The pass rate for Higher English has jumped by five percentage points, according to figures released as pupils across Scotland receive their results.
Tope Adeloye (right) is congratulated by her father
The results issued by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) on Tuesday showed a point rise in the overall Higher pass rate to 70.7%.
The percentage of pupils gaining Standard Grades also rose slightly.
The Higher English pass rate of 64% almost brought the subject back to its 2002 level after 2003's dip to 59.2%.
Teachers and parents were taken aback last year when the proportion of candidates passing Higher English fell by 5.5 points.
The Higher maths pass rate rose by a point to 67.8% this year.
The percentage of pupils who received a Standard Grade in grades one to six rose by 0.4 to 97.2%.
The pass rate is broadly up in the new Access, Intermediate and Advanced Higher exams, although the number of candidates remains low.
Commenting on pass rates, Education Minister Peter Peacock said: "It's marginally improving. It's moving in the right direction. We set tough standards for our exams.
"You don't give exams away, you have got to earn these results and that means you have got to see steady gradual improvement. It's the right way to be moving."
SQA chief executive Anton Colella said: "I'm pleased to offer congratulations to this year's candidates on their achievements and to say thank you to all those who have supported them - teachers, lecturers, family and friends alike.
"These results show that more candidates are achieving more in a stable and reliable system, and that is all good news for Scotland."
Tope Adeloye, from Edinburgh, got the five A grades she needed to enter university and pursue a medical career.
The Balerno Community High School pupil said she was "ecstatic" with her grades.
"I just couldn't believe it. I was nervous picking up the letter. I'm just shocked," she added.
Certificates were being delivered to 142,082 candidates on Tuesday, a rise of 2,026 from last year.
The SQA has raised fears that it may be inundated with calls from concerned pupils if the postal service's move to single deliveries means that envelopes do not arrive as early as expected.
Officials are asking people to be patient, not to panic and to wait for the post to arrive.
The Careers Scotland exam results helpline is available to advise pupils across the country on different colleges, university courses and opportunities. It can be contacted by calling 0808 100 8000.