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Proposals for 2021 NQ assessments published for consultation

Proposals for 2021 NQ assessments published for consultation

As part of the ongoing public health situation, the SQA has published proposed amendments to the way candidates be assessed in the 2020-2021 session.

Given the inequitable circumstances which education found itself in during lockdown, and on the ongoing potential for candidates and teachers alike to self-isolate, as well as centres closing for deep cleaning, the SQA is seeking peoples’ views on how assessment might look over the next year.

The SQA has published a technical guidance document which sheds light on their proposals for assessment in each National Qualification subject in 2020-2021. Anyone who is interested can then respond via the official survey.

People who might wish to participate in the consultation have until Monday 24th August 2020 to complete the online survey.

As part of the proposed adjustments for National 5 Modern Studies, the SQA is suggesting that candidates are given further optionality in six mark questions. The SQA’s technical guidance suggests that there will be two options for each 6-mark question in next year’s exam, giving candidates the opportunity to decide which one they’ll answer.

The SQA argues that optionality already exists with the 8-mark questions in National 5 Modern Studies, and that by extending this to 6-mark questions will help candidates who might have missed course content. There is no proposal to amend or otherwise remove the Assignment, at this point.

For Higher Modern Studies, the SQA is proposing that candidates are given more optionality for all sections of Paper 1. The SQA’s technical guidance proposes that there be 4 questions for Section 1 of the paper, while Sections 2 and 3 could offer candidates 3 questions.

In a similar move to National 5, the SQA proposes that no changes are necessary for the Assignment, which “lends itself to blended learning”, according to the technical guidance document. There are no proposals to change Paper 2 of Higher Modern Studies.

At Advanced Higher, the SQA now proposes that candidates are offered two extended response questions for each topic, with candidates still expected to complete two separate topics. There are no proposed amendments to the methodology questions or dissertation.

Those interested can access the SQA’s technical guidance document here, while the survey can be completed via this link.


The Modern Studies Association (MSA) is the professional body for Modern Studies Teachers, in Scotland. The MSA uses its position to consult with members and relay feedback to relevant bodies, such as Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Membership of the MSA is free and open to all Modern Studies Teachers.

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