Assessment Arrangements Toolkit

What is the assessment arrangements toolkit and how can it help me?

The Assessment Arrangements Toolkit is designed to help you use effective practice in providing assessment arrangements (we’ll use ‘AA’ throughout) in internal and external assessments. It is aimed at all staff members within a school, college or training provider who are involved in delivering NQ assessment arrangements. This includes teachers, lecturers and senior managers. It will help your centre with gathering evidence for, and verifying, assessment arrangement requests.

The toolkit provides you with examples and templates that you can either use or adapt to suit your centre’s needs. Please note that these are working documents from centres. We are providing them as they are (with alterations for data confidentiality and to ensure content fits with current SQA guidance), so please be aware that they might not meet our accessibility requirements.

Please note: using these resources is not mandatory. We are providing them for your information only. They will encourage you to reflect on your own practice and review your centre’s policy and procedures. It will also allow you to make confident judgements by ensuring that you are gathering the most appropriate evidence to support learners across their subjects.

There are full details of SQA’s policy on assessment arrangements in Assessment Arrangements Explained and Quality Assurance of Assessment Arrangements. Details of where to access all documents and forms related to assessment arrangements on the various SQA webpages and portals can be found in the section at the foot of this page.

We also recommend completing our short SQA Academy training course on Assessment Arrangements.


You can complete the self-evaluation checklist on pages 7–9 of Quality Assurance of Assessments Arrangements (228 KB) to check whether your current assessment arrangements process and procedures meet our requirements.

The key points in this checklist are also listed below under each relevant section.

The stages of assessment arrangements

This toolkit will take you through the following stages of assessment arrangements:

  1. Identifying the learner’s assessment needs
  2. Determining appropriate arrangements
  3. Verifying needs

Visit each section for further information.

It is important that you document all key activities in the assessment arrangements process. This will help you to ensure that learners receive relevant and appropriate support  support, and show that an effective internal quality assurance system is in place to verify your decisions.

It will also help in conversations with parents and carers, and learners, on your decision to offer support – or not.

Every centre should have an overall policy on assessment arrangements (ask your SQA co-ordinator). Here are some examples from other centres:

This stage of the AA toolkit focuses on documentation that records a learner’s difficulty or disability and how it affects learning and teaching. Generally, the centre’s Support for Learning (SfL) team store the record of a learner’s disability/difficulty and personal details. It is up to each centre to decide where to store evidence.

You should have access to this information about the learner’s disability/difficulty before delivering a lesson to a new class. Here’s examples of pupil profiles from secondary school:

Wherever possible, a learner’s disability/difficulty in accessing an assessment should have been identified before they embark on a qualification, though in some cases it may only become apparent during the course of study.

Remember that the learner’s disability/difficulty could be identified by the learner, by learning support staff, or by the teacher/lecturer/trainer. If you think there may be a learner who needs support in your class, speak to the SfL lead in your centre.

Here are examples of forms that centres use to explore how the disability/difficulty might affect learning and teaching.

Stage 1 questions asked in the self-evaluation checklist

3 Documentary evidence of the candidate’s disability / additional support needs and how this generally affects the learning and teaching situation

  • Do you have the relevant information/evidence of the nature and extent of the learner’s disability or additional support need?
  • Do you have evidence of how the difficulty has impacted on teaching and learning and that subject teachers/course lecturers are involved in relevant discussions and in recording relevant information?
  • Is your evidence of how the learner’s difficulty impacts on teaching and learning current?

Any assessment arrangement should help the learner in their everyday lessons and help them demonstrate their attainment without compromising the integrity of the qualification during assessment.

If you are in any doubt as to the specific arrangements that could be put in place for a learner, either during their course or during assessments, please speak to your SQA co-ordinator, and contact the assessment arrangements team if further help is required.

What is my role as a teacher/lecturer/trainer?

SQA asks that the centre keeps documentary evidence of the learner’s varying needs across all their subjects. We look for consultation and negotiation with subject staff, highlighting that your centre has considered different assessment situations between subjects and that you are making assessment arrangement requests accordingly. You should be actively involved in gathering this information.

To give you an idea of specific examples of difficulties and what arrangements could be put in place, have a look at the examples throughout the Assessment Arrangements Explained document.

Gathering evidence

Here are examples of tools that centres use to help with gathering evidence for assessment arrangements.

Every situation is different, but we would never request that you remove a vital support that is already used regularly simply to prove that the learner required it for the purposes of submitting an Assessment Arrangement request.

