NQ Estimates

The deadline for submitting estimate grades for National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher courses was Friday 29th May.


What is the deadline for schools and colleges to submit estimate grades? Is it possible to get an extension to the deadline to the end of the cancelled exam diet?

Yes. We have extended the existing estimates deadline by one month, from Friday 24 April to Friday 29 May.

What guidance is there to help me with establishing my candidates’ estimate grades?

We have published detailed guidance for teachers and lecturers on how to determine and submit refined estimate information:

Information on providing estimates (160 KB)

We also created an online SQA Academy course that contains a range of support and guidance on determining and submitting refined estimates.

View our SQA Academy course on Estimates.

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

Yes. For large, multi-class cohorts, you may enter tied rankings where needed. For example, if you cannot distinguish between three candidates whom you would rank fifth in your rank order, you can enter ‘5’ three times.

However, we strongly advise keeping the number of ties to a minimum, and also minimising the number of candidates within a tied ranking.

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

You should exercise your professional judgement and estimate your candidates’ grades and bands based on their demonstrated and inferred attainment of the required skills, knowledge and understanding for the course. To do this, you should draw on the available evidence of your candidates’ performance throughout the course – including classwork, homework and prelim results where available. You should also draw on your knowledge of your candidates, as well as your experience of teaching the course to other cohorts and their attainment.

It is important to remember that it is not necessary to mark any other work that would have been externally marked by SQA. An estimate is a judgement of a grade and band based on a holistic review of a candidate’s performance in the assessment evidence available.

Please see the SQA Academy course on Estimates for more guidance

It is impossible for me to access the physical evidence I need for preparing estimates. What should I do?

You will need to draw on the evidence available to you - such as prelim results, records of homework and classwork, evidence from e-portfolios etc - and use this 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 on Estimates 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 your candidates that is related to the assignment, which should give you an indication of the likely standard of the assignment. You might find it helpful to refer to our SQA Understanding Standards website, where we have published examples of learner assignments, with a commentary that explains the extent to which these examples have met the required standards for assessment – and why.

I am a new teacher and have not taught a National Qualification class before. Where can I go for support with making estimates?

Your SQA coordinator and subject lead will support you in making estimates. Your centre will also have access to data for cohorts in previous years.

Will SQA return coursework I’ve already submitted?

No, SQA will retain any coursework to inform post-certification review, as part of our free appeals service this year.

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. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it has not been possible for SQA to quality assure the marking of these assessments and we have not yet received some candidate marks. Where this is the case, candidate mark sheets are being held securely by assessors until it is possible to submit them to us. Visiting assessor marks will not be used in determining candidates’ final grades this year, however we may refer to them as part of our free appeals service.

You should estimate your candidates as you would in any other year, by using the evidence available. Please do not contact visiting assessors directly to request that they disclose your candidates' marks.

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.