National Qualifications 2016 - Post Results Services statistics published

Friday 09 December

SQA has published the statistics for its Post Results Services (PRS) following the 2015-16 academic year.

The key findings for the 2016 National Qualifications examinations were as follows:

  • Of the 516,652 entries, 2.7% requested a Post Results Service:
    • 2.6% of entries requested the Marking Review service.
    • 0.1% of entries requested the Priority Marking Review service.
    • Less than 0.05% of entries requested the Clerical Check service.
  • Across the three services, 19.3% of the requests resulted in a grade change, either up or down (2,688 of 13,908 requests).

This is the third year PRS has successfully operated, replacing the previous appeals system. The service has supported candidates and allowed teachers and lecturers to concentrate on quality teaching and learning.

Post Results Services allow schools and colleges to query candidates’ results if they are deemed to be unexpected, given their professional knowledge of a pupil’s performance throughout the year.

Three services are available to schools and colleges:

  • Clerical Check - ensures all marks were correctly totalled.
  • Marking Review - exam materials are reviewed by a Senior Examiner to ensure the original marker followed the agreed marking scheme and the exam paper was marked to the nationally agreed standard. It includes a Clerical Check.
  • Priority Marking Review - same as a Marking Review but is prioritised and is mainly used for candidates who have a university place pending on the outcome of the review.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “At the heart of all our activities is a commitment to the highest possible standards in Scottish qualifications.

“As part of that commitment, we have put systems in place to ensure that our approach to assessing qualifications is high-quality, rigorous and fair for all candidates. Post Results Services were designed in partnership and consultation with representatives from across Scotland’s education system.

“We constantly review our procedures to enhance and improve them with the aim of ensuring the best possible outcomes for candidates.”

Subject summaries


Requests for all three services totalled 2,716 (3.2% of all entries in English at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher), resulting in 525 upgrades (19.3% of requests and 0.6% of all entries) and no downgrades.


Requests for all three services totalled 1,527 (2.4% of all entries in Mathematics at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher), resulting in 208 upgrades (13.6% of requests and 0.3% of all entries) and 2 downgrades (0.1% of requests).


In 2016, more than 1 million scripts were marked for 140,055 candidates by more than 6,000 markers.

SQA Results Services are made up of two services:

1.Post Results Services

The Post Results Services operate after candidates have received their certificates in August. If a school or college is concerned by a candidate’s result, they can request a clerical check and/or a marking review of the script. (The ‘script’ is the name we give to the candidate’s exam answer paper.)

If this check/review of the marking of the script, leads to a change of grade (either up or down), this will be amended on our system and a new certificate will be issued to the candidate. There will be no consideration of ‘alternative evidence’ with this service. If the original grade remains unchanged after the check/review of the marking of the script, the school or college will be charged for this service.

Centres are advised of those subjects and components eligible for Post Results Services in the relevant policy document.

Full copies of the 2016 Post Results Services statistics, and a commentary from Dr Janet Brown are available via these links.

2. Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service

The Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service operates prior to results being published in August. If a school or college believes that a candidate has suffered as the result of exceptional circumstances such as bereavement or illness, staff can inform SQA. If accepted, centres can submit a wide range of evidence of the candidate’s attainment from throughout the year which will be considered.

During the 2016 diet, a total of 3,616 Exceptional Circumstance requests were resulted in August.