Results for National Courses and Awards 2013

The Scottish Qualifications Authority today announces details of the results for National Courses and Awards 2013.

Result certificates are being sent to 150,986 candidates, across Scotland, down from 158,908 in 2012. The decrease is largely as a result of the expected fall in the number of candidates being entered early for qualifications in S3.

Over the period from April 26 – June 7, candidates sat 720,000 exams, in addition to coursework and unit assessments throughout the year. 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 – teachers, lecturers and other subject specialists.

Candidates who activated their MySQA accounts, allowing them to receive their results by text message to their mobile phone and/or by email are due to receive their results by 9.00 am on Tuesday, August 6. This year 36,924 candidates have opted for this service. All candidates will receive their certificates by postal delivery.

For the first time, the results statistics include attainment figures for those candidates who have achieved an SQA Award, as well as National Courses, from August 2012 to end of June 2013. In total more than 7,200 awards have been achieved. SQA Awards are suitable for any type of learner and are designed to develop and provide evidence of specific skills that will help them in the world of work and in everyday life.

Commenting upon this year’s results, Dr Janet Brown, SQA’s chief executive and Scotland’s chief examining officer, said: “On behalf of everyone at SQA, I congratulate all candidates on their achievement of Courses and Awards over the past year.


"I wish them continued success as they embark on a wide range of different pathways - moving into the workplace, or a training scheme, returning to school or taking up a place at college or university.

"The increased number of Courses and Awards achieved reflects the tremendous amount of hard work and commitment by candidates across Scotland and the value placed on qualifications in what continues to be a challenging economic environment.

Dr Brown continued, “As we celebrate the achievements of Scotland’s learners, I want to offer my thanks to all of their teachers, lecturers, parents and carers who have supported them in their learning. I would also like to thank all SQA staff and our 15,000 appointees who carry out the huge task of delivering the results and ensure that the high standards of Scotland’s national qualifications – and their assessments - continue to be maintained every year.”


Whilst there has been an overall decrease this year in the total entries for National Courses, entries have increased at Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher levels. There have been decreases in entries at Access, Standard Grade and Intermediate 1 levels.

The pass rate for Standard Grades was in line with last year, with a slight increase in passes at Credit Level and a slight fall at General and Foundation level. This is the last year of Standard Grades, which were first available in Scottish schools in 1986.

There was a slight increase in pass rates at Higher level.

There was an increase in the pass rate for the Scottish Baccalaureate, and also increases at Advanced Higher, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Access 2 levels. Percentage pass rates at all levels are shown below. (The percentage point difference from 2012 is indicated in brackets).

Scottish Baccalaureate – 85.9% (+6.7)

  • Advanced Higher – 82.1% (+2.0)
  • Higher – 77.4% (+0.5)
  • Intermediate 2 – 81.8% (+1.6)
  • Intermediate 1 – 77.8% (+1.6)
  • Standard Grade overall 98.9% (+0.1) –  within which 49.4% (+1.4) attained Credit level, 39.6% (-0.4) attained General level and 9.9% (-0.9) attained Foundation level
  • Access 3 – 93.6% (+0.4)
  • Access 2 – 71.0% (+8.5)

Higher English and Mathematics

Entries for Higher English were 30,401 up from 29,683 in 2012 and entries for Higher Mathematics were 20,663 up from 20,564 in 2012. There was an increase in the Higher English pass rate of 0.7 percentage points, while the pass rate for Higher Mathematics fell by 0.8 percentage points. The overall pass rates for Higher English and Maths are in keeping with that of recent years. 

The number and performance of the candidates who sat Higher English continues to be high. The writing folio element of the qualification, introduced in 2012, has continued to allow learners to show their ability to write at a high standard throughout the entire period of the course.

The 2013 Higher Mathematics examination was considered to be at a slightly higher level of difficulty than that of recent years for candidates at a C grade but at a similar level of difficulty for the candidates at an A grade.

As Scotland’s national qualifications body, SQA sets, maintains and monitors qualification and assessment standards to ensure that standards are accurate, fair, and consistently applied across all qualifications and over time. This means that we make sure that the grade a learner achieves in a Course represents the same standard as in previous years.
So when it is found that an examination was easier or harder than in previous years, our established robust process ensures that a candidate achieving a specific grade is rewarded in the same way as a candidate working at the same ability level in previous years.

Revised sciences

There was a significant increase in the number of candidates taking the Higher revised sciences, introduced in 2012 – Biology, Chemistry, Human Biology and Physics. The first candidates also sat the revised Advanced Higher sciences this year.

The revised science qualifications have updated content and context to ensure that they reflect the current practices in each field. The changes also include a greater opportunity to analyse and interpret scientific learning in unfamiliar situations.

Chinese languages

The number of candidates sitting Chinese languages across all levels (from Access to Advanced Higher) continues to rise, up 36.3 per cent since 2010. Courses in Mandarin (Simplified) are the most popular and are usually taken by learners from a non-heritage background.


SQA has also released details of the number of certificated entries for its Awards in 2012-13, up from 3,380 in 2011-12 to 7,206 in 2012-13. There has been a significant increase in both the number of Awards available and the number of candidates achieving Awards - up from 3,154 in 2011-12 to 6,750 in 2012-13.

SQA Awards recognise the life and work skills that learners gain from activities they may already be taking part in at school, at college or elsewhere — such as sport, mentoring, voluntary work or fund-raising activities.

There are a large number of Awards available including existing areas like Employability, Leadership and Personal Finance and new Awards such as Modern Languages for Life & Work and Religion, Belief & Values.

The increase in the number of Awards reflects the desire of employers across Scotland for school-leavers to have a broader range of skills.

SQA Candidate Advice Line 

The SQA Candidate Advice Line will open on Tuesday 6 August and close on Friday 9 August. The Advice Line will operate during the following times:

  • Tuesday 6 August, from 8am-6pm
  • Wednesday 7 August, from 9am-6pm
  • Thursday 8 August, from 9am-5pm
  • Friday 9 August, from 9am – 5pm

The Advice Line number is 0345 279 1000 and the e-mail enquiry address is

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 Tuesday 6 August and Wednesday 14 August 2013.

The Helpline will operate during the following times:

  • Tuesday 6 August and Wednesday 7 August, 8am-8pm
  • Weekdays from Thursday 8 August - Wednesday 14 August, 9am-5pm
  • Weekends from Thursday 8 August – Wednesday 14 August, 10am-6pm

The Helpline number is 0808 100 8000

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