National Qualifications: Helping your child prepare for SQA exams in 2023

If your child is sitting National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher SQA exams in 2023 read this article to find out about the support options available, including services in the event of exceptional circumstances during their exams or appeals if you believe the grade they receive on results day is incorrect.

1 February 2023 - sqablogs - Categories: Appeals, Awarding 2023 Programme, Parents

National Qualifications

We understand that the lead up to exams can be an unsettling time for both you and your child. The following information explains the services and support we have in place for learners, including those facing exceptional circumstances during their exams, and those who believe the grade they receive on results day is incorrect.


Appeals 2023

Your child can request an appeal if they feel that a grade they receive on results day – Tuesday 8 August 2023 – is incorrect. This service is free and available to all. It is similar to the service used before 2020 and, unlike last year, does not need alternative assessment evidence to support a request. Instead, learners will be able to ask for their SQA-marked assessments to be reviewed by a senior SQA marker.

Appeals 2023 includes a priority service for learners with a conditional offer for college, university, training or a job.

Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service

We recognise that there are times when learners cannot sit an exam for reasons outwith their control. The EECCS will continue to be available this year, meaning those learners who need help the most due to exceptional circumstances can have alternative assessment evidence reviewed to help determine their grades. The service will be available to learners who are unable to attend an exam and widened to include those whose performance in the examination may have been affected by a personal circumstance, or an unplanned incident on the day, which is beyond their control. This could be a medical condition (including Covid-19 related absence) or bereavement, or disruption on the day of the exam as reported by the Chief Invigilator.

Any decision to submit an EECCS request needs to be discussed with your child’s teacher or lecturer.

Support for learners

Changes to assessment

Changes – known as modifications – to assessments made to National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, as well as some National 3 courses and freestanding units are already in place. They were introduced to make up for lost learning and teaching during the pandemic and vary depending on the course.

Modifications may include:

  • removing an exam or an item of coursework
  • removing or reducing parts of an exam or coursework
  • removing one or more topics or sub-topics from an exam
  • providing more choice or more time in an assessment
  • providing your child’s school or college with information about what will or will not be assessed in the 2023 exam
  • reducing the amount of work learners need to do for a unit assessment

Click here to view a summary table of the modifications made to each course.

There are no plans to provide any additional revision support materials such as advance information about what is or is not going to be in an exam.  However we will provide exam tips and advice in the Your Exams booklet (see below).

Your Exams booklet

Each year, we create a series of booklets for learners to help with the various stages of completing National Qualifications. The next booklet, due to be issued in March, is Your Exams and will be sent directly to your child’s school or college. It will also be available digitally.  This booklet includes helpful hints and tips for preparing for exams and what to expect on the day. We encourage you to read this to help your child get ready for their exams.

Evaluation and partnership working

We developed this year’s appeals and exceptional circumstances services by taking advice from learners, parents, carers and teachers on the National Qualifications 2023 Group and SQA’s Advisory Council. We also carried out extensive research by sending questionnaires to learners, parents/carers and every school and college offering National Qualifications. You can read more about the headline findings here.

We remain committed to protecting the standard of Scotland’s National Qualifications while supporting your child . To summarise, this year we are:

  • Keeping the changes (modifications) to course assessments in 2022-23 – as advised in April 2022
  • Providing Your Exams – a learner information booklet with guidance and top tips on studying for and sitting exams – to be issued mid-March
  • Continuing the Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service – available during exams
  • Providing an appeals service for 2023 that is free, available for all learners and based on a review of SQA-marked exams and coursework – to open on Tuesday 8 August


Further information

Stay up to date on the latest information regarding exam services for 2023 by clicking through to Learner Services on the SQA website.

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