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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
English Higher pass rate falls again
exam room
Fewer students have passed the Higher English exam in Scotland again this year.

The official results will be published next month - but it is known that the pass rate has fallen, even though the mark needed to pass the exam was lowered.

That was done because of changes in the assessment system, with a view to ensuring the exam's difficulty was maintained.

This is the second year in a row that the pass rate has fallen. Last year it was 68% after appeals.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said the pass mark had been lowered from last year's level of 48%.

It denied it was as low as 39%, but declined to say what the level was.


"Knowing what that is, we can take a professional opinion on what the pass rate will be and we have every expectation it will also be lower than last year's 68%," a spokesman said.

He said the final figure was not fixed yet and would be revealed to candidates first.

But it is expected to be about 62% before appeals. The results are due out on 12 August.

An SQA spokesman said the pass mark had been set by examiners who assessed the difficulty of this year's papers and pupils' work during the course of the year.

He said the reason for that was so that a pass this year was "as valid as a pass last year and a pass next year".

The big change to the English exam this year was to make it purely externally assessed.

Last year there had been a speaking and listening test carried out within schools, plus an essay-writing or "folio" test.

The change had been made "by common consent" as part of a national review group, the SQA spokesman said.

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