In many cases, subject specialist commentary is required to explain how the assessment arrangements was used and what impact it had on the learner. We don’t require that an assessment arrangement results in an improvement in the learner’s mark. This example shows different ways that centres have developed resources to share good practice with their staff when writing comments.

Extra time is an assessment arrangement that may provide an unfair advantage for a learner if the need has not been clearly evidenced. This case study shows a range of coursework evidence that one centre gathered from different subjects to support their request for extra time. The evidence includes a mixture of annotated coursework and forms with comments which highlight the impact of extra time. There are also examples of resources that other centres use when gathering evidence for extra time.

Stage 2 questions asked in the self-evaluation checklist

4 Documentary evidence of need for current support, how this is met, and how it relates to the assessment arrangements requested

  • Does your evidence show that decisions are made on the proposed assessment arrangement and based on the current support provided in teaching and learning?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff are involved in relevant discussions and in recording relevant information?
  • Do you have evidence to show that the assessment arrangement is effective and removes the disadvantage?
  • Is your evidence that the assessment arrangements provided meet the candidate’s needs current?

5 Documentary evidence that varying needs across subjects have been taken into account

  • Do you have evidence available for each course?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff have been involved in gathering evidence?
  • Do you have evidence that subject staff support the assessment arrangements proposed?

6 Documentary evidence for particular assessment arrangements

  • Do you have appropriate evidence of how a particular assessment arrangement has been determined? For example, for extra time, does this include (i) evidence indicating that extra time is appropriate and (ii) evidence that a specific amount of extra time is appropriate?

Formally verifying the learner’s need for an assessment arrangement is extremely important for two reasons:

  • You need to be assured that your decision to provide, or not to provide, a particular assessment arrangement can be justified, and is in line with both SQA requirements and relevant equality legislation. You should also make a note if the learner chooses not to use the assessment arrangement.
  • SQA needs to be satisfied that centres have in place their own robust internal assessment arrangement verification system which ensures that all relevant information and evidence has been gathered and considered before submitting the assessment arrangement request. This information will be included in your assessment arrangements policy.

Here are some examples of different ways that centres use to record their verification meetings.

Stage 3 questions asked in the self-evaluation checklist

1 Documentary evidence of the internal assessment arrangements verification meeting

  • Do you hold formal assessment arrangements verification meetings to ensure that all relevant information and evidence has been gathered and considered in determining the provision of assessment arrangements for learners in both internal and external assessments?
  • Do you have a formal minute/note of the meeting that has been signed and dated (electronically or by hand)?
  • Is it clear which assessments your assessment arrangements verification meeting are for?
  • Are the meetings held at an appropriate time in the year?
  • Are appropriate centre staff present?
  • Are requests for the provision of assessment arrangements formally authorised by a member of senior management staff?
  • Is this senior member of staff independent from the learning support/equality and inclusion structure in the centre?
  • Do you have a procedure for making late decisions?

2 Documentary evidence of confirmation from the learner that they have agreed to (i) the provision of assessment arrangements, and (ii) the centre submitting the request on their behalf and have been made aware that personal information will be shared with us

  • If your learner is under 16, has an appropriate adult (for example parent/carer) countersigned for them?
  • Has your learner signed the documentary evidence in all cases?
  • Is it clear to your learner which assessments they will receive assessment arrangements for?
  • Do you have a record of any assessment arrangements a learner has refused?

7 Documentary evidence of a whole-centre system for the management of SQA assessment arrangements which is supported by senior management

  • Do you have evidence that there is a whole-centre policy in relation to the provision of assessment arrangements?
  • Do you have evidence of dissemination of this policy to all relevant staff?

Communicating about assessment arrangements with learners, parents and carers

Many centres now also provide a leaflet to explain the assessment arrangements system to learners, parents and carers. This can be shared with them when sending out the agreement form, at the beginning of term, or on the centre’s website. Here are some examples of different ways that centres have communicated with learners, parents and carers about assessment arrangements. It may also help learners, and their parents and carers, to understand what the centre has to do to meet SQA requirements.

AAR system

An email with log-in details is sent to SQA Co-ordinator in Oct every year.

This AAR system is only for submitting AA requests for external assessments (ie N5-AH QPs). AAs for any other N5-AH components, or other courses, should be processed through your internal AA system and recorded on your internal AA tracking system but not sent to SQA.

AAR system user guide

Step-by-step guide on how to submit requests for N5-AH QPs using the SQA AAR system.

