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In the news - exam errors

Fiona Holmer Fiona Holmer | 17:38 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

“Students hit by more exam errors”  was the headline for a recent BBC report. Over the last few weeks a rash of errors in this summer’s AS-level exam papers have come to light across different subjects.

My daughter’s friend Nick who was doing a multiple choice paper in biology was one of the students who was caught out. He had done plenty of revision but when it came to one question, he was stumped. It was only later, that he discovered why.

The exams regulator Ofqual, has criticised these events saying they are 'unacceptable' . Ofqual stipulated that the exam boards will have to take the errors into consideration, by discounting marks for any questions that were impossible to answer or take into account any attempts made by students to reach the answer.

It is very difficult to compensate the students for the stress caused, as it might well have put candidates off their stride for the remaining part of the paper and meant they did worse overall.

Dr Jim Sinclair, Director of the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) has issued a statement  on June 9th, about the errors in the exam papers. He confirmed that "students and parents should be assured that no one will be disadvantaged as a result of these mistakes. Examiners marking the papers are aware of the incidents and will make careful adjