Skip to main content

Exam appeals: what we learned today

We reveal the qualification for which appeals are most successful – and just how rare it is for pupils to be downgraded

Exam appeals: what we learned today

We reveal the qualification for which appeals are most successful – and just how rare it is for pupils to be downgraded

This morning, exams body the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) published figures on the number of pupils who appealed their exam results this year.

Here are 10 things we learned:

  • Overall, 2.7 per cent of exam entries this year at N5, Higher and Advanced Higher were appealed.
  • This year is the first year in which there has been a drop in the number of exam entries being appealed – albeit a small one – since the current system was introduced in 2014, going from 2.8 per cent of entries being appealed last year to 2.7 per cent this year.
  • By far the most popular type of appeal is the "marking review", which involves the SQA ensuring that the original marker followed the agreed marking scheme and marked to the agreed standard. This year they accounted for 96.5 per cent of appeals.
  • The national qualification for which schools are most likely to ask for a marking review is the Higher; 4 per cent of entries at Higher were reviewed, compared with 2.8 per cent at Advanced Higher and 1.7 per cent at N5.
  • Overall, the percentage of marking-review requests that result in the grade going up continues to decrease, dropping from 25.9 per cent of requests in 2014 (2,059) to 14.2 per cent in 2018 (1,858).
  • Marking reviews were most likely to be successful and result in an upgrade at Advanced Higher, with 16.8 per cent of marking-review requests resulting in an upgrade at this level. At Higher, the figure is 14.3 per cent, and at N5, 13.7 per cent.
  • However, there are wide variations between subjects. Of the more popular Higher subjects, geography saw some of the highest marking-review request rates, with reviews carried out on 6 per cent of entries. Almost one in four (24.4 per cent) of those requests resulted in an upgrade.
  • In English, across all three levels (N5, Higher and Advanced Higher), 3.1 per cent of entries were appealed, resulting in 426 upgrades (16.5 per cent of requests) and zero downgrades.
  • In maths, across all three levels, 1.9 per cent of entries were appealed, resulting in 31 upgrades (2.6 per cent of requests) and zero downgrades.
  • It is extremely rare for pupils to receive a lower grade as a result of a marking review. In total, there were only seven downgrades as a result of marking reviews this year – this compares with eight last year and two in 2014.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you