Shirley-Anne Somerville has defended arrangements that will see some pupils told in early March about what will come up in their exams.

The Education Secretary is under pressure amid concern the measure will not apply equally to all Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) courses.

Guidance will be issued to help focus revision ahead of the 2022 diet. It is among a range of support initiatives being brought in due to ongoing disruption caused by Covid-related teacher and pupil absence.   

Information published on the SQA website shows that, for some subjects, candidates will be given advance notice of content that will or will not be assessed. Other learners will receive a study guide. Those doing National 5 and Higher Dance will be able to take study notes into the exam.

READ MORE: Tutoring for pupils 'non-existent' across swathes of Scotland

SQA bosses stressed previously that variation would reflect the specific characteristics of each course, as well as assessment changes already made.

It was also announced at the start of the session that projects and assignments usually required for certain subjects would be removed. Other candidates – those doing Economics and Classical Studies, for example – have already been told about content that will or will not be assessed.

However, in an indication that fairness worries remain, Conservative MSP Meghan Gallacher asked Ms Somerville to explain why “school pupils taking examinations in some subjects, such as business or geography, will reportedly receive advance notice of what content will or will not be assessed, while those taking other subjects, such as chemistry, will receive no advance notice”.

HeraldScotland: SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson.SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson.

In her response, the Education Secretary stressed question papers for each course would necessarily be different as they assess different types of knowledge, understanding and skills.

“Accordingly, the revision support has been tailored to reflect this, as well as to complement the significant course modifications already made this year,” she told MSPs. “In some courses, learners may be advised which topics or content will, or will not, be assessed in the exam. For others, this additional information has already been provided.

“It is not possible to take the same approach for courses where the exam will assess content from across the whole course, or where the topics or content cannot be separated easily.”  

READ MORE: Pupils to be told what's in exams and graded 'generously'

Commenting previously on the new support plan for learners, SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson said: “I fully understand that there remains significant disruption to learning and teaching caused by the pandemic.

“Teachers and lecturers across the country are working exceptionally hard to ensure learners receive all the support they need. I am also aware that learners may be feeling apprehensive or anxious about sitting formal exams for the first time this year.

“The substantial package of additional support SQA is announcing is the fairest and best way we can help support all learners to demonstrate their level of knowledge, understanding and skills for each course, while also maintaining the integrity, credibility and standard of the qualifications.

"With the support of the education system, we will continue to do all we can to deliver for Scotland’s learners this year.”