SQA update on exams and qualifications in 2022-23

By on November 16, 2022 0

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has today released an update on National Qualifications 2022-23, including advice on exams, grading and support for teachers.

The SQA said this follows confirmation in April that changes to the assessment taking into account the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic would remain in place for this year.

SQA guidance on exams and qualifications

Here are some of the key messages:


In September Your Scotland reported that the more generous grading than usual, which applied to exams in 2022, may not continue in 2023.

Today the SQA said: “Significant progress has been made in Scotland during the 2022 exams to return to pre-pandemic standards. However, we recognize that the impact of the pandemic is still being felt on learners and practitioners. Our approach to standard setting and ratings in 2023 will therefore continue to be sensitive to the magnitude of this ongoing impact. The approach will be evidence-based and will take into consideration significant changes to national course assessments.

Assessment Changes

All changes to the 2022-23 course assessments “are already in place and there are no plans to provide further advance notice of question content or contexts.”

Summary documents are available for each subject that has modified assessments, explaining how the courses will be assessed. For some topics, these also include information about changes to stand-alone units.

As in 2021-22, the types of changes depend on the topic and may include removing or reducing parts of an exam or course, providing more choice or time during an assessment, or removal of a subject from the exam.

The “Summary of Changes Document” for each topic can be found here.

Decisions on whether to continue using the 2023-24 session modifications will be made later this school year.


National exams, which returned in 2022 after a two-year hiatus, will take place in 2023, starting on Monday April 24 and ending on Thursday June 1 (a day that has no exams scheduled at the moment but was described by the SQA as an “emergency day”). With an additional public holiday recently announced on Monday May 8, to mark the King’s Coronation, the SQA will revise the exam schedule for that day.

The 2023 exam schedule can be viewed here.

Content of national courses

The SQA said it had “made changes to the assessment only – we have not removed any content from national courses”. Teachers “should continue to deliver the full content of the course to enable learners to develop the full range of skills, knowledge and understanding”.

In other words, if assessment of course work has been removed, students “should still perform activities during class time to develop knowledge and skills that would normally be assessed as part of course work. Classes “.

The SQA says this process is important because it “may help learners complete their assessments this year, as there may be instances where they can draw on their knowledge and experience from other parts of the course.” As an example, the SQA claims that “exposure to practical science work can help learners address certain exam questions”.

The SQA adds: “This will equip learners with the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to progress into learning, training or employment. Additionally, it can provide teachers and lecturers with evidence of the degree of development of these skills, which can be useful in supporting a learner’s assessment.

Learner support

The SQA said there will be support for students who cannot take an exam due to “exceptional circumstances” or who “want to query their results directly with the SQA”.

Before any decision is made on how this will work, the SQA is carrying out an assessment of all 2021-22 arrangements, including its appeals and “exceptional circumstances review consideration services”. The 2022 appeal process continues to be a source of considerable controversy.

The SQA expects this assessment to be completed by the end of January.

Emergency arrangements for Covid

The SQA said: “While there is a clear expectation that the reviews will take place, the SQA recognizes that contingency planning is important and sensible. We continue to discuss contingencies with the 2023 National Qualifications Group. As with the 2021-22 contingency, if exams were to be canceled due to public health advisories, teachers and lecturers would be asked to determine provisional results using their professional judgment on evidence that demonstrates each learner’s skills, knowledge and understanding.

He added: “The provisional results would be based on in-year assessments that normally take place during the session, such as preliminaries, practical activities, performance and class tests. Teachers and lecturers will gather evidence to support estimates, as usual, referring to our Understanding the Standards documents to help ensure the evidence is valid and reliable.

The SQA said the National Qualifications group “will continue to work together to build on what has worked well in 2021-22”.

Advice for students

The SQA has published Your national qualifications, a booklet for students on what to do when they finish their course. It also contains advice on preparing for exams. Printed copies were sent to all schools and colleges in Scotland.

A second edition, Your examswill be available at the end of March.

e-Sgoil study support

e-Sgoil continues its work on online study assistance for students. Details are available here.

*For updates, the SQA advised to check the National Qualifiers section of their website, which can be found here.