NQ Estimates

If you're teaching National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher courses - help with preparing estimates.


I have 30 candidates in one refined band – can I use tied ranking?

Yes, for large multi-class cohorts tied rankings may be entered eg if you cannot distinguish between three candidates whom you would rank fifth in your rank order, enter 5 three times.

SQA strongly advises minimising the number of ties and minimising the number of candidates in any tied ranking.

My candidates were unable to complete their practical assignment/performance/portfolio – what evidence should I use?

You should draw on your evidence of candidate performance throughout the course and your experience of teaching the course to other cohorts and their attainment to estimate grades and bands. You should also rank your candidates in each refined band. SQA will moderate your estimates drawing on centre and national data.

Please see the SQA Academy course for more guidance.

It is impossible for me to access the physical evidence for preparing estimates – what should I do?

You will need to draw on the evidence available to you eg prelim results, records of homework and classwork, evidence in e-portfolios etc to inform your decision about the most likely, realistic outcome for each candidate had they been able to complete the course assessment. Please see the SQA Academy course for more guidance.

My candidates’ assignments were completed under controlled conditions and are packaged in school. It is not possible for me to access these materials – how do I prepare a fair estimate?

You are likely to have seen other work by candidates that is related to the assignment, this should give you an indication of the likely standard of the assignment. You might find it helpful to refer to the SQA Understanding Standards site where exemplar assignments are available.

I am a new teacher and have not taught a National Qualification class before?

Your SQA coordinator and subject lead will support you in making estimates. Centres will have data for cohorts in previous years.

Will SQA return coursework that I’ve already submitted?

No, SQA will retain any coursework to inform post-certification review.

Where it was possible for visits to take place in February and March, can marks awarded by visiting assessors be issued to centres to inform estimates?

No, this is not possible. Centres should estimate as they would in previous years for components assessed by visiting assessors. It has not been possible for marking to be quality assured and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, some marks have not yet been received by SQA. Centres must not contact visiting assessors directly to request that marks are disclosed.

What advice is available to ensure that equalities and bias are considered during the estimate process?

Our SQA Academy course on estimates provides teachers and lecturers with advice and guidance on taking a range of factors into account that may impact on their decision making on individual estimates for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses.

This includes candidates who have assessment arrangements, or who would have reasonable adjustments. Teachers and lecturers are asked to consider that these candidates may have been unable to access their usual levels of support in home learning situations, and that they may normally be taught by peripatetic teachers or support for learning specialists. Teachers and lecturers may wish to include these staff in estimate discussions.

The course also includes a section on bias, making clear that any discussion of fairness must take account of the possibility of bias. When coming to a decision about a candidate’s estimate, teachers and lecturers are reminded that they must try to detach themselves from the individual in order to be as objective and as ‘standard’ in their decisions as possible.

Candidate evidence should be valued for its own worth and merit as an indicator of course assessment, and a conscious effort should be made to consider and avoid the negative impact of potential implicit bias. Teachers and lectures should do this as they finalise their estimates and ranking by considering the accuracy of the decisions they make alongside candidate data on background, gender, disability, race and ethnicity, at both class and cohort presentation level.

Moderation across departments, learning areas and faculties, as well as Head of Centre sign-off, will ensure fairness for all candidates and ensure that robust standards are maintained.

How do I submit estimates for external learners who are home-schooled, privately tutored or who have previously studied at another centre?

If the learner is registered to your centre, then as the approved centre, you need to gather the appropriate evidence to enable you to submit a refined estimate for the learner. It is for you to decide what evidence you are prepared to accept and review, such as work completed at home, with a tutor or in a previous centre. You also need to be happy to authenticate this evidence and you can do this in a number of ways, such as discussing the work with the learner (and/or discussing with their tutor, where applicable).

If you are unable to authenticate the evidence – or you have no evidence upon which to base an estimate for the candidate – you will need to withdraw the learner.

If you choose not to proceed, the learner will need to be entered for the course by another SQA-approved centre, and that centre will also be required to submit an estimate grade to us. Your local authority may be able to advise the learner of any centres in your area that will accept new entries for external learners.