AA Toolkit

AA Toolkit page

Examples of forms and documents currently used by centres that can be adapted to meet the circumstances of your centre.

Additional Guidance for use when requesting Adapted QPs and Artwork

Additional Guidance for use when requesting Adapted QPs and Artwork

Admin & IT adapted coursework

Assessment Arrangements enquiries

Adapted coursework assessment in Administration and IT: We can provide adapted versions of coursework assessment tasks for N5 Administration and IT, on request. These requests must be submitted to SQA by 20 December. Please do not request these through the AAR system.

Assessment Arrangements Explained

AA Explained document (1.12 MB)

Principles of AA; Types of AA with examples.

Assessment arrangements guide for learners

AA Guide for Learners

SQA info formatted as Q&A and info about AAs.

Braille question papers

Braille question papers

How to request a braille paper and link to print copies of braille papers (PCBs) that have previously been created.

Candidate Agreement Form

Assessment Arrangements Candidate Form

Template from SQA containing wording that meets GDPR requirements for sharing information. This form can be added to if you want to personalise it for use in your centre.

Digital question papers

Digital question papers

This page includes sections on DQP Guidance; DQP past papers that centres can use; Info on subject specific data Booklets and prescribed texts (Application of Mathematics, Chemistry. Engineering Science, Latin, Statistics); Digital Answer books for download – subject-specific and generic; coversheets for H Accounting and N5 AIT; 2 case studies of how schools used DQPs with challenges and benefits.

EAL spreadsheet

Requests for this arrangement should not be made using the AAR system.

Instead, they must be submitted to SQA on the EAL: spreadsheet which is available, along with submission guidance, on the SQA Secure website

EAL - How to submit a request to SQA

Requests for EALs must be submitted to SQA on the form which is available on the secure website, which requires a login. Contact your SQAC to discuss access to the SQA Secure portal.

The form and submission guidance are available at SQA Secure > NQ > Assessment Arrangements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Assessment Arrangements FAQ

Q&A are structured under the headings: AA; Aar system; Evidence; EAL; Miscellaneous.

ICT security checklist

Self assessment checklist that lists the conditions that centres have to meet for all learners using ICT during external exams.

Information on the appropriate use of Speech Recognition Software in SQA's external examinations.

Information on the appropriate use of Speech Recognition Software in SQA's external examinations.

Mental Health Case Study

Case Study on Mental Health

Information about the strategies one secondary school took to respond to the increase in pupils experiencing mental health problems in relation to exams.

Non-AA ICT spreadsheet

Requests for arrangements for candidates sitting N5-AH QPs who do not have additional support needs but use ICT (eg due to illegible handwriting) should not be made using the AAR system. Instead, they should be submitted to SQA using the form (ICT without spellchecker and Transcription without correction requests 202*) provided on the SQA Secure portal, where guidance on the completion and submission of the form is available.

Non-AA ICT spreadsheet - user guide

Guide to completing the Non-AA ICT spreadsheet.


Quality assurance of assessment arrangements in internal and external assessments

Quality Assurance

Details about the 7 criteria that centres are audited on: self-evaluation checklist

There are separate documents for schools and for colleges

Subject specific guidance - Core Skills; ESOL; Modern Languages and Gaelic (Learners); Music

Subject Specific Resources

Information about AAs that are not allowed for these specific subjects, as they would compromise the integrity of the Skills, Knowledge or Understanding (SKU) being assessed.

SQA Academy course on AA

SQA Academy

You will need to set up an account to log in if this is the first time you access the SQA Academy site.

Use of a bilingual dictionary for English as an additional language (EAL) candidates

Use of a bilingual dictionary for English as an additional language (EAL) candidates

Requests for arrangements for candidates sitting N5-AH QPs who have English as an additional language should not be made using the AAR system.

Using sign language in exams

Using sign language in exams

Link to SQA policy 'Using sign in exams' and 'Good Practice in assessing deaf candidates' documents. There are exemplar questions from the 2014 National 5 examination questions in Biology, Chemistry and History.

Visiting Assessment: AA requests

Assessment Arrangements enquiries

You must contact the Assessment Arrangements team to discuss the arrangements required.

Further information about visiting Assessment can be found in Guide for Co-ordinators on SQA Connect.

Thanks to all centres who contributed to this resource. This toolkit will be continuously updated as centres share their practice with us. If you have any questions, or have something you would like to be included in the toolkit, then please contact your Liaison Manager.