2020 Appeals (post-certification review)

What you need to know about Appeals

If you are a candidate

If you didn’t get the results you needed or were expecting contact your school/college as soon as possible, as appeals can only be made by your school or college. 

Your school or college can only appeal if the grade you were awarded is lower than the estimated grade that they sent to us.

If you are a school/college

1 Can you appeal?

To appeal you must be able to answer yes to:

A. Has the candidate been awarded a lower grade than their estimate?

B. Do you have evidence to support your estimate - classwork, prelims, past papers or class tests?

2 Submission dates

Deadlines to submit appeals:

14 August
for those confirming a college/university place

21 August
for all other appeals

3 Outcomes

There are 3 possible outcomes:

1. A higher grade is awarded

2. No change to the grade

3. A lower grade is awarded

Before submitting a request, the following must apply:

Post-Certification Review: Information for Centres (152 KB)

Key dates

Schools/colleges should submit a rationale for their decision-making for each candidate (or group of candidates), which highlights the evidence validating their estimated grade.

Requests must be signed-off by the headteacher, principal, or their representative, before being submitted to us.

Appeal outcomes

Results will be emailed to the school/college.

Revised certificates will be posted to candidates at a later date and MySQA updated.

Candidate questions answered

Which qualifications are covered by the guidance in this section?

The guidance in this section is currently relevant to the following SQA qualifications:

  • National 2 to National 5 courses
  • Highers
  • Advanced Highers
  • Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project unit
  • National Certificates (NC)
  • National Progression Awards (NPA)
  • Skills for Work courses
  • Awards

Appeals in 2020

If I'm not happy with my final grade, will I be able to appeal my result?

For 2020, we're offering a free appeals (post-certification review) service for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. Your school or college can use this service to request a review of your grade, if the grade you have been awarded is lower than the estimate grade your school or college submitted to us, and they have evidence to show that you were performing at the level of your estimate grade.

How does the appeals (post-certification review) service work?

If you are not happy with the result you receive, you must speak to your school or college who may be able to ask us to review your grade.

If your school or college is requesting a review on your behalf, they will discuss this with you first and explain the possible outcomes of the review. They will only submit a request to us if you agree to it.

Your school or college then needs to send us evidence that you were performing at the grade they estimated you for. We are asking schools and colleges to send us a range of evidence for this. This can include work you have done in class or coursework that you completed or partially completed. Your school or college will discuss this with you.

Once we receive this evidence from your school or college, a senior SQA examiner will review the evidence along with any other evidence already held by SQA, such as unmarked coursework submitted to us before the exam diet was cancelled. Based on the evidence available, the examiner will determine if your grade should be changed.

There are three possible outcomes:

  • You are awarded a higher grade
  • Your grade stays the same
  • You are awarded a lower grade

If your grade is changed, this will be awarded at the lower band, eg. A2, B4 or C6.

Can I contact SQA directly to request an appeal?

No. Only your school or college can request a review of your grade. SQA will not accept requests from candidates, parents or carers. Please speak to your school or college.

Is it possible to submit an appeal for a change of band?

No. A successful appeal (post-certification review) request will result in a change of grade only — a change of band is not a feature of the review.

If I’m waiting on the result of an appeal to confirm a place at college or university, will I get priority?

As we do every year, we will give priority to requests for candidates requiring a result to secure a conditional place at college or university. For this, your school or college needs to request a priority post-certification review. Results of priority post-certification reviews will be issued in line with UCAS deadlines.

Can my grade go down as the result of an appeal?

It is possible that SQA may award a lower grade following a review, but we expect this to be very rare. This would only happen if the evidence submitted by your school or college very clearly shows that you are performing at a lower grade than both the estimate submitted by your school or college and the grade you have been awarded by SQA.

If this were to happen, we would discuss it further with your school or college. We have included this option within the review (appeals) process to ensure the process supports fairness and equity to all candidates, while also maintaining the integrity and credibility of the qualifications.

Can I appeal the estimated grade submitted by my school or college?

