SQA issues results for National Courses 2011

SQA today announces details of the 2011 National Course results.
Examination certificates have been sent to 159,744 candidates, down from 160,745 in 2010. The slight decrease reflects falling school rolls across the country.  Collectively over the six-week period from May 3 – June 10 those involved in taking traditional examinations, as opposed to those involved in continuous assessment, sat some 733,500 exams.  They did so at nearly 550 schools and colleges with the examinations being set, monitored, marked and quality assured by nearly 15,000 SQA ‘appointees’.


Despite the slight fall in the number of candidates, entries for National Courses have increased this year at all levels between Intermediate 1 and Advanced Higher. Entries have continued to fall at Standard Grade where the decline is partly for demographic reasons and also because of continued strong growth at Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 levels.

Pass rates remain relatively stable with all-round improvements in performance being seen and this is particularly so at Advanced Higher and Intermediate 1 levels. Percentage pass rates at all levels are shown below.  (The percentage point difference from 2010 is indicated in brackets)

  • Advanced Higher – 79.3% (+1.8)
  • Higher – 75.2% (+0.5)
  • Intermediate 2 – 80.3% (+1.3)
  • Intermediate 1 – 76.0% (+3.2)
  • Standard Grade overall 98.5% (no change) – of which 46.7% (+0.1) achieved Credit level, 40.3% (no change) achieved General level and 11.5% (-0.1) achieved Foundation level
  • Access 3 – 91.9% (+1.1)
  • Access 2 – 62.5% (-0.3)

This is the second year candidates were able to enter for the new Scottish Baccalaureate qualifications. The Scottish Baccalaureate qualifications in Science and Languages attracted 174 entries. This represents a significant increase in last year’s entry of 138.  Of the 174 entries, 138 were for the Science Baccalaureate and 36 were for the Languages Baccalaureate.

The Scottish Baccalaureate award consists of a coherent group of Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications and, uniquely, an Interdisciplinary Project of the candidates’ own choosing which is marked at Advanced Higher level. Learners must achieve passes in at least two Advanced Highers and one Higher in the eligible courses as well as a pass in the Interdisciplinary Project.

The Baccalaureate, which is aimed at high-achieving candidates, is designed to encourage more young people to study science and languages in the later stages of secondary school, to raise the status of the Sixth Year and to assist young people in making the transition from school to higher and further education and employment. The value of the Interdisciplinary Project was recognised by the university admissions body UCAS when it was awarded half the admission tariff points of a full Advanced Higher.

The 2011 Scottish Baccalaureate cohort achieved an overall pass rate of 80.5% - 68 ‘Passes’ and 72 ‘Passes with Distinction’. A ‘Distinction’ requires a grade A in one of the Advanced Highers, one other grade A in one of the other components and at least a grade B in the other components. A Pass is awarded to those who achieve at least a grade C in all mandatory components.

This year, for all candidates taking English at Higher, Intermediate 2 and Intermediate 1 levels, SQA introduced the necessity to submit a compulsory, externally assessed folio of writing. Writing folio examples included dramatic monologues, pieces written in Scots, poems and short stories.  Teachers and examiners have reported that re-introduction of the externally assessed writing folio to English courses has been an extremely worthwhile move. They also reported that this allowed for candidates to be entered for the appropriate level of qualification to recognise their achievements.

Another innovation this year was the introduction at Higher level for the first time of a mandatory paper on Scottish history. The Scottish history section included questions on the Wars of Independence 1286-1328; The Treaty of Union 1689-1740 and Migration and Empire 1830-1939.

All candidates will receive their certificates in the traditional manner by postal delivery but 35,939 candidates also opted to receive results via the SQA’s ‘MySQA’ service whereby, on activation of their accounts, results are sent by text message to their mobile phone and/or by email. Candidates who opted for electronic delivery were due to receive their results by 9.00 am on Thursday, August 4.

Commenting upon this year’s results, Dr Janet Brown, SQA’s chief executive and Scotland’s chief examining officer, said:

“Today, nearly 160,000 candidates will have received the results of their hard work in the form of their SQA certificates, texts and emails.

“For most, the results they receive today will provide tangible proof that their hard work and efforts have been worthwhile. I want to congratulate everyone who has been involved and, whether they will be returning to school or college, moving on to Higher Education or entering the workplace I wish them continued success.

“I want to offer my thanks also to all of the teachers and all SQA staff and our 15,000 Appointees who ensure that the candidates are presented each year in good order and that the massive task of delivering the results within a robust and stable examination environment continues year after year.

"This year, we continue to witness modest but important increases in the attainment levels of our young people.  For me, this reflects in no small measure, the results of the changes teachers have been making to learning and teaching approaches. These improvements come as part of the ongoing Curriculum for Excellence development process. 

“One of the most notable areas of improved attainment has been in the English courses. Undoubtedly, these improvements have been assisted by the changes which we made this year to the assessment of courses in English – changes which better reflect the breadth of the learning which we now expect in English. This new requirement for a mandatory folio of candidates’ discursive and creative writing has resulted in Examiners seeing some really exciting pieces of work and this is surely a sign of even better things to come under the new Curriculum for Excellence regime," said Dr Brown.

Click here for further information about the National Course 2011 statistics.  The Scottish Government have also issued a press release, copies of which can be found here.


SQA Candidate Advice Line

The SQA Candidate Advice Line will open on Thursday, 4 August and close on Saturday, 6 August.  The Advice Line will operate during the following times:

  • Thursday 4 August, from 8am-6pm
  • Friday 5 August, from 8am-5pm
  • Saturday 6 August, from 10am-4pm

The Advice Line number is 0845 278 8080 and the e-mail enquiry address is results@sqa.org.uk.

The SQA Candidate Advice Line provides advice for candidates on the content and layout of their certificate.

Exam Results Helpline

Exam Results Helpline Service provided by Skills Development Scotland will operate between Thursday, 4 August and Friday 26 August.

The Helpline will operate during the following times:

  • Thursday 4th - Friday 5th August, 8am-8pm
  • Saturday 6th - Friday 26th August, 9am-5pm

The Helpline number is 0808 100 8000

The Exam Results Helpline offers candidates impartial careers advice and information on university vacancies and college options.