THE Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been accused of an “unacceptable shambles” after the early release of exam revision support for pupils.

Revision guidance for National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher exams was made available on Tuesday and was described by SQA boss as the “fairest and best way” to help children in the tests while “maintaining the integrity, credibility and standard of the qualifications”.

The SQA has apologised after the support, which should have been issued to schools, pupils and teachers on Tuesday, was actually published online on Monday evening.

Exams have been cancelled in each of the previous two years in response to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the SQA has said there is a “clear intention” for them to take place from April to June.

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In subjects where pupils will sit tests, the support includes some detail of content that will or will not be in the exam and details of “significant modifications” to exams and assessments.

Exam technique advice includes suggestions such as “follow the instructions in the question paper carefully”, “you should spend more time on a 12-mark question than you do on an eight-mark one” and “think before you start writing”.

Physics pupils preparing for their Higher exams have been told: “It’s always a good idea to spell words correctly. An incorrectly spelled word may make your answer unclear or ambiguous.”

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive, said: “These revision materials and guidance are part of SQA’s commitment to providing a substantial package of additional support for learners, which includes significant modifications to this year’s exams and assessments, as they make the final preparations for their exams.

“The measures are the fairest and best way we can help support all learners, while also maintaining the integrity, credibility and standard of the qualifications.”

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, Michael Marra, is calling for Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, to respond to questions about the situation at Holyrood on Tuesday.

He tweeted: “I have submitted an Urgent Question today regarding the latest unacceptable shambles from the @sqanews.

Pupils and teachers deserve answers from the Government and @S_A_Somerville must take responsibility.

“Once more, the SQA shows contempt for those it is meant to serve.”

Education author and former secondary school teacher, James McEnaney, who now teaches English to college students, said the support was “another complete and abject failure” by the SQA.

“What they have managed to release is something even worse than anyone was expected. It’s astonishing,” he said.

Criticising the appeals process that prevents pupils from challenging grades if they get their predicted grade, McEnaney said: “The best thing that could probably happen now would be the restrictions around the appeals process to be removed so that genuinely anybody can appeal.

“Another thing would be to produce proper exam support material – the kind of thing that was promised.

“A couple of subjects – maths and business studies – have got lots of detail. Everybody else has basically got nothing.

“Maybe the thing to do is try try to equalise that, but that would involve trusting the SQA doing their job and they have demonstrated that they are not a competent organisation.

“We genuinely we may well be at the stage where this compounding collection of disdain for young people, contempt for teachers and sheer outright incompetence means that this is not a problem that can be fixed.

“I hate it because I’m a teacher and want to help students, but I I don’t see any way to make exams this year fair.”

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Scottish Tory and Labour figures attacked the resources, while Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer also said: “This support from the SQA is woefully inadequate. The documents should be withdrawn and immediately revised. It is insulting to issue senior pupils with advice as meaningless as ‘try to answer every question you are asked’.

“After so much disruption throughout this term, these study guides should have made clear which topic areas would and would not come up in exams.

“Students should have been given the information required to focus both their revision and any catch-up learning still needed after periods of Covid-related absence.

“Instead, many of these guides are full of bland platitudes and the kind of basic advice already being issued by schools and colleges. Extra support was needed, extra support was promised but that is not what the qualifications agency has delivered.”