Thousands of pupils query exam results

Proportion of students in Scotland asking for their marks to be reviewed remains broadly similar to last year

Emma Seith

Thousands of pupils query their exam results

More than 400 pupils received a higher grade in their English exams this year after querying their result with Scotland’s exam board, figures published this morning reveal.

In total, 3.1 per cent of all English entries at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher were appealed this year, with 16.5 per cent of review requests – or 426 entries – resulting in a higher grade being awarded. No pupil received a lower grade for their English exam after querying their mark.

Overall, 2.7 per cent of exam entries this year resulted in an appeal, with 14.5 per cent of the requests resulting in a grade change either up or down (1,958 of 13,543 requests), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) figures show.

Last year, 2.8 per cent of exam entries were appealed; 16.5 per cent resulted in a grade change.

The vast majority of requests (96.5 per cent) this year were for a marking review, which involves exam materials being reviewed to ensure that the original marker followed the agreed marking scheme and marked to the agreed standard. 

A smaller number of requests went through the priority marking review (3.1 per cent) and the clerical check (0.4 per cent), which simply ensures that marks have been correctly totalled.

SQA chief executive Janet Brown said Scotland’s examinations were “high-quality, rigorous and fair”, but added that it was right that schools and colleges had the opportunity to query results on behalf of their learners if they believed a genuine error had been made.

She added: “SQA’s post-results services, which were designed in partnership with stakeholders throughout Scotland’s education community, have again shown that at the heart of all our activities is a commitment to delivering our national qualifications to the highest possible standard.”

Charges for appeals were introduced for the first time in 2014 and range from £10 to £40.

A Tes Scotland investigation earlier this year revealed that by introducing the fees – which schools only incur if appeals are unsuccessful – the SQA saved nearly £800,000 last year.

However, even though the SQA made £350,000 from the so-called post-results service, the process cost £390,000 to run in 2017, leaving the body £40,000 down. This was a vast improvement, though, on the cost of the previous system, which was free for schools to access, and in its final year (2013) cost the SQA nearly £800,000 to manage.

Concerns remain, however, that independent schools are better placed to absorb the new costs and that the charges could be putting state schools off appealing grades.

Figures revealed in Tes Scotland in 2017 showed private schools were three times more likely than state schools to challenge the marks their pupils received in national exams.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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