How will results be decided?

Why were exams cancelled?

The 2021 National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams are cancelled due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This also means that coursework will not be marked by SQA, however it can still count towards evidence of your result. It also means that we need a different way to decide your National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results. We call this the alternative certification model.

We expected a lot of disruption to learning this session, therefore SQA has reduced the evidence needed for each National Course to the minimum while making sure that your qualifications remain valid and credible. We have introduced more flexibility for how and when assessments need to be done and have extended the date for teachers and lecturers to send provisional results to us to help provide more learning and teaching time.

Alternative Certification Model

The alternative certification model has been created in partnership with the National Qualifications 2021 Group in order to deliver results for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. This group includes representatives from across the education system including the National Parent Forum of Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament. We are also working with a panel of learners who are helping us to understand some of the challenges you face as well as advising on how we can best meet your needs.

This year teachers and lecturers will use the assessments you have done as evidence to decide what your results should be. This is referred to as using demonstrated attainment. A strong set of checks will be done to support teachers' and lecturers' decisions. We call this quality assurance. These checks will be carried out by schools, colleges, training providers, local authorities and SQA. The results that your teacher or lecturer give you will be called provisional results. SQA will not change your provisional results. We will check for any administrative errors that may occur when schools, colleges and training providers enter the data into the system.

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance helps to make sure that results are decided consistently across the country. It is carried out in schools (with support from local authorities where appropriate), colleges and training providers, as well as by SQA. The quality assurance carried out by your school, college or training provider involves looking at assessment evidence to help make sure that your results are consistent and fair across the whole of Scotland. We call this local quality assurance.
SQA carries out quality assurance to help make sure that the way your teacher or lecturer has assessed your evidence is appropriate and consistent with the national standard. This involves looking at examples of assessment evidence from all schools, colleges and training providers. We call this national quality assurance. Together, local and national quality assurance helps to make sure that an A grade in the north of Scotland is worth the same as an A grade in the south of Scotland and everywhere in between.

Your 2021 results

SQA is committed to ensuring that your 2021 results are fair and enable you to continue in education or move on to employment or training. Your teachers and lecturers will take time to provide your provisional results so you can be confident that the results you receive reflect your work and will be recognised as they would in any other year. It is important that you talk to your teachers and lecturers about your progress as well as what provisional results are being sent to SQA.

Additional support

If you need additional support, arrangements can be made to give you an equal chance to show what you know and what you can do we call these assessment arrangements. If you would like to know more about these arrangements, speak to your teacher or lecturer. If you need to use assessment arrangements, it is important that you talk to your teachers or lecturers as soon as you can.

Moving on to further learning or employment

We are also talking to universities, colleges and the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) to inform them of the approach to awarding this year.