Awarding 2022 - Exams/contingency plans

Note: It is still the clear intention for the 2022 SQA exams to take place in April – June. SQA has continued to closely monitor the levels of disruption to learning and teaching across the country, including levels of learner and staff absence. As a result, following discussion with our partners across the education system, and agreement by the SQA Board, we have moved to Scenario 2. This means we have published some revision support for learners to help them with their revision during the final run up to exams.

Where can I access the revision support for each course?

Revision support documents are available from the National Qualification subject pages of our website at www.sqa.org.uk/nqsubjects.

Learners can also access the revision support from Ushare — our free online platform where users can share open-source revision materials and teaching resources that support SQA qualifications.

Visit Ushare.

What do schools, colleges and training providers need to do with the revision support?

The revision support is primarily aimed at learners, however schools, colleges and training providers have a critical role to play in supporting learners and helping them understand how to use the support materials to maximise their exam performance.

Why do different courses have different types of revision support?

This is because every course is different. Each course contains its own unique content and is assessed in a way that reflects that content and the specific skills, knowledge and understanding that learners develop.

For example, some courses focus on performance or practical-based assessments, while others are more exam-focused. Some courses focus on developing and demonstrating skills (such as courses in Modern Languages), some focus more on developing and using subject knowledge and skills (such as sciences and Mathematics), while others have a mix (such as History or Geography).

In some courses, the exam will assess learners on all the content from the course, while in others the exam will sample different content from across the course. Our revision support reflects these differences.

Why isn’t SQA publishing revision support for all courses?

We are providing revision support for all courses that have an exam. Some courses will not have revision support either because they don’t have an exam or because we removed the exam for 2022 as part of the modifications to assessment.

Why didn’t SQA publish the revision support sooner?

It was not possible to finalise the revision support until we had finalised the 2022 exam question papers – particularly for those subjects where we are providing advance notice of topics, contexts or content that will or will not be in the exam.

It was also important that learners were given the opportunity to complete the learning for their courses, as providing this information too far in advance could have resulted in the narrowing of learning and teaching. This could have negatively impacted learners’ breadth of course knowledge and understanding, and the next steps in their learning.

Why isn’t SQA providing advance notice of what will or won’t be in the exam for all subjects?

We have published information on the broad topics, contexts or content that will or not be in the exam for some courses where the exam does not assess all the course content. It is not possible to take this same approach for courses where the exam already assesses learners on all the course content or where the topics or content cannot be separated easily.

For those courses, the modifications we made in August will have already reduced the content and skills that learners will be assessed on this year. For example, in some courses, we have reduced the length of the question paper, or we have made more of the question paper topics optional. In other courses, we removed coursework this year.

Where we cannot give advance notice of what will or will not be in the exam, we have published study guides that give hints and tips on how to tackle different types of questions. For a small number of courses, learners will be allowed to prepare a short study note to take with them into the exam.

Does moving to Scenario 2 mean the exams are going ahead or could they still be cancelled?

It is still the clear intention for the 2022 exams to take place during April to June. The Scottish Government will only cancel the exams if public health advice restricts physical gatherings at the time when the exams are due to take place.

If exams are cancelled, when will that decision be made and communicated?

Exams will not be cancelled unless public health restrictions mean that physical gatherings are not permitted at the time of exams. This decision cannot be taken until nearer the time when the public health situation is clear.

Will SQA make any further changes to the 2022 exams or coursework?

No, we have already made significant changes to exams and coursework (which we refer to as modifications) that were published at the start of session 2021-22. We are not making any further modifications to exams or coursework this session, as we need to maintain the credibility of the qualifications for learners and end users (including colleges, universities, training providers and employers).

Will SQA move the exam dates to give learners more time to catch up on missed learning due to illness or self-isolation

We cannot move the exam dates for several reasons, including allowing enough time for marking to take place, and for learners to be informed of their results in good time to make decisions about their next steps. For example, some learners will need their results to confirm a place at college or university, or on a training or employment programme.

What happens if the exams are cancelled?

If the exams are cancelled, we will move to Scenario 3. This means teachers, lecturers and training providers will be asked to determine a provisional result for each learner, based on their professional judgement of alternative assessment evidence.

This alternative assessment evidence is assessments that learners have already completed during the course, such as prelims, practical activities, performances, and class tests – and which teachers and lecturers have already used as a basis for determining estimate grades.

There will be no requirement for schools, colleges, and training providers to undertake additional assessments if the exams are cancelled, as this would place excess workload on teachers, lecturers, training providers and learners.

View more information about each of the scenarios.

Do teachers and lecturers need to share learners’ estimates with them? If so, when should they do this?

Yes, teachers, lecturers, and training providers should share their learners’ estimates with them individually and discuss how they arrived at their decision before submitting the estimate to SQA.

The estimate must be based on evidence gathered from assessments the learner has already completed throughout the course.

View guidance on evidence for estimates in session 2021-22.

Who are the subject experts that will determine the grade boundaries for each course?

They are senior appointees – practising teachers and lecturers – who will work with SQA staff and senior managers to ensure a consistent approach to determining grade boundaries for each course.