Over 119,000 Ordinary Level and 51,291 Advanced Level secondary school candidates began their national examinations on Tuesday.
This represents an increase of 20,034 and 5,267 senior three and senior six candidates respectively, from last year.
This comes after over 200,000 candidates completed their primary leaving examinations last week.
These candidates are the second cohort to sit national exams under the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) that came into force in 2015.
Speaking to The New Times, the Director-General of Rwanda Education Board (REB), Irénée Ndayambaje, said that by Monday evening, all preparations had been completed to ensure the exercise is as smooth as possible.
"We did what we were required to do; setting the exams, training the invigilators, preparing examination centres, and the transportation of the exams to all locations. We now look forward to cooperation of the districts and security organs."
O'Level (Senior Three) exams will be conducted at 489 centres, up from 469 last year, while A'Level exams will be held at 389 centres, down from 395 last academic year.
There are 2117 private candidates (A'Level) compared to 1376 last year.
Ndayambaje explained that since the examinations wouldn't be the candidates' first national papers, they should be confident. This year all secondary school students sat national papers in the third term.
"The students should be confident enough. We believe they have been taught and have done revision. They should know that, in a way, these exams will determine their future careers," he said.
He further explained that the marks the students get will determine the schools they will go to, and the courses they will take - some in A' Level, others in tertiary institutions.
Speaking about the new curriculum, Ndayambaje said the exams will also offer them an opportunity to get feedback on how effective the new curriculum is.
"When we had the exam last year, we saw and learned some things. This, too, will help us know what is needed, and where we should put more effort."
The exams are scheduled to last through November 19.