Update on National Qualifications 2022-23

Wednesday 16 November 2022

SQA has today (Wednesday 16 November) provided schools, colleges and training providers with an update on the approach to awarding National Qualifications in the 2022-23 session, as well as information on the decisions still to come.

The update follows confirmation in April that modifications to assessment, made to take into account disruption to learning caused by the global pandemic, will remain in place for this year.

The update includes information on:

Assessment of National Courses in 2022-23

Modifications to assessment

On 28 April, SQA confirmed that the modifications to assessment in National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, as well as some National 3 courses and freestanding units, would remain in place for session 2022-23. This decision was taken in view of the ongoing impact on learning and teaching caused by COVID-19 disruption.

All modifications to course assessments for 2022-23 are already in place and there are no plans to provide any further advanced notice of Question Paper content or contexts.

Modification summary documents are available for every subject that has modified assessments. These documents are for teachers, lecturers and training practitioners and they explain how the courses will be assessed. For some subjects, they also include information on modifications to freestanding units.

As with last year, the types of modifications depend on the subject and may include removing or reducing elements of an exam or coursework, providing more choice or time during an assessment or removing a topic from the exam. 

Find each subject’s modification summary document for 2022-23.

Decisions around whether to continue using the modifications in session 2023-24 will be discussed with partners and communicated later this session.


Exams are planned to take place in 2023, as they did in 2022. They will start on Monday 24 April and finish on Thursday 1 June 2023. As a public holiday is due to take place on Monday 8 May to mark the King’s coronation, SQA will review the published timetable and provide a further update. While discussions about how this affects the exam timetable are ongoing, SQA has today confirmed that the start and end dates of the timetable will not change. 

View the 2023 exam timetable.


Significant progress was made in Scotland during the 2022 exams in returning to pre-pandemic standards. However, we recognise that the impact of the pandemic is still being felt by learners and practitioners. Our approach to setting standards and grading in 2023 will therefore continue to be sensitive to the extent of this ongoing impact. The approach will be grounded in evidence and take into consideration the significant modifications made to National Course assessments.

The delivery of National Courses

SQA has made modifications to assessment only – we have not removed any content from National Courses. Teachers and lecturers should continue to deliver the full course content to allow learners the opportunity to develop the full range of skills, knowledge and understanding.

For example, if a coursework assessment has been removed, learners should still complete activities during class time to develop their knowledge and skills that would normally be assessed through the coursework.

This can support learners when completing their assessments this year, as there may be instances where they can draw on their knowledge and experience of other parts of the course. For example, exposure to practical work in science can help learners tackle certain questions in the exam.

It will equip learners with the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they will need when progressing to further learning, training or employment. In addition, it may provide teachers and lecturers with evidence of how well these skills have developed, which may be useful in supporting a learner’s estimate.

Support for learners 

Support services in 2022-23

Services will be in place to support learners who:

Before decisions are made about how these services will operate, SQA is carrying out an evaluation of all the 2021-22 arrangements including the Appeals 2022 and Exam Exceptional Circumstances Consideration services.  

The evaluation will play an important part in informing discussions with the National Qualifications group around what type of services we will take forward this session. 

We expect to have the outcome of this evaluation by the end of January 2023. 

Your National Qualifications booklet

SQA has published ‘Your National Qualifications’ – a booklet for learners that tells them what they need to do when completing coursework. It also contains some useful information about preparing for exams. 

Printed copies have been sent to every school and college to be distributed to learners.

A second publication, ‘Your Exams’, will be available at the end of March and will provide learners with what they need to know about preparing for and sitting exams. This will also include exam and study tips within the booklet instead of publishing subject specific study resources.

e-Sgoil study support

e-Sgoil is continuing to develop its offering of online study support resources for learners working towards National Qualifications. These include subject-specific webinars.

For more information, visit e-Sgoil study support 

Working in partnership across Scottish education

The National Qualifications Group will remain for 2022-23. This group provides invaluable advice to SQA and the wider education community to help inform decisions that affect learners, schools, colleges and training providers. Membership includes representation from: Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES); Colleges Scotland; Education Scotland; Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS); National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS); School Leaders Scotland (SLS); Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS); Scottish Government; Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA); and Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP).

We will continue to work together to build on what performed well in 2021-22. 

Contingency arrangements 

As we progress through session 2022-23, we remain mindful that we are continuing to live with COVID-19, and that this can be unpredictable. We also know that this is a concern for schools, colleges, training providers, learners and their parents/carers.

While the clear expectation is that exams will go ahead, SQA recognises that contingency planning is important and sensible. We are continuing to discuss contingencies with the National Qualifications 2023 Group. As with the contingency for 2021-22, if exams were to be cancelled due to public health advice, teachers and lecturers would be asked to determine provisional results by using their professional judgement of evidence that shows each learner’s skills, knowledge and understanding. 

Provisional results would be based on in-year assessments that normally take place during the session, such as prelims, practical activities, performances, and class tests. Teachers and lecturers will gather evidence to support estimates, as normal, referring to our Understanding Standards materials to help ensure evidence is valid and reliable.

We will continue to provide all schools, colleges, and training providers, as well as learners, parents and carers, with information about National Qualifications in 2022-23. 

To stay up to date, please visit our National Qualifications section.