Results Day

Record number of Higher and Advanced Higher passes.

The number of Higher passes is at a record level since the advent of Devolution, and the number of Advanced Higher passes is the highest since their introduction in 2001.

Almost 137,000 learners are receiving Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results today – the most since 2017.

Pass rates overall remain high, despite the exceptional challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and are significantly higher than the historic picture - up 12.6 percentage points for Highers compared with 2019, but down slightly on last year.

With an exam diet not possible because of the pandemic, this year’s grades for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers were based on teachers’ judgement of evidence of attainment.

The results show:

  • the highest number of Higher passes since at least 1999
  • the highest number of Advanced Higher passes since the qualifications were introduced in 2001
  • an increase in the number of entries for National Qualifications compared with 2020
  • the percentage of grade As awarded at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher level is at a record high
  • pass rates at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher are higher than in 2019, although slightly down on 2020
  • the poverty-related attainment gap is narrower than in 2019, although slightly wider than in 2020

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“This is a strong set of results, achieved under extraordinary circumstances.

“It’s been one of the toughest academic years we’ve ever known, with the pandemic throwing significant challenges at our young people. So to have this many learners receiving certificates and for the number of passes at Higher and Advanced Higher to be so high is incredible.

“These results are testament to the hard work, resilience and determination of learners – and to the dedication of their endlessly supportive teachers and lecturers, who have been with them every step of the way, going above and beyond to make sure pupils got the grades they deserve.

“Learners can be confident that their awards are fair, consistent and credible. Indeed, industry representatives have made it clear how much they value this year’s qualifications.

“As in any year, the results highlight some areas for us to focus attention on. Closing the poverty-related attainment gap and ensuring every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential remains central to our work. We know that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean our efforts to deliver equity in education are more vital than ever, so we are investing a further £1 billion over the course of this Parliament to help close the gap.

“While congratulating those receiving SQA results today, we should also recognise, and celebrate in equal measure, the successes of young people whose achievements are not measured in national qualifications but in other ways. They should be proud of their hard work and resilience during such a difficult year.

“For some young people, today’s results may not be what they would have liked. There is always a next step - and there is a range of support and practical advice available for learners, and their parents and carers, to help in that onward journey, whether it’s staying in education, training, or moving into the workplace.”


Detailed information on attainment statistics is available from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Students and parents and carers can get further information and support from the  Skills Development Scotland website.

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