SQA publishes estimates and appeals data for 2023

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Learners across Scotland have received the outcomes of their National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher appeals this week.

SQA shared appeal outcomes with schools, colleges, and training providers on Tuesday 31 October 2023, with teachers and lecturers in turn informing their learners of their appealed results over the course of the past week.

National Qualification appeal outcomes for National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher courses are being published today. The national results show that there were 39,645 requests for an appeal, and 3,980 results were upgraded. Five appeal requests resulted in a downgrade. All other appeals resulted in no change to the final grade.

SQA has also published an analysis of the relationship between estimates – the grades teachers and lecturers submit to SQA based on the evidence of learners’ attainment at that point in time – and results awarded in August.

The data shows close alignment between estimates and exam grades. In total, 49.8% of entries were awarded the same grade as estimated in 2023, while 31.9% were awarded a higher grade and 18.3% were awarded a lower grade. When estimated grades did not match awarded grades, they most commonly differed by one grade.

Appeals 2023

If learners had concerns about a grade on their certificate in August, they had the opportunity to submit an appeal for free to SQA either directly, or via their school, college, or training provider. Their SQA-marked course assessments – such as their exam and coursework – were then reviewed by experienced markers – the teachers and lecturers appointed and trained by SQA.

A marking review is a check to make sure that all parts of a SQA assessment have been marked correctly; that the marking is in line with national standards; that the marks given for each answer have been added up correctly; and finally, that the correct result has been entered on SQA’s system.

If a learner’s grade has changed following an appeal, they will receive a new certificate by post later this month.

Fiona Robertson, SQA’s Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said: "The appeals service is the final stage of the National Qualifications awarding process in 2023 and gave learners across the country a safety net so they could query any unexpected result, directly and for free.

“SQA awarded more than half a million National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher grades in August.  We received 39,645 requests for an appeal and 3,985 grades – less than 1% of total grades awarded – changed following a marking review.

“Our appointees – experienced teachers and lectures from across the country – are essential to qualifications delivery in Scotland, and we called upon their expertise again during the appeals process. Their understanding of standards ensures that young people have the best opportunity to successfully demonstrate their knowledge and skills and have their achievements recognised and recorded fairly. This provides a strong foundation on which to build the next stage of their learning, training, or employment.”

An evaluation of the approach to awarding in 2023 is taking place and its outcomes will help to inform discussion regarding future assessment requirements.

Links to the published reports:

The 2023 appeals, and estimates reports can be found here: Relationships between teacher estimates and results in Scotland, and Appeal Statistics.

Appeal outcomes by qualification level 2023:

At qualification level, the proportion of appeal requests resulting in an upgrade was highest for Advanced Higher and lowest for National 5.

Estimate Grades 2023: