Higher maths exam pass mark ‘lowered to 33.8%’

PUPILS sitting the new Higher maths exam had the pass mark lowered to 33.8 per cent, it has emerged.

Sarah Ramsay, Rosie Wilson, Lewis Watson, Charlie MacKay and Ida Ho of Craigmount High School celebrate their marks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Data released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) revealed the percentage required to achieve a C grade at the new Higher maths was almost 10 per cent lower than the 43 per cent required to pass the old version this year

The disparity emerged when the SQA published the grade boundaries for the exams sat by thousands of Scottish pupils this year.

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The challenging nature of the new maths paper led to more than 4,000 pupils signing an online petition to complain it was too difficult and was structured in a different way than the old exam.

Acting Scottish Labour Leader and Shadow Education Secretary Iain Gray has called for a full review of the problems with the Higher maths exam to prevent the same issues being repeated next year. 

Mr Gray said: “The pupils who raised concerns about the difficulty of the new Higher maths exam have been vindicated. It’s true that pass marks are adjusted each year, but it’s extraordinary to see this drop to just 33.8 per cent. The Highers are the gold standard of Scottish education and this is a big concern.

 “The SNP have spent the last few days crowing that there was no problem with the maths exam only for their own exams authority to say today that it was too hard.

 “Pupils sitting the Higher maths exam next year shouldn’t have to go through what young people did last May. We need a full review by the SNP Government into the problems with the new Higher maths exam.”

 A SQA spokesman said that after the papers were marked it was found that the new maths exam was more demanding than expected. That saw the grade boundary reduced to reflect the more demanding paper.