SQA confirms services for learners sitting National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2023

Wednesday 1 February 2023

A free and direct appeals service, which will give all learners the right to request a review of their marked exam papers, will be available later this year, SQA has confirmed. 

In addition, an exceptional circumstances service will be in place for those who are unable to sit an exam or whose performance is impacted by personal circumstances.  This will be based on a review of alternative assessment evidence provided by a learner’s school or college.  

The services have been developed following an extensive evaluation of the exams and appeals services that were in place in 2022, with more than 3,500 learners, teachers, lecturers, parents, carers and principal assessors feeding back their views and experiences. 

Following careful consideration of those views, and consultation with stakeholders and users on options for this year, the Appeals 2023 service will be different to the service used last year, with no requirement for alternative assessment evidence. Instead, learners who believe their final grade is incorrect will be able to request a review of their SQA-marked exams and coursework. 

Where a learner cannot sit an exam for reasons beyond their control, or if they have been affected by a personal circumstance such as a medical condition or bereavement, they can seek support from their school or college to request a review of their alternative assessment evidence under the Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service.  

SQA will continue to provide a priority service for learners who need their appeal outcomes quickly to confirm a conditional offer for university, further education, training, or employment. This will also be free of charge. 

More information will be shared with learners, schools and colleges, parents and carers on how to use the services in the coming weeks. 

Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive of SQA and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said: 'The vast majority of learners get the right result first time.  However, it is important that we offer a service for learners to appeal their results. We also want to ensure that those learners who have faced exceptional circumstances are supported.  Appeals 2023 and the Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service are part of a continuing package of support for learners developed by SQA and the wider education community. 

'I would like to thank the thousands of learners, teachers, lecturers, principal assessors, parents and carers who have shared their views about awarding in 2022 as part of our extensive evaluation. This feedback has played an important role in informing the services we offer to learners this year.' 

In making decisions about the appeals and exceptional circumstances services for 2023, SQA and the wider education community have considered the principles of: 

A number of stakeholder and user groups have been involved in shaping and informing the decisions on Appeals 2023 and the Exam Exceptional Circumstances Service, including the National Qualifications Strategic and Working Groups. Following discussions at the SQA Advisory Council and the SQA Qualifications Committee, these were approved by the SQA Board of Management.  

Today’s announcement follows confirmation in April last year that modifications to assessment would be retained to take into account the continuing impact of disruption to learning caused by the global pandemic.  

In March, SQA will distribute copies of Your Exams – a learner information booklet with guidance and top tips on studying– to every learner in Scotland sitting National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams. 

Further information on Appeals 2023 and the Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service, along with the Equality Impact Assessment and Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment 2023, are on the SQA website.