided in the Unit assessment support pack, then you do not need to submit it to us for prior verification. We consider this to be a minor change only (provided that there are no changes to mandatory content, the advice in the Unit assessment support pack has been followed and the level of demand / difficulty has been maintained).

Find out more about prior verification.

Will SQA edit my assessment for me?

No. We will not proof or edit any assessments that you submit to us; the purpose of prior verification is to check that the assessment is fit for purpose. Your assessment will be returned to you in the original format you have used, including any spelling or grammatical errors.

Has SQA published any examples of unit assessments or exemplars that show how units should be assessed?

Yes, we have published examples of unit assessments which we have prior verified and you can use these assessments with your candidates. They are available from our secure website and you can arrange access to through your SQA Co-ordinator.

We have also published Understanding Standards materials for National units. These materials contain examples of candidate evidence, along with commentaries that explain why the evidence has or has not met the required standards for the unit.

Find out more about Understanding Standards.