AS 60,000 candidates started the 2003 exam diet with Standard grade English on Tuesday, the Scottish Qualifications Authority claims it has never been better prepared, "generally speaking".
Launching the exam season at St John's High in Dundee, the SQA pointed to the fact that all the required markers, nearly 9,000, had been recruited and are in place. This is only the second time the recruitment process has been completed before exams have started, last year being the first.
"The support we have received from markers this year has been outstanding," David Fraser, the authority's chief executive, said during his visit to Dundee. "The same is true for all 20,000-plus appointees who help us deliver the exams."
Another milestone is agreed arrangements for 10,000 candidates with special needs, including full sign language for the deaf being used for the first time.
This year's exams also feature a number of innovations which follow consultations with senior pupils. A new pupil-friendly booklet, Your Exams 2003, has been sent to all schools and other exam centres, along with posters.
There is also a candidate's card with exam entry number and date of birth, which is essential information for exam papers.
The final batch of exams will be sat on Friday, June 13, and results will be delivered to candidates on August 12.
School's-eye view of the SQA's performance, ScotlandPlus 2-3