Wrong! ‘Exam’ pass rate climbs by 4%

The pass rate for pupils sitting exams in Scotland has dropped from the levels seen in the two years when they were affected by Covid pandemic measures.

At Higher level, the number of pupils getting an A to C pass was 78.9%, down from 87.3% last year.

This was higher than the rate of 74.8% in 2019, the last year in which formal exams were sat across the country.


Even a complete eejit knows you cannot compare exam pass rates with a different assessment strategy not involving formal exams.

So, the statistically meaningful fact here is the 4.1% increase in the pass rate from 2019 to 2022.

Only in the second-last paragraph do we read:

It also makes if difficult to compare grades year-on-year

Difficult? Duuh!

If BBC Scotland wasn’t so determined to get a bad headline, they’d have a wee go at professional journalism.


18 thoughts on “Wrong! ‘Exam’ pass rate climbs by 4%

  1. It is difficult to compare BBCScotlandshire with grown-up News organisations as they employ journalists who identify newsworthy stories whereas BBCScotlandshire employs people who get their ”news” from press releases from Sarwar and DRoss !

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh do be fair, they cast far and wide for negative stories about Scotland, even ensuring it gets top billing on the BBC’s UK site – Such as their ludicrous “Scottish exam pass rate drops from pandemic high” John neatly tore to ribbons earlier….
      Never let it be said HMS James Cook let no turn be unstoned…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, good ole “we’ve seen the emails FM” Cook.
      Particularly amusing was this distortion neatly attributed to Leanne McGuire, thence playing the “we’ve seen the emails” ploy again –
      “I can’t see how they’re going to be able to close the attainment gap without putting something like that in place”.

      Impartial ? Obviously, as proclaimed on R4 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From UCAS – the UK university entrance service (which has no political skin in the Scottish political ‘game’) concluded this about the Scottish examination results and associated university entrance statistics today (9 August 2022 @ 09:30)

    Source https://www.ucas.com/corporate/news-and-key-documents/news/record-proportion-scottish-students-accepted-their-first-choice-university

    ‘Following the return to examinations this year, A RECORD 60.1% OF SCOTTISH STUDENTS GAINED A PLACE AT THEIR FIRM (sic) CHOICE UNIVERSITY, up from the pre-pandemic level of 57.5% in 2019. This figure will rise as more confirmation decisions are made over the coming days. (my emphasis)

    ‘Today has also seen CONTINUED SUCCESS IN WIDENING ACCESS, with a significant closing of the gender progression gap for young people in Scotland (19 and under). In 2019, 50% more females progressed to higher education than males. Today that has narrowed to 39% (from 47% last year).

    ‘Participation of young students from the most disadvantaged areas (SIMD40) is reassuringly UP FROM PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS, with 23.9% of all acceptances from SIMD40 areas compared to 23.4 last year and 22.4% in 2019, reaffirming the continued support to widen access in Scotland.

    ‘Other key points from today’s release include:
    – The overall number of Scottish students accepted is 30,490, UP FROM 28,750 IN 2019.

    – Of those accepted, 29,630 will be studying in Scotland – AN INCREASE OF 1,740 ON 2019.

    – The number of students accepted on to NURSING COURSES is 2,960 – UP BY 450 COMPARED TO 2019.’

    And as UCAS consistently makes clear in its publications:

    (i) in addition to the statistics above, many young students in Scotland based on exam results today will enter higher education courses via Scotland’s colleges – with the possibility of progress later to a university (‘articulation’); and

    (ii) those young students who gain entry to a Scottish university based on their results today will have achieved entry to a high or medium ‘tariff’ course/institution. Scotland’s university sector does NOT have the very long tail of ‘low tariff’ institutions – easier to gain entry to – that characterises the university sector in England.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is a while since the media and the unionists used the ‘dumbing down’ assertion (aka ‘lie’). Perhaps they will resurrect it for the UCAS figures.


  3. Just heard the Reporting Scotland coverage of the exam results. Oh dear! Contrived negative framing on pass rates information – repeated two or three times. Then amplifying the ‘Scottish Government is failing young people’ claims of opposition politicians – contrary to UCAS’ analysis (see above).

    The public service broadcaster is gaslighting its viewers in Scotland ….. once again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. James Cook’s piece on the BBC Network Evening News was a shocker. It started off with the pass rate figures, but he really went tonto about his views on the “Attainment Gap”.

      Does he actually really understand that he is not an opposition politician and that if he stuck to his “Day Job” then the reputation of BBC Scotland might be less dire.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I read it in a google search but the article was behind a pay wall.

    I see The Scotsman has reported it, in a roundabout way. 😉


    “The 2022 exam results statistics revealed the percentage point difference between A-C attainment in least and most deprived areas at Higher level has increased to 15 per cent this year.

    Under teacher-marked assessments in 2021, this stood at 7.8 per cent while in 2019, the last time there were national external exams, it was 16.9 per cent.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Last month saw a report he presented, which ended with a comment about the next referendum. He suggested people would base their decision on the economy. Is there anyone who is already Yes that would change their vote to No because of the economy? I can imagine many No voters switching to Yes because of the economy. The UK is set to enter a recession when the next set of GDP figure’s are released and will stay there until the end of 2024.


  6. The House of Commons Library has published a briefing on school examinations across the UK (9 August 2022): ‘Coronavirus: GCSEs, A Levels and equivalents in 2022’

    See https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9045/

    It explains that in England: ‘2022 grades will be more generous than pre-pandemic ones, but ‘grade inflation’ is being rolled back.

    ‘In 2020 and 2021 grades awarded via teacher and lecturer assessment were significantly higher, overall, than they had been in 2019.

    ‘For England, regulator Ofqual has announced that GRADING IN 2022 WILL AGAIN BE MORE GENEROUS THAN IT WAS PRE-PANDEMIC, but that grades are EXPECTED TO FALL AT A MID-POINT between those in 2019 and 2021. In future, the plan is for grades to revert to a more normal distribution. As such, 2022 has been described as a ‘transition year’. ‘ (my emphasis)

    There are other changes: ‘In England, there are more changes to exams in 2022, including advance information on exam topics, greater choice of topics in some subjects, and formula and equation sheets for some subjects with a maths component.’

    And it confirms: ‘Similar changes to grade boundaries and the form and content of exams APPLY ACROSS THE UK.’

    On Scotland specifically, the briefing states: ‘There were a number of modifications to the form and content of assessments in summer 2022, which varied by subject but included, for example, increased choice within the assessment; removal of topics; or altering elements of exams or coursework.

    And adds: ‘… the grade boundaries and system of awarding is different in 2022, from the two preceding years which MAKES YEAR-ON-YEAR COMPARISONS PROBLEMATIC – the drop in the proportion of entries graded A to C was expected, owing to the DECISION TO SET GRADE BOUNDARIES AT AN INTERMEDIATE POINT BETWEEN PRE-PANDEMIC, AND IN 2021 – ie, to begin ‘washing out’ grade inflation.

    ‘In 2022: 78.9% of Highers were graded A to C. In 2019, the last year in which exams took place as normal pre-pandemic, 74.8% of Highers received these grades. In 2021, when there were no exams and teachers and lecturers graded pupils, and grading was overall more ‘generous’, 87.3% of highers were at grades A to C.

    ‘80.8% of National 5s were at grades A to C. In 2019, the figure was 78.2%, and in 2021, it was 85.8%.’

    So anyone framing the 2022 results in a negative way by comparison with teacher-assessed results during the pandemic is being duplicitous. As the House of Commons Library makes clear – and it is so obvious anyway – such comparisons are to say the least ‘problematic’!

    Liked by 2 people

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