Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LOWER, compar.adj. Sc. educational usage: at a less advanced or difficult level, in reference to 1. a course of secondary education culminating in a State Examination at the end of the third year, as opposed to the Higher (q.v.) course at the end of the fifth, and marked by the award to successful candidates of the Lower (Grade) Leaving Certificate, colloq. the Lowers, later (1902) the Intermediate and finally (1924) the Day School Certificate, a voluntary examination abolished in 1939. Now only hist.; 2. since the abolition of the Intermediate Examination, a paper in certain school subjects in the Senior Leaving Certificate Examination at the end of the fifth (or sixth) year, as opposed to a Higher or more difficult paper in the same subjects, usu. attempted at the option of the candidate, according to his abilities and various academic requirements. This grade has now been abolished (as from 1962) in favour of an ordinary grade paper at the end of the fourth year to assimilate conditions to those pertaining to the English General Certificate of Education. 1. Sc. 1894  Edb. High School Mag. 78:
The extreme difficulty of the Lower Grade Latin Paper.
Sc. 1910  in J. Kerr Sc. Education 406:
The attainments of the candidates (for the Intermediate Certificate) in each subject are tested by examinations at the end of the course, the standard being normally that of the Lower Grade Leaving Certificate.
Abd. 1921  Central School Mag. (1944) 24:
Much is said now-a-days about the heavy hand of examinations, and the end of the year was to see the “Lowers” upon us.
2. Sc. 1924  Sc. Educ. Dept. Circular 62 (7 Feb.) vii.:
While the award of the Leaving Certificate will not be determined by the number of passes obtained, pupils will normally be expected to pass on the Higher standard in at least two subjects and on at least the Lower standard in two others.
Sc. 1946  Secondary Education (H.M.S.O.) 52:
It [Scottish Education Dept.] has wisely adjusted its Leaving Certificate requirements to changing conditions in home and school, and the minimum presentation is now only two Highers and three Lowers.
Sc. 1960  Sc. Educational Jnl. (1 Jan.) 8:
The requirements for presentation, in the case of school candidates, will not differ greatly from the present conditions — apart, of course, from the replacement of the Lower grade in the fifth year by the Ordinary grade in the fourth.

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"Lower adj. compar.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Dec 2018 <>



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