The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) reported that one in 10 appeals for a higher grade were successful in 2023.

That according to provisional results released on Tuesday.

The number is nearly one-third of the success rate in 2022 when 29.8 per cent of the 58,035 appeals submitted resulted in an upgrade.

This year, the overall number of appeals also fell: down to 39,645 (7.3 per cent) of the 540,920 grades awarded, compared to 58,035 (11.0 per cent) of the 526,610 grades in 2022.

The difference in the rates of both appeals and successful upgrades comes after the SQA instituted a change in policy to the 2023 appeals system.

Last year, alternative assessments such as a student’s relevant coursework and preliminary results informed the SQA’s appeal decisions.

But this year, the appeals process was more streamlined, geared towards identifying and correcting marking errors.

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For every appeal in 2023, reviewers checked that all parts of the assessment were marked; the marking was in line with national standards; marks were totalled correctly; and the correct result was entered.

Prior to the release of this year’s preliminary appeals results, students petitioned the Scottish Parliament to press the SQA for a return to the 2022 model. They claimed it resulted in a more complete representation of student achievements over the course of the year.

Appeals this year were most common at the Higher level, where students submitted appeals at a rate of 10.3 per cent.

This was followed by appeals of 7 per cent of Advanced Higher and 5.6 per cent of National 5 results.

As part of the process, students who submitted an appeal were susceptible to a potential downgrade. Overall, only five of the 39,645 appeals resulted in a lower grade.

According to the SQA, the results show that teachers’ estimates – submitted based on attainment earlier in the year – closely aligned to the final grades.

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In total, 49.8 per cent of entries were awarded the same grade as estimated in 2023, 31.9 per cent were awarded a higher grade and 18.3 per cent were awarded a lower grade.

Fiona Robertson, SQA’s Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said that the appeals process was meant to give students a safety net free of charge.

“SQA awarded more than half a million National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher grades in August. 

“Our appointees – experienced teachers and lecturers from across the country – are essential to qualifications delivery in Scotland, and we called upon their expertise again during the appeals process.

“Their understanding of standards ensures that young people have the best opportunity to successfully demonstrate their knowledge and skills and have their achievements recognised and recorded fairly.

“This provides a strong foundation on which to build the next stage of their learning, training, or employment.”

Students whose grades have changed will receive a new certificate later in November.