Scotland's learners celebrate 'strong results' on Results Day 2023

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Learners across Scotland will receive their exam results today (Tuesday 8 August, 2023), as the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) welcomed ‘strong results’ and further progress on the path back to normal awarding.

Around 140,000 learners – from Shetland to the Borders – will discover how they performed when National Qualification results are announced this morning.

While everyone will get a copy of their results in the traditional big, brown envelope, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) also revealed that thousands of learners have opted to discover their results by text and/or email through its MySQA service.

It is not only school pupils who are being recognised for their achievements today. Thousands of college students and adult learners of all ages will also be receiving their results. In addition to Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers, a range of vocational-based qualifications are being awarded, including National Progression Awards, National Certificates, Skills for Work and SQA Awards.

To ensure fairness for learners, SQA used a ‘sensitive approach’ to awarding for 2023. This recognised that learning and teaching are still in the recovery phase from the pandemic, and took that into account while maintaining the credibility and high standards of Scotland’s qualifications.

The headline figures for 2023

Category National 5 Higher Advanced Higher
Entries 321,360 191,810 27,750
A-C attainment rate 78.8% 77.1% 79.8%
A attainment rate 38.6% 32.8% 33.0%

Overall, results in 2023 are between 2019, the last exam year before the pandemic, and 2022, when a ‘generous approach’ was applied to awarding for the first year of the return to exams.

Number of qualifications at Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 1-6 attained

Qualifications at SCQF levels 1-6 Number attained
Awards 32,695
National Certificates 2,555
National Progression Awards 23,570
Year National 5
A-C attainment
A-C attainment
Advanced Higher
A-C attainment
2019 78.2% 74.8% 79.4%
2023 78.8% 77.1% 79.8%
2022 80.8% 78.9% 81.3%

*Note: There have been different approaches to awarding in each year since 2019. This means that comparisons of attainment between years should be treated with significant caution and do not allow for conclusions to be drawn on changes in education performance during this time.

National Course Course entries Number attained % attained
National 2 3,030 2,095 69.2%
National 3 22,480 18,930 84.2%
National 4 138,670 121,810 87.8%
Skills for Work 16,515 13,305 80.6%

Fiona Robertson, SQA’s Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said: "Our warmest congratulations to the 140,000 learners receiving their certificates today. They should be proud of their achievements.

"Learners can be confident that the qualifications that they have earned – by demonstrating their knowledge and skills – provide a solid foundation for the next stage in their learning, training or employment. We wish them all continued success.

"These strong results also prove the resilience of Scotland’s learners, whose success has been enabled and supported by the hard work of teachers, lecturers and the wider education community.

"This year does not mark a return to normal for learners and educators. But it marks another significant and positive step on the path back to normal awarding, following the years of disruption to learning and teaching caused by the pandemic.

"Our sensitive approach to awarding this year was developed with and supported by the education community. It has given learners the best chance of performing to the best of their abilities.

"Together, we have delivered fairness for all learners while maintaining national standards and the credibility of our qualifications in Scotland and beyond – and learners can have confidence in their grades.

"I wish everyone all the very best with their next steps, whatever they are. For those who have a concern about a grade, our free direct appeals service is now open."

Among the achievements being celebrated today, in addition to National Qualifications, are awards in areas including leadership, employability and personal finance, as well as a range of Skills for Work courses, Awards, National Certificates and National Progression Awards. Many of these are seeing increases in uptake.

The results show strong attainment in a number of these qualifications, as learners continue to engage positively with our increasing breadth of qualifications - including in areas such as Mental Health and Wellbeing, Computer Games Development, Sports and Fitness: Team Sports, Employability, Personal Finance, Modern Languages for Life and Work and Sports Development.

Fiona Robertson added: "We are also celebrating real breadth of achievement today, as well as those who receive their certificates throughout the year, including Higher National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications learners and those undertaking Foundation Apprenticeships.

"The wide range of qualifications is supporting young people in reaching their full potential as they progress to college, university, apprenticeships, other learning, training and employment."

2023 in numbers: National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher

Support for learners

Key information