Supporting study

Preparing for assessments

There are no Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) marked exams or coursework for 2021. SQA has provided subject-specific guidance and assessment materials to support schools, colleges and training providers in gathering evidence that is consistent with the national standard. Teachers will use this guidance to gather your child's assessment evidence which will be used to decide their results. It is still important that children are supported at home and school to prepare them well for assessments being carried out in school.

The type of support required may depend upon the course assessment. Assessments may be carried out using one or two of the following methods:

  • assignment
  • case study
  • practical activity
  • performance
  • portfolio
  • project / research investigation
  • question paper/test

Regular attendance in session 2020-21 has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your child falls behind through illness or multiple periods of isolation, you can speak to the school about any support which may help them catch up.

Reassuring and encouraging your child, and taking an appropriate level of interest in what they are doing, will help them get through what continues to be a difficult time. This will also help them to do their best.

Managing their time

The number of competing priorities on a child's time often makes it difficult for them to decide where to start and what to do next.

Preparing for assessments is often something that some children only begin to think about in the last few weeks (and sometimes only days) before the event.

Encourage your child to start revising in good time to avoid cramming and panic.

Subject teachers will give students information on when internal assessments will take place.

Getting organised

  • Talk to your child and help them decide on a fixed area at home where they can study with the least amount of distractions. Make sure that they have everything they need e.g. pens, pencils, paper, notebooks.
  • Ensure that snacks and water are available to prevent any unnecessary distractions and make sure the study area is comfortable and well lit.
  • Speak to other members of the family, particularly younger children, about respecting this study area and as far as possible ask them to try to avoid interrupting.
  • If it is difficult for your child to study at home, ask your school if it can help.
  • Encourage your child to get their notes in order for each subject before starting. Having notes organised into topic areas for each subject may be helpful.

Tips to encourage studying

  • Assessments can be stressful so encourage your child to take breaks. Hour long revision sessions with short regular breaks of 10 minutes can be effective for children.
  • They may prefer to complete each task and then build in a break rather than stick to definite time slots. It is the quality of studying which is important.
  • Ask your child how you can best support them with studying. They may find it useful for you to read through revision notes with them. Alternatively, asking them what they have learned in their revision may be helpful.

Keeping well

  • Encourage your child to get plenty of sleep. This is particularly important the night before an assessment as it can help them perform better.
  • Encourage your child to eat well.
  • Help your child to avoid any unnecessary anxiety or panic by making sure they arrive on time for their assessment and have everything they need e.g. pens, pencils.
  • Encourage exercise.

Useful websites

Revision guides

Past papers and marking instructions

  • Past question papers: Download SQA National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher past papers and marking instructions. Courses have been modified this year due to COVID-19. Your child should check with their teacher before using past papers for revising.

Additional support needs/disabilities

  • Children who have additional support needs or a disability can get assessment support when they are studying for SQA qualifications. Parents and carers should contact their child’s school to discuss the different types of support available.

'Nationals in a Nutshell' guides

  • National 4 in a Nutshell - a series of summaries of the National 4 qualifications from the National Parent Forum of Scotland for parents and carers. Please note that the course assignment (added value unit) for National 4 is optional for 2021 to allow more teaching and learning time.
  • National 5 in a Nutshell - a series of summaries of the National 5 qualifications from the National Parent Forum of Scotland for parents and carers. Please note there are no SQA marked exams or coursework for 2021. Teachers will use your child’s assessment evidence to decide their results.
  • Highers in a Nutshell – written for parents and carers, these are clear concise guides to Highers. Please note there are no SQA marked exams or coursework for 2021. Teachers will use your child’s assessment evidence to decide their results.

Related links

SQA support for parents/carers - Information to help you support your child if they are studying National Qualifications.

SQA support for learners – Information to help children stay informed and prepare for their assessments in 2021.

Support for pupils who are worried about exams on the Reach website.