SQA results day 2020: how to appeal your results and what to do if you’re unhappy with your grades

student looking worried about her exam results

The pass rate has gone up this year, but many students are not happy with their calculated grades

Today is SQA results day and, although the pass rate has gone up from last year, lots of students have been left feeling unhappy with their calculated grades.

This year, 81.1% of students passed the National 5, up from 78.2% last year. The Higher pass rate for 2020 was 78.9%, up from 2019’s 74.8% and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9% this year, as opposed to 79.4% last year.

But many students have reported concerns about their grades.

TSR member -MikeMike- comments,  “I managed to get a D in Higher English even though I passed the prelim with a high B. Not to mention Graphics, the subject I was best at in my whole class and was expecting an A somehow resulted in a C… Shocked with this.”

“Predicted an A in Higher Mathematics, needed it for University. Got a B,” shares JamesRKing.

We’ve pulled together some useful information and resources to help if you’re concerned about your SQA results, including who can appeal and how to start the process.

student holding exam results and looking worried

How to appeal your SQA results

This year, exams were cancelled and teachers instead estimated the grades they thought students would have achieved if they sat the exams, before sending the grades off to the SQA to be moderated.  

In the process of being moderated, around a quarter of the grades were adjusted by the SQA – and the vast majority (93.1%) of these were adjusted down. Nearly all of the adjustments (96%) were only by a single grade, though.

If you’re among the students whose grades were adjusted down by the SQA after being submitted by your teacher, you will have the option to appeal your results.

The appeals service, also known as the post-certification review, will be free to use this year and will be available to anyone who has been awarded a grade that is lower “than the estimated grade your school or college submitted to us, and they have evidence to show that you were performing at the level of your estimated grade,” the SQA website says.  

Your school or college will need to get in touch with the SQA to request the appeal, so first of all you’ll have to let them know that you want your grades to be reviewed.

Your teacher will then send the SQA their evidence that you should have received the original grade that they estimated – this can include classwork and coursework, even if the work is not finished. Your school or college will probably chat this through with you, so you’ll be able to have some input on what they choose to show.

Next, the SQA will go through the evidence, as well as any other evidence it already has, to decide whether to change your grade.

If you do decide to appeal, you could be awarded a higher grade, the same grade or a lower grade, although the SQA website says that it expects lowered grades to “be very rare”.  

If your grade is changed, it will be awarded at the lower band – eg, A2, B4 or C6. You won’t be able to appeal for a change of band.

The appeals service opens on 4 August 2020, and appeals need to have been submitted by 14 August 2020 for students wanting to confirm a college or university place, and by 21 August for all other appeals.

If you need to confirm a college or university place and your school has requested a priority review, you’ll get the results of the appeal by 4 September 2020. For everyone else, the post-appeal results date has not been confirmed yet.

Useful resources on TSR

You can talk through your results with TSR members and get advice on what to do next in our Scottish qualifications forum.

Here’s the TSR SQA results day 2020 discussion and help thread.

The applications, Clearing and Ucas forum is another useful place to ask for advice if you have questions or concerns about your university offers.

We also have a guide to SQA results day 2020 and an article on understanding your Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC).

Here's all the rest of our SQA results day 2020 advice

Other useful resources

Here’s where you can find 2020 results support on the SQA website, including information on this year’s appeals service.

The SQA also has a candidate advice line, which you can call on 0345 279 1000. This runs from 8am to 6pm on Tuesday 4 August and from 8.30am until 5pm on Wednesday 5, Thursday 6 and Friday 7 August.

You can call Skills Development Scotland’s free helpline for careers advice, information and guidance on 0808 100 8000. Its opening hours are 8am to 8pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and 9am to 5pm on Thursday and Friday. You’ll also be able to get information and advice from the my world of work website.

If you’re feeling disheartened by your SQA exam results and you’re looking to get inspired by different options that might be available to you, check out the  #NoWrongPath campaign on Twitter.

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