If you disagree with the estimate grade sent to SQA on 29 May, you must speak to your school or college.

Previous questions you've asked

Why did SQA take the decision to cancel the exams?

Following the latest medical and scientific advice, The Scottish Government decided to cancel the exam diet due to social distancing and to keep everyone safe.

What about pushing the exam timetable back to later in the year?

We did think about this however, as we don't know when your school or college will reopen, the Deputy First Minister asked SQA to look at another way to produce your results.

How will National Courses be certificated this year?

Experienced teachers and lecturers will review all the evidence that is available to them to assess whether you have met the course aims. They have a strong understanding of your performance and know how you compare to other learners in each department, and in previous years.

Your teachers and/or lecturers will take account of any available work that you have completed throughout the course. Using their teaching experience, and their knowledge of your work and your progress so far, they will make an estimate of the grade you would have achieved under normal circumstances.

Estimate grades will be based on how well you have demonstrated the required skills, knowledge and understanding for each course at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher. We will then have the information we need to adjust estimates where necessary, and to ensure consistency — both across the country and in comparison, with previous years.

On Monday 20 April, we sent detailed guidance to your school or college on how to determine and submit this estimate information to us.

When should schools and colleges supply estimate grades to SQA?

SQA asked your teachers or lecturers to discuss your estimated grade with another teacher and senior member of staff before sending it to us by Friday 29 May.

What does this mean for National 2 to National 4 courses and the Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project?

National 2, National 3 and National 4 qualifications are made up of units (including an Added Value Unit at National 4) which are internally assessed as pass or fail by the school or college, and externally quality assured by SQA.

Schools and colleges will continue to send us your unit results based on either existing evidence from assessments that have already been completed, and/or by using their teaching experience of your work from through the year. The same arrangement applies to the Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project unit.

What about other internally assessed qualifications, such as National Certificates, National Progression Awards and Skills for Work courses?

For National Certificates, National Progression Awards, Skills for Work courses, and other Awards, we are asking schools, colleges, employers and training providers to provide us with the results of their internal assessment decisions (where some evidence from the course already exists but further progress is not possible) using their teaching experience of your work through the year.

Why aren’t you marking my coursework?

Coursework for Higher and Advanced Higher courses are submitted later in the year, so as a result of the current public health advice on social distancing, you may not be able to complete it and we would not be able to receive it and mark it.

We looked at the possibilities of marking National 5 coursework that we had already received, however it became clear that we could not go ahead with marking it in a way that was safe and secure for the hundreds of markers who work with us over the course of the exam diet, or in a way that ensures all results are viewed with the same importance as those from previous and future years.

We know this will be disappointing news. But we have taken this difficult decision to be as fair as possible to all learners, whilst responding to and following the latest public health guidance.

Can I progress to the next stage of my education or employment with the grades I receive?

Yes. SQA is in regular discussion with UCAS (the University and College Admission Service), Colleges Scotland, and Universities Scotland, who are fully aware of the situation and will help you to progress on to the next stage of your education or employment.

We are also in close discussion with Skills Development Scotland, to ensure employers and their representatives are kept aware of the decisions being made.

Can I sit my exams next year and use whatever result is better?

Yes, as in any year, you can sit the exams next year if you wish. All results will be listed on your SQA record of attainment.

I have been studying for a National Course at home/with a private tutor. What arrangements are there for me?

As an approved centre, your school or college has a responsibility to gather the appropriate evidence that will enable them to submit a refined estimate for you. It is for the school or college to decide what evidence they are prepared to accept and review, such as work you have completed throughout the year at home or with your private tutor. The school or college needs to be happy to authenticate this evidence and use it as a basis for your estimate. They may wish to discuss this further with you.

If the school or college is unable to authenticate this evidence – or they have no evidence upon which to base an estimate for you – they will be unable to submit an estimate grade. If this is the case, they will have no option but to withdraw you from the course.

If the school or college chooses not to proceed, you 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 you of any centres in your area that will accept new entries for external candidates.