Got your results, what next?

About 6 mins

This year there have been some big changes to how the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) are awarding qualifications.  

You’ll be told by your teacher or lecturer what your provisional results are before the summer break. The SQA have advised that they won’t change these results, but colleges and universities are still working to results day, Tuesday 10 August.   

This means that you might have more questions than normal over the summer break and you might be starting to think earlier about what you're going to do next.  

We asked Pauline Graham, who helps run the Skills Development Scotland Results Helpline, to answer some of the questions that are being asked about this year’s results. 

I’m not happy with the results my teachers gave me, what can I do? 

The first thing you should do is speak with your teacher or lecturer to try to understand how they came to their decision, what assessment evidence was used to support their decision; and the quality checks they used (both local and national) to ensure their assessment of you was fair and in line with the national standard.  

If, after they have explained this, you are still unhappy, you can register that you want to appeal on the SQA website.  This is a free service and you do not need your school’s approval to submit this request.   

However, it’s important to know that, as in previous years, your result(s) can go up or down following an appeal.  

How will the appeals work this year?  

If you want to appeal one or more of your provisional results, you must register on the SQA website between 25 June and 12 August this year.  Appeals will be processed following Results Day on Tuesday 10 August.  

If you have an offer of a course, training opportunity or a job which is dependent on a result you wish to appeal, you must make SQA aware of this when submitting your information so they can treat this as a priority request. 

Once the Scottish Qualification Certificates are delivered on 10 August, you should have another conversation with your teacher or lecturer to hear their professional judgement on whether an appeal is in your best interests.   

Even if you’ve left school or college, you can and should still do this.  The SQA are clear that the final decision on appeals must be made by the candidate.  If you decide to go ahead, you don’t need to do anything else.  If you decide you don’t want to go ahead with your appeal, you must notify the SQA by 12 August – email    

If you decide after the 12 August that you wish to submit an appeal, this can only be done by your teacher or lecturer so you should speak to them.  The deadline for priority appeals is 24 August, and all other appeals can be submitted until 27 August. 

For the most up-to-date information, check out the Appeals 2021 information on the SQA’s website. 

When will I receive a certificate showing my confirmed results? 

The Scottish Qualification Certificate is being delivered to all candidates on Tuesday 10 August.  This will show your confirmed SQA results for 2020/21. 

Will I receive a text or email with my confirmed results? 

If you have signed up to MySQA and requested to receive a text and/or an email with your results, then yes, you’ll receive this on 10 August 2021.  These are issued from 8am and usually start to arrive shortly after this. 

I don’t think I’ve met the grades to be accepted onto my college/uni course – should I look at a Plan B? 

You should always have a Plan B!  This year is unlike any other, in that you’ll have your provisional results from the end of June.  

This means that if you’ve not met the conditions of your offer, you have over six weeks to explore alternative options in case you’re not accepted onto your original course.   You can speak with one of our careers advisers to discuss your options.  Call us on 0800 917 8000 (press option 2) – we’re here all summer: Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. 

It’s worthwhile to remember that colleges and unis won’t release their decisions on places until Results Day on 10 August – and sometimes courses will still offer you a place, even if you’ve just missed the conditions they set. While it’s important to plan and understand options…we recommend you don’t make any final decisions until at least Results Day when you have all the facts in front of you.  

Will college or uni accept my grades this year? 

Yes!  The SQA have been working really hard with UCAS (the University and College Admission Service), Colleges Scotland, and Universities Scotland to ensure that this year’s grades are comparable with those attained in other years, and therefore viewed in the same way.  

My provisional results don't meet the conditions of any of my course choices. What should I do? 

First of all, try not to panic.  This year, more than any other, you have plenty of time to explore alternative options — and there’s always an alternative out there for you.  Some options you could consider include: 

  • Applying through Clearing for alternative University courses 
  • Applying to study a similar course at college with the intention of applying for accelerated entry into your Uni course at year 2 or 3 (if allowed - check with admissions) 
  • Exploring apprenticeship options — where you could gain a qualification and work based learning experience at the same time 
  • Taking a gap year to pick up other life experiences such as work or travel 

You can call us on 0800 917 8000 to speak with a adviser about all the options available to you so you can make an informed choice. 

When will I hear back from my preferred college or uni about my course application? 

Colleges and universities will be advising applicants of their places from Tuesday 10 August, once the SQA have released the confirmed results.  

What other options do I have besides going to college or university? 

If you don’t think college or university is for you, there are plenty of options that might suit you better. You can chat about jobs, internships and other types of work experience with a careers adviser, or explore what it might be like to do a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship. Modern Apprenticeships allow you to work towards gaining industry-recognised qualifications, while earning a wage at the same time. Find out more about Modern Apprenticeships

A Graduate Apprenticeship might work for you. They allow you to learn on the job as well as study at college or university. You can gain your degree faster and graduate with a lot of relevant experience. Find out more about Graduate Apprenticeships

If you're staying on at school, you could also consider taking on a Foundation Apprenticeship. They're the same level as a Higher, and you choose it as one of your subjects in S5 or S6. You'll get industry knowledge and experience plus a recognised qualification. There's no final exam, as you're assessed on an on-going basis over one or two years.  Find out what's available in your school on  

My child is disappointed with their results and doesn’t know what to do next. Who can we go to for help? 

You or your child can chat to an adviser on 0800 917 8000 to get advice on Clearing, resits and appeals. The adviser can also chat to your child about their career ambitions, and help them to think of alternative options which they can apply to, which should help re-focus their future plans. 

Try to be supportive and help your child explore alternative options rather than dwelling on the disappointment of their results.  There are plenty of successful people who have had to change their career path along the way, and our advisers can explore all the options ahead with your child. We have more information to help you here on My World of Work — find out more about how you can help your child with their options.  

How are National 2 to Advanced Higher courses graded?  

Courses at National 2, National 3, and National 4 levels are not graded — the units that make up the course are assessed as pass or fail. 

Courses at National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher are graded A–D. This year grades are being decided by course teachers and lecturers based on the coursework completed by the candidate throughout the academic year. 

I received better results than I was expecting, can I change my course? 

UCAS Adjustment allows people who have met and exceeded the conditions for their firm choice to apply for an alternative course whilst retaining their original offer. Adjustment is available between 19-31 August and is entirely optional. If you think you may be interested in using Adjustment when it opens, contact 0800 917 8000 and our advisers can help you decide if it’s a good option for you. 

Remember, you can speak with an SDS adviser about all your career options by calling 0800 917 8000 (option 2) during our opening times: Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. 


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