National Qualifications: Preparing for SQA exams in 2023

If you’re 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 you experience exceptional circumstances during your exams or appeals if you believe the grade you receive on results day is incorrect.

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

National Qualifications

We understand that the lead up to exams can be an unsettling time for you. The following information explains the services and support we have in place for learners sitting National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams. This includes what services will be available if you are experiencing exceptional circumstances during your exams, and if you believe the grade you receive on results day is incorrect.


Appeals 2023

You can request an appeal if you feel that a grade you 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 does not need alternative assessment evidence to support a request. Instead, you can ask for your SQA-marked assessments to be reviewed by a senior SQA marker.

You will be able to use a priority appeals service should you have a conditional offer for further education, training or employment.

Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service

The Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service (EECCS) will continue to be available for 2023. This means you can ask your school, college or training provider to send your alternative assessment evidence to SQA for review if you are unable to sit your exam due to an unplanned incident on the day or personal circumstances that are beyond your 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 teacher, lecturer or training practitioner.

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 allow 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 school, college, or training provider with information about what will or will not be assessed in the 2023 exam
  • reducing the amount of work you 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 including further notification of exam topics, content or context.

Your Exams booklet

Each year, we create a series of booklets to help you 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 school, college or training provider. This includes helpful hints and tips for preparing for exams and what to expect on the day. We encourage you to read this and share with your parent/carer so they can support you with exam preparations.

Evaluation and partnership working

We developed this year’s appeals and exceptional circumstances services by taking advice from the wider education community. This included learner, parent/carer and practitioner representatives on the National Qualifications 2023 Group and SQA’s Advisory Council. We also carried out research by sending questionnaires to learners, parents/carers and every school, college and training provider 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 you and your teachers, lecturers or training practitioners. To summarise, this year we are:

  • Keeping the modifications to course assessments in 2022-23 – as advised in April 2022
  • Providing Your Exams – an information booklet with guidance and top tips on studying for and sitting exams – to be issued through schools, colleges and training providers mid-March
  • Continuing the Examination Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service – available during exams
  • Providing an appeals service for 2023 that is free, available for all and based on a marking review of your exam paper – 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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