Pass rates rise for school pupils after exam-free year

Throughout Tuesday, around 138,000 pupils will find out the results of their National, Higher and Advanced Higher courses.

Exam results have been published in Scotland, showing an increase in pass rates.

Throughout Tuesday, around 138,000 school pupils will find out the results of their National, Higher and Advanced Higher courses after an exam-free year.

This year’s results are based on estimates from the pupils’ teachers and national moderation by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) after schools closed when the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Results published by the Scottish Government show that the National 5 pass rate was 81.1%, the Higher pass rate was 78.9%, and the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9%.

The pass rates have risen from 78.2%, 74.8% and 79.4% respectively.

Three out of every four grade estimates were not adjusted by the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA).

Around 133,000 entries were adjusted from the initial estimate, around a quarter of all entries, and 6.9% of these were adjusted up and 93.1% were adjusted down, with 96% of all adjusted grades changed by one grade.

Speaking after the results were published, deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Without moderation, pass rates at grades A-C compared to last year would have increased by 10.4 percentage points for National 5, by 14 percentage points for Higher and by 13.4 percentage points for Advanced Higher – annual change never been seen in Scottish exam results. 

“I know teachers and lecturers will always want the best for their pupils but I believe that teachers have acted professionally.”

The education secretary said the SQA has ensured “sufficient resources are in place” for the free appeals process, allowing teachers and pupils to challenge specific results.

He also paid tribute to students, teachers and the SQA, who he said worked hard “in the face of an incredibly tough few months”.

Swinney said: “Young people have received awards that recognise their hard work and allow them to move onto the next stage in their lives.

“Scottish exams have never before been cancelled. 

“I am immensely grateful to all teachers and lecturers who worked incredibly hard to assess achievement this year, and to the SQA for developing the certification model – without either, young people could not have received qualifications.”

Help and support

  • Skills Development Scotland’s exam results helpline: 0808 100 8000
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