Certificates are being sent to 158,627 students this year, up from 155,893 in 2007. About 20,000 students who signed up for a special scheme were due to receive their grades by e-mail or text message at about 0800 BST.
The overall attainment for Standard Grades rose from 97.6% to 98%, while for Highers pass figures were up from 71.7% to 73.4%.
The English Higher pass rate was up 3.4% from 64.9% in 2007 to 68.3%. Maths Highers pass rates also rose from 70% to 71.6%.
Standard Grade English results remained steady at 98.7%, while Standard Grade Maths improved slightly from 97.4% to 98.7%.
Dr Janet Brown, SQA's chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said: "I am delighted and greatly encouraged to see the increase in numbers of learners achieving our qualifications, and the steady growth in pass rates.
"These results show continuing strong achievements in what is a robust Scottish education system."
Ms Hyslop said the 1.7% attainment increase was satisfactory, saying it was preferable to avoid large variations, either up or down.
She told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "If you compare the Scottish system, for example, to the A levels in England where there's been quite marked increases, I think we can reflect that we have a very robust system, that it's very testing.
"I think a marginal increase of 1.7% shows we have improvements in attainment, but it's at a level that shows we've got a very strong and robust exam system."
A hotline run by Careers Scotland will offer advice on course vacancies at colleges and universities across the UK, work and training, exam re-sits, taking a year out and other post-school options.
Danny Logue, director of careers with Skills Development Scotland, said: "It's vital for students to call the helpline as soon as they can, as colleges and universities make their final selections once the results are out.
"We can discuss the options and look at the different learning pathways and routes that are available to help the caller make an informed career choice that is right for them."
Lines will be open from 0800 BST to 2000 BST on Tuesday and Wednesday and from 1000 BST to 1800 BST on Thursday through until Friday 22 August.
The Careers Scotland helpline - 0808 100 8000 - offers advice on different courses and opportunities available. The SQA candidate helpline is also available on 0845 278 8080.
I got an A for Higher Maths and an A for Higher Art which means I've achieved the conditions for my conditional offer for a place at Glasgow University to study Maths and Computing Science in September! I'm so pleased! Greig Hamilton, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire (Greater Glasgow)
The SQA have just informed me that students with hotmail accounts must wait longer for their exam results. This is an issue which they have had months to correct or inform us of! I have been waiting since 07.50 for the results which I was told would arrive between 08.00 and 09.00 and it is now 09.29 with no results! I know that friends in my year, many of whom have taken the same courses have received theirs when I am left hanging....
Its disgusting! Heather Lennon, Tweedbank, Scottish Borders
I received my text at 08:01 and my email at 08:36. Well done SQA! You got both delivered on time - I did well too. Delighted! Andrew, Glasgow
My sister received her results via SMS this morning, and met her Higher Grade entry requirement for Edinburgh College of Art so she is ecstatic. My brother is waiting for traditional snail mail to find out his important Fifth Year Higher Results. Usi K, Glasgow
I'll give credit where credit is due. 10 past 8 the results came, absolutely no problems what so ever. Opened the e-mail, and it was there, and it was good. Much better then last years fiasco. Well done SQA. Yassen Abbas, Glasgow
The system has changed a lot since I took Highers (in 1979, I regret to admit!), but I'm glad to see the Scottish system continues to produce good, well-rounded education levels. British education abroad is limited only to the English system and, since the Scottish system is unavailable, we opted out and kept the kids in the French school. If the English feel they need to improve their education system, why not look North of the border? NvW, Athens, Greece
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