N5 Geography 2017 to 2018: Fairer Scotland?

Created on: 01 Apr 2020 | Last modified: 15 Nov 2021

N5 Geography 2017 to 2018: Fairer Scotland?

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Murdo Macdonald

Originating Organisation or Projects
EIS Action Research Grants 2018-19


In 2018, the SQA made changes to the assessment of National 5 Geography, the main alteration being an increase in the single paper exam length from 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes. In 2018, there was an 9% overall fall in the number of presentations of pupils for National 5 Geography compared to the previous year.

For State sector Secondary schools, the fall was almost four times that, percentage wise, compared to non-State sector Secondary schools. In some local authorities, the fall in National 5 Geography presentations was as high as 39%. The percentage decrease in the number of entries of pupils in SIMD 1-4 was higher than for the entire cohort. 63.3% of the presentations of SIMD 1-4 candidates in 2017 obtained an A to C grade. In 2018, this had decreased to 58.2%.

How can I use this resource?

Findings in this study may guide advocacy and further research on the topic of assessment methods, attainment gaps and quality assurance in state secondary education.