Exceptional circumstances

The Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service (EECCS) supports learners who have been:

  • unable to attend the exam
  • or whose performance in an exam has been affected by a personal circumstance, or an unplanned incident on the day.

This is a pre-certification service that covers situations where an exceptional circumstance has impacted a learner’s performance on the day of an exam.

It is available for all exams that appear in the exam timetable. Non-question paper components are not eligible for this service.

Disruption to learning that has occurred before the exam is not considered a valid exceptional circumstance.

The service will open on 22 April 2024 and the closing date is 10 working days after the exam for which the request is being made. EECCS is a pre-certification service. SQA is unable to accept requests after results are issued. There is no charge for this service.

Only schools, colleges and training providers may submit requests. We are unable to accept requests from learners or parents/carers. Learners who believe they are eligible for this service should contact their school, college or training provider. Learners will not be eligible for the Appeals Service if they have gone through EECCS.


Learners are eligible for EECCS consideration if:

  • they have experienced a valid exceptional circumstance (either examination or personal circumstance. See below for more information)
  • they have completed all the compulsory non-question paper components
  • an estimate has been submitted for them
  • alternative evidence for the impacted exam component(s) is available

An exceptional circumstance is a circumstance that is unplanned and fundamentally affects a learner’s ability to attend or perform on the day in an exam.

Examination exceptional circumstances are categorised as either ‘personal circumstances’ or ‘examination circumstances’. These are called outline reasons. Under each outline reason there are detailed reasons, such as a medical condition or a disruption.

It is not possible to produce a definitive list that covers every possible exceptional circumstance. However, each request submitted should correspond with one of the following reasons.

Peronal circustance

  • Bereavement
  • Medical condition*
  • Domestic circumstance
  • Exceptional absence

Examination circumstance**

  • Examination arrangements***
  • Disruption

There are currently no COVID-19 rules or restrictions in Scotland and we are now living with COVID-19 as a respiratory infection. Further information can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

* Schools, colleges or training providers will not be required to specify the nature of the medical condition when submitting a request, but they must hold documentation such as a letter or statement from the head of centre confirming that it affected the learner.

** To be considered for an EECCS request, learners must have been affected during the exam by a disruption, or other exam circumstance, reported by the chief invigilator.

*** Examination arrangement related exceptional circumstances include situations where the centre fails to correctly implement a pre-agreed assessment arrangement.

We will only accept EECCS requests from schools, colleges or training providers. We will not accept requests from learners or their representatives. Each request must have been approved by the head of the school, college or training provider. Learners must have consented to an EECCS request being submitted on their behalf.

The head must be sure that:

  • The reason for the request is exceptional and satisfies one of the following:
    • The learner was unable to attend the exam due to a personal circumstance
    • The learner’s performance was fundamentally affected by a personal circumstance
    • The learner was affected during the exam by a disruption or other exam circumstance, reported by the chief invigilator
  • The reason for the request falls into one of the categories (outline and detailed reasons).
  • Appropriate documentation is held to support the request.
  • Alternative academic evidence for the impacted exam component(s) is available.
  • All non-exam components were completed by the learner.
  • An estimate has been submitted.

Learners should be aware that the final grade awarded is based on the academic evidence and may not agree with the estimate.

Your school, college or training provider must provide alternative evidence for the question paper component of the relevant qualification. We will consider a range of evidence. Evidence must cover the specific skills, knowledge and understanding requirements of the course.

All academic evidence submitted in support of requests must have been generatedbeforethe date of the timetabled exam.

The following are examples of the types of learner evidence that could be considered under this service:

  • Prelims or mock exams
  • End of topic assessments
  • Performance recordings
  • Classwork

We are unable to accept any further learner evidence after we have issued your result.

Examiners will be provided with the learner’s estimate, alternative academic evidence, any relevant non-question paper component learner materials (for example a folio or project), and any attempted question papers related to the request.

Examiners will review the academic evidence and award a grade subject to the following conditions:

  • Where the learner has attended any parts of the timetabled exam and therefore only alternative academic evidence is available, any grade awarded will be at the lowest band point available; for example A2, B4 or C6.
  • Schools, colleges and training providers should inform SQA if a learner has a conditional offer from university that requires an A1 band. In these cases, by exception, should the learner’s alternative evidence justify an A grade, the examiner will also determine the appropriate band.

Learners should note that the grade awarded by an SQA examiner may not agree with the learner’s estimate that was submitted by the school, college or training provider.

Results will be issued via the normal national certification channels and according to the associated published dates.

Learners who have undergone exceptional circumstances consideration are excluded from the Appeals Service  for the same qualification. This is because the EECCS includes a marking review of any/all submitted external assessments that are related to the request.

Learners can appeal their EECCS request outcome on two possible grounds. This must be done through the head of school, college or training provider on a learner’s behalf if:

  • they believe that SQA’s decision to refuse an EECCS request that was submitted within the published timescales, based on all the evidence available to SQA at the time, is wrong.


  • they believe that there was procedural irregularity in SQA’s handling of an EECCS request, which contributed to a decision that based on all the evidence available to SQA at the time, is wrong.

Learners should speak to their school, college or training provider if they want to appeal an EECCS outcome.