The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) have said that pupils sitting exams this year have been graded ‘generously’ following two years of disruption due to Covid.
They are the first exams to have taken place since before the start of the pandemic after results in 2020 and 2021 were based on teacher judgement, supported by assessment resources.
But despite the return of the exams this year, many schools were hit by high levels of pupil and teacher absences due to high levels of Covid in the community and the seeding of the highly infectious Omicron variant.
Pupils across Scotland who sat their National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher qualifications are now awaiting the results of the assessments, which are due on Tuesday August 9.
The SQA said that as a consequence of the exams being cancelled in 2020 and 2021, results could be lower overall this year, and in response to this “have taken a more generous approach to setting grade boundaries”.
The awards body added that “this year’s learners are sitting exams in very different circumstances from the pre-pandemic years” and this year’s grade boundaries were set “to help ensure fairness for learners while maintaining standards”.
Asked about comparing results in 2022 with other years, a spokesperson for the SQA said: “Given the unique circumstances facing learners in 2022, and our approach to awarding, comparisons with other years should be treated with significant caution, noting it is not possible to draw definitive conclusions on any changes in education performance during this time.
“However, universities, colleges and employers can be confident that standards and integrity have been maintained in 2022.
“Learners can also be confident that the qualifications they receive are credible and fair, and reflect the knowledge, understanding and skills they have acquired in challenging circumstances.”
SQA confirmed in April this year that changes to course assessments for National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher, that take into account disruption to learning caused by the global pandemic, will remain in place for the next academic year.
The spokesperson added: “Carrying the assessment modifications forward into the new academic year will help to provide some certainty for learners, teachers and lecturers and help free up more time for learning and teaching of the course content, while maintaining the integrity and credibility of their qualifications.”