Exams underway as page turns on next generation of National Qualifications

This year, just over 152,000 candidates in 530 schools and colleges will sit a total of 732,000 exams from Standard Grade to Advanced Higher, starting on Friday 26 April with Standard Grade Classical Studies and concluding on Friday 7 June with Higher Early Education and Childcare.

The marks from the exams will be combined with those from coursework, projects and results from internal assessments which candidates will have undertaken throughout the year. Taken together, these will determine candidates’ overall results which they will receive on Tuesday 6 August.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said: "Good qualifications are more important today than ever - and I send my very best wishes to all candidates sitting their Standard Grades, Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers over the coming weeks. Their hard work and dedication will stand them in good stead to achieve their desired results.”

Each year, SQA’s in-house team of assessment experts is supported by some 15,000 ‘appointees’ who help to set, invigilate and mark nearly two million exam scripts and quality assure the internal assessments. Dr Brown added: “We rely on the expertise of our appointees, who bring huge experience from the educational sector in Scotland. I thank them, and SQA's own hard-working staff, for their continued highly-valued support and commitment to maintaining high standards."

Candidates who have signed up and activated their personal MySQA accounts are reminded they can choose to receive their results by text and/or email by 9am on Tuesday 6 August. They need to log onto www.mysqa.info and register by Tuesday 9 July and activate their account by Wednesday 17 July. So far, more than 33,000 candidates have registered for the service. In addition to electronic delivery, all candidates will continue to receive their results by post on Tuesday 6 August.

Those students currently working towards their Standard Grades will be the last to take these assessments as the countdown begins to the introduction of Scotland's new National Qualifications. Dr Brown continued, “Standard Grades have served the young people of Scotland well – helping them prepare for their next steps.”

For the past 25 years, young people across Scotland have been taking Standard Grades, but these qualifications will be replaced by the new Nationals for 2013-14.

Dr Brown continued, “The new qualifications are designed to provide the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to prepare students for further study, employment or training and are a natural continuation of the way pupils have learned under Curriculum for Excellence. These qualifications are modern, relevant and practical and designed to equip young people with a wide range of skills.”

Dr Gill Stewart, the SQA's Director of Qualifications Development, said: "There is more of a focus on coursework in the new qualifications, to ensure young people are consolidating and can apply the skills and knowledge they have developed throughout the year – and ensure their qualifications reflect that.

"SQA has been working hard to support teachers and lecturers to make the transition to the new qualifications by running implementation events and producing assessment support materials. SQA will publish the final batch of materials for schools and colleges at the end of April. We are committed to working in partnership with teachers, lecturers and our other national partners to make the transition a real success for Scotland and its young people.”

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said “I regularly visit schools and colleges the length and breadth of the country. I know how much hard work learners and teachers put into preparing for their final assessments and I would like to wish all those students the best of luck for the next few weeks.”