A shake-up of Scottish education mean pupils will spend less time being tested, Education Secretary John Swinney has said.
He said despite longer exams in some situations there will be a “balance” between coursework and assessment.
The Scottish Government is implementing various education reforms designed to address the attainment gap and lift standards overall.
These include targeted funding for deprived areas, direct cash for headteachers, and new educational regions to share best practice among schools.
New national standardised assessments are also being introduced from August.
Mr Swinney told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “What we’ll see as a consequence of the changes that I’ve introduced is that young people will spend less time on assessment and more time on learning, and that’s the way it should be in my view.
“And yes, in some circumstances, exams have been extended but the balance between exams and coursework has been maintained.
“So that young people, in what they do during the year, in all subjects except for maths, will be able to amass that portfolio of evidence and expertise which is fundamental to Curriculum for Excellence, to ensure that they deliver the strong qualifications to which they are entitled.”
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “John Swinney’s attempt to solve one problem has only created another even bigger mess.
“As teachers are already warning, pupils returning to secondary school next week are facing a shambles of the SNP’s creation - a rushed change to assessment, pushed through with hardly any consultation, which now risks confusing everybody.
“John Swinney was explicitly warned about the impact of these plans when he announced them but he decided to push them through in an attempt to appease the unions. Pupils and teachers are now going to pay the price.”
Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesman, said: “It’s hard to believe the government is reducing testing when they are in fact introducing standardised assessments from the age of six upwards.
“There is simply no evidence that this obsession with testing will improve children’s education and the opposite is the case.
“Countries which do not follow the model the SNP has chosen consistently perform better and produce happier, healthier children than those tested incessantly throughout their time in education.”