Understanding Standards

Understanding Standards logo

Understanding Standards is SQA's support programme for teachers and lecturers delivering National Qualifications. We have a wide range of subject-specific resources that explain the standards required in SQA assessments and contain examples of candidate evidence. 

Understanding Standards can help you build your confidence in preparing learners for assessment. 

Understanding Standards materials


Every year, we run a series of webinars that focus on particular National Courses and their assessments. Recordings of our webinars are available from the Understanding Standards website. This includes our 2020-21 webinars that took place from November to April.

Audio presentations

Our pre-recorded audio presentations are similar to webinars and are available on the Understanding Standards website for a range of subjects. 

Candidate evidence and commentary materials

We regularly publish examples of candidate assessment evidence (including media files where appropriate to the subject), along with written commentaries that explain why the evidence has or has not met the required assessment standards. This includes video and audio recordings of performance-based assessments in subjects like Dance, Drama and Music.

Practical skills videos

We have produced practical skills videos for some practical-based subjects, such as Photography, Fashion and Textile Technology and Practical Woodworking. These demonstrate some of the skills and techniques that can be used in assessments or explain how to assess a finished product.

Additional resources for session 2020-21

While we regularly review and update our published Understanding Standards materials to ensure they remain relevant, in session 2020-21 we published additional subject-specific resources to support teachers and lecturers with gathering evidence and determining provisional results for National 5 to Advanced Higher. This included new candidate evidence and commentary materials, webinars, audio presentations, and video and audio resources. 

Where to access Understanding Standards materials

Please refer to your NQ subject page for links to published Understanding Standards resources, which are available from the Understanding Standards website. Some Understanding Standards materials are also available from the SQA Secure website for assessments where the evidence must remain secure.