The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has today revealed more details about the appeals process that will be in place after coronavirus forced the cancellation of this year's exams.
The guidance advises that an appeal can be made where the awarded grade is below the estimated grade.
The SQA also warns that there may be a small amount of instances where an appeal leads to a lower mark, "because the alternative evidence supplied is judged to be so far from standard that it cannot support either the original school or college estimate or the certificated grade awarded".
The guidance explains: "The inclusion of this option within the review process supports fairness and equity to all learners, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of the qualifications."
However, the SQA expects that to be "very rare and if it does occur, we would have further dialogue with the school or college".
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One response on Twitter to the announcement read: "An appeal then can result in a lower grade. This measure should be reviewed. Although 'rare', SQA support overall will now be seriously questioned throughout results and appeals. I'm reminded of the scaremongering travel agency in The Truman Show – it could happen to you!"
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The SQA also said today that it will "put in place a process to consider review requests from schools and colleges based on an administrative or academic error in the original estimate process".
However, its guidance states: "This will only be by exception and will require support from a headteacher or college principal, and agreement from an SQA director."
Fiona Robertson, Scotland's chief examiner and chief executive of the SQA, says in the guidance: "We all want to ensure the class of 2020 can hold their heads high, now and in the future, with their qualifications fully recognised as they would be in any year."
Students' SQA results are due on 4 August.
The free appeals service offered this year marks a significant change from the usual "post-results service", which proved controversial after its introduction in 2014 amid concerns that it favoured private schools and was unfair to students who were unable to fall back on results in "prelim" exams earlier in the year. In theory, using the post-results service can also lead to lower grades, although this happens very rarely.