Scottish exam pass rates rise in final Standard Grades year

This year saw the final Standard Grade exams before the qualification is replaced by the new National 4 and National 5 qualifications

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Exam pass rates in Scotland have increased for all major qualifications, including the final year of results in Standard Grades.

About 151,000 candidates have found out how they did in the exams.

The vast majority were in their fourth, fifth or sixth year at secondary school.

There was a slight rise in the pass rate for Highers, while the pass rate for Standard Grades was also marginally above last year.

Where to get advice

  • SQA Candidate Advice Line - phone number, 0345 279 1000 and the e-mail enquiry address is results@sqa.org.uk
  • Skills Development Scotland Exam Results helpline - Phone number, 0808 100 8000. The line is open from 08:00 to 20:00 on 6 and 7 August. On weekdays until 14 August it will be open from 09:00 to 17:00 and on weekends from 10:00 to 18:00.

An exams results helpline received more than 500 calls by this lunchtime from young people and their parents.

Calls ranged from enquiries about the appeals process to finding out how clearing works.

It has also been confirmed that 22,770 students in Scotland have been accepted to Scottish universities on exam results day, an increase of 2%.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which runs the exam system, said there had been a "tremendous amount of hard work" done by the candidates.

Students celebrate their exam results Time to celebrate - Rebecca McIroy, Iain McIroy, Charan Singh, Jock Breckenridge, Adam McInnes, Asmara Izzadeen and Tara Kaur from Glasgow's Bellahouston Academy

Between 26 April and 7 June, students sat a total of 720,000 exams at nearly 550 schools and colleges.

Of the tens of thousands who received their results on Tuesday, 37,000 chose to be informed by text message or email by 09:00. All candidates were also notified by post.

Scottish exams - Key stats

Exam Pass rate Change from 2012

Scottish Baccalaureate

85.9%

+6.7

Advanced Higher

82.1%

+2.0

Higher

77.4%

+0.5

Intermediate 2

81.8%

+1.6

Intermediate 1

77.8%

+1.6

Standard Grade overall

98.9%

+0.1

Access 3

93.6%

+0.4

Access 2

71.0%

+8.5

The tests were set, monitored, marked and quality assured by nearly 15,000 SQA appointees - teachers, lecturers and other subject specialists.

This year saw the final Standard Grade exams before the qualification is replaced by the new National 4 and National 5 qualifications. Standard Grades have been available in Scottish schools since 1986.

Fourth year students typically sat about seven Standard Grades and usually took exams at two levels to give them the best chance of achieving as high a grade as possible - credit and general level or general and foundation level.

Just over 308,000 Standard Grade entries were made this year in 33 subjects, with 49% of entries achieving credit level, 39% achieving general level and just under 10% achieving foundation level.

The SQA said the pass rate for Standard Grades was in line with last year, with a slight increase in passes at credit level and a slight fall at general and foundation level.

Overall, the Standard Grade pass rate was 98.9. This was 0.1% higher than in 2012.

Rising pass rates

There was a slight rise in both the number of entries for Highers - which are usually sat by pupils in fifth and sixth year - and the pass rate.

Just over 183,000 entries were made in a total of 67 subjects. The pass rate rose from 76.9% last year to 77.4% this year.

There had been some controversy over the Higher Maths exam after a claim it was too easy.

Scottish exams - Key stats

Information 2012 2013

Total candidates

158,908

150,986

Standard Grade entries

319,986

308,243

Higher English entries

29,683

30,401

Higher Maths

20,564

20,663

Scottish Baccalaureate

182

191

Total exam entries

775,410

762,897

The accusation came in June from Clive Chambers, a former principal examiner in maths for the SQA.

However, the SQA said the pass rate for the Higher maths exam fell slightly this year and would have been harder for some candidates than in previous years.

The Higher maths exam was sat by 20,663 students - about 100 more than in 2012 - with a pass rate drop of 0.8%.

The SQA said the exam was at a "slightly higher level of difficulty than of recent years" for candidates at C grade but "a similar level of difficulty" for those at A grade.

Entries for Higher English stood at 30,401 - up from the 29,683 in 2012 - with the pass rate rising by 0.7%.

The SQA added that the overall pass rates for Higher English and maths were in keeping with the figures for recent years.

The number of entries for Advanced Highers rose and so did the pass rate. There were just over 22,100 entries and the pass rate was 82.1%, compared with 80.1% last year.

Advanced Highers are usually taken by students who have already gained a Higher in a subject.

Across all exams and qualifications, the overall number of entries fell 1.6%.

Start Quote

The exam pass rates are building on a solid record of achievement, meaning that today is a time for celebration”

End Quote Angela Constance Youth Employment Minister

There were rises in uptake for Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher while at all other levels entries decreased.

SQA chief executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: "As we celebrate the achievements of Scotland's learners, I want to offer my thanks to all of their teachers, lecturers, parents and carers who have supported them in their learning.

"I would also like to thank all SQA staff and our 15,000 appointees who carry out the huge task of delivering the results and ensure that the high standards of Scotland's national qualifications - and their assessments - continue to be maintained every year."

Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance added: "The exam pass rates are building on a solid record of achievement, meaning that today is a time for celebration.

"Record pass rates in a set of rigorously assessed exams confirm Scotland's strong record in attainment and I wish the class of 2013 the very best of luck in their next steps, be it another year in school, or moving on to college, university, training or employment."

Candidate helpline

Two helplines are open for candidates following the issuing of the exam results.

Skills Development Scotland has a helpline for candidates whose results were either better or worse than they had expected.

Their advisers can offer information on college and university vacancies, employment and training opportunities and exam resits.

Meanwhile, the SQA Candidate Advice Line provides information for candidates on the content and layout of their certificate.

  • Skills Development Scotland Exam Results helpline - Phone number, 0808 100 8000. The line is open from 08:00 to 20:00 on 6 and 7 August. On weekdays until 14 August it will be open from 09:00 to 17:00 and on weekends from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • SQA Candidate Advice Line - phone number, 0345 279 1000 and the e-mail enquiry address is results@sqa.org.uk

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