NQ Centres

Information on the awarding process, Results Day and the appeals system for this year. 



How will the awarding process work?

The alternative certification model will allow us to award grades for all learners entered for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses as fairly and reliably as possible, across subjects and levels. It is based on teacher and lecturer estimates, with associated moderation by schools, colleges and SQA.

The data we will use includes school and college estimates, rank orders, historical results and estimates for all National Courses and learners’ prior attainment data for many Highers and Advanced Highers. Doing so allows us to explore the reasons for any apparent changes in the pattern of attainment (compared with previous years) that are reflected in the estimates submitted by schools and colleges.

To be as fair as possible such an approach needs to incorporate multiple checks and decision rules to identify where adjustment may be necessary. But it is important to highlight that, in Scotland, there are some qualifications that have low uptake either at a school and college level or at a national level. Prior attainment data is also not available for National 5 and some Higher learners.

This means we will not use a purely statistical approach to moderation. Final grade distributions will be signed-off through national awarding meetings. Each meeting will involve input from senior qualifications staff in SQA and principal assessors for each subject and level.

Will you provide schools and colleges with any more details on the Awarding process at this time?

It is important for us now to concentrate on the significant task of considering these estimates so that we can meet the timescales to deliver results to learners on 4 August.

In line with our approach every year, we will be clear about the awarding process on Results Day. This year, this will of course include the detail underpinning our approach and the impact of any moderation that we have had to make to estimates.

Results Day

When will candidates receive their results?

Results will be issued to learners on Tuesday 4 August, by post and via MySQA, our online and text service.

Learners are strongly encouraged to sign-up to MySQA, as a direct way to receive their results.


Will centres be able to question candidates’ results? Will those awaiting results for college or university places be a priority?

If a candidate has a concern about their results, they should discuss it with their school or college as soon as possible after 4 August. As we do every year, we will give priority to requests for those learners requiring a result to secure a conditional place at college or university.

What are the criteria for an appeal?

For schools and colleges to request a review, the following criteria must be met:

  • A learner or group of learners must have been awarded a lower grade than the estimated grade their school or college gave; and
  • Assessment evidence must be available to support the estimated grade – this can include:
    • prelim or mock papers;
    • additional tasks or assignments;
    • performance or practical evidence;

In some cases, SQA may already hold evidence that has previously been submitted but not marked, for example some National 5 coursework.

Schools and colleges may want to submit a rationale for their decision-making for each learner or group of learners, which highlights the key areas of evidence that they believe confirms their estimated grade.

Requests must be signed-off by the head of centre, or their representative, before being submitted to SQA.

How will an appeal be progressed?

Once a request and all the associated assessment evidence is received, it will be reviewed by our senior subject specialist examiners, and they will either accept or reject the request, based on the evidence submitted.

If a request is accepted, the learner will be upgraded. If the learner requires the result for a conditional college or university place, we will advise the school or college, the higher education institute and UCAS, as appropriate. Learners will be sent an updated Scottish Qualifications Certificate after all review requests for 2020 have been completed.

If a request is rejected, we will confirm the original grade certificated, or an alternative lower grade, with the school or college.

It is possible that a lower grade may be awarded following a review because the alternative evidence supplied is judged to be so far from standard that it cannot support either the original school or college estimate or the certificated grade awarded.

We expect this to be very rare and if it does occur, we would have further dialogue with the school or college. The inclusion of this option within the review process supports fairness and equity to all learners, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of the qualifications.

We will also put in place a process to consider review requests from schools and colleges based on an administrative or academic error in the original estimate process. This will only be by exception and will require support from a head teacher or college principal, and agreement from an SQA director.

When will you provide schools and colleges with more details about this year’s appeals process?

More detailed guidance on the appeals process, evidence required and planned dates for the service including uplift dates for the collection of evidence will be sent to schools and colleges on 19 June.

A system user guide, including information on how to make review requests, detailed instructions on how to package the evidence and what support is available, will follow before 4 August, when the service opens.