National Qualifications: Overview of Quality Assurance

Science Class

SQA and centres running SQA qualifications have a shared responsibility for quality assuring the internally assessed elements of National Qualifications.

The quality assurance arrangements:

How does quality assurance work?

  1. Understanding Standards

The Understanding Standards programme aims to develop understanding of the national assessment standards in each subject area.

The Understanding Standards programme consists of:

The Understanding Standards resources and materials can support centres in the development of their internal verification processes.

  1. Internal verification

Internal verification is a supportive process designed to ensure that internal assessment is robust. Centres are responsible for their own internal verification processes. SQA has produced the Internal Verification Toolkit to support you with developing your own practice.

  1. Prior verification

Prior verification is a free service offered to centres that devise their own summative assessments, or that significantly change SQA's assessments to suit their particular local needs. The service gives centres additional confidence that their proposed assessment is fit for purpose and meets national standards. Information and guidance is available on our prior verification page.

  1. External verification

External verification is the process we use to assure the quality of internal assessment, including internal verification, in centres. Event verification and visiting verification are used.

  1. Post certification quality assurance

We also carry out other quality assurance exercises to monitor standards effectively such as post-certification quality assurance. This involves appointees reviewing internal assessment evidence from centres that were not verified during the academic session.

Who is involved in quality assurance


All quality assurance activities are overseen by a subject-specific team of appointees, who are teachers and lecturers experienced in assessment. Appointees in each subject area include a Principal Verifier, a Depute Principal Verifier and Team Leaders.