SQA results

Higher passes remain strong despite smaller school cohort.

The number of Higher passes has remained stable over the past year despite a fall of more than 2.4% in the S5 and S6 school roll, new figures from the SQA show.

On the day the national results are released, it was revealed there were 147,000 Higher passes, with a pass rate of 76.8%, compared to 77.0% in 2017.

The results showed a record number of entries for Advanced Higher (24,331) since changes to this qualification were made in 2015/16, with attainment rates remaining high at 80.5%.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney today met students receiving their results at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh.

Mr Swinney said:

“My congratulations to the thousands of young people on their hard work and effort leading up to today, and to the teachers and lecturers who have worked tirelessly to prepare them. Results day is a time to celebrate the achievements and dedication of learners right across the country, especially in this the Year of Young People.

“Higher passes remain stable despite a continuing fall in the number of young people on the school roll, while the number of Advanced Highers being taken continues to grow.

“At subject level, we have seen a continued rise in passes in Mathematics at Higher and Advanced Higher, with the National 5 Application of Mathematics pass rate up 11.3 percentage points. Pass rates for English fluctuated in both directions across the different qualification types - up 5.3 percentage points at Advanced Higher level but falling at Higher and National 5 by 1.4 percentage points and 2.4 percentage points respectively.

“I am pleased to see the much greater range of skills-based qualifications is also delivering for students, with the number of awards increasing to 50,305 this year, more than double the number in 2012.

“It is important to remember that we will always see slight variations in pass rates and the results show that we have a robust, credible assessment system in place.

“To address pupil and teacher workload, this is the first year where unit assessments have been removed from National 5, and the overall pass rate remains high at 77.4%.

“It is clear that our young people have performed strongly, against rigorous standards, and are now in an exciting position to decide what they go on to do next. Results day is the culmination of months of hard work and it is important to remember that, whatever the outcome, it is only the beginning of a journey. Anyone who did not receive the results they had hoped for, or who is just unsure about their next steps, should get in touch with the SDS exam helpline for access to expert careers advice.”


Detailed information on all results is available from the Scottish Qualifications Authority

In addition to the removal of unit assessments from National 5, Grade D has been extended for all National 5 courses to a notional 40-49%. As a consequence, Grade D statistics (and No Award results) from 2016/17 and previous years are not directly comparable. 

School cohort has been decreasing steadily due to low birth rates. See: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/births/births-time-series-data

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


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