Advanced Highers a Scots success story

August 13, 2004

Qualifications officials were this week celebrating record entries and rising pass rates in the exam designed to be Scotland's main route for high-fliers into university.

Advanced Highers, which replaced the Certificate of Sixth Year Studies in 2000, this year attracted a record 17,184 candidates, with a 73.6 per cent pass rate. There were typically between 12,000 and 13,000 entries for CSYS.

There were 165,459 entries for Highers this year, the standard higher education entrance requirement, with a pass rate of 70.7 per cent, up by more than 1 per cent on last year.

Anton Colella, SQA chief executive, said that it was pleasing to see standards being maintained at both levels and praised the "success story" of Advanced Highers.

"We're now seeing a drive within schools to make the sixth year as meaningful as possible. We would like to see even more of an increase in the uptake of Advanced Highers because we think it is a high-value qualification and a very positive and challenging preparation for university," he said.

Glasgow pupil Andrew McCall emerged as a star performer when the Scottish Qualifications Authority announced the examination results.

He was delighted to have achieved A pass Advanced Highers - the equivalent of A levels - in computing and maths, and also an A pass Higher in craft and design.

Mr McCall already acquired university entrance qualifications last year, when he was 16 years old: five Highers, with A passes in chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics and a C pass in English.

He was a pupil at Castlemilk High School in one of Glasgow's most deprived areas and was also recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

"I wasn't sure about university. I thought another year at school would give me more experience," he said. "I hadn't decided on a course and hadn't researched things."

His Advanced Higher results could give him direct entry into the second year, but he has opted to go into the first year of an MEng degree in computer and electrical systems at Strathclyde University.

"I was thinking about (direct entry) but decided to stay on for the first year. I'm pretty certain I'll learn new things and I didn't want to miss that," he said.

As a male, Mr McCall is in the minority among SQA candidates. Fifty-five per cent of Higher candidates and 53 per cent of Advanced Higher candidates were female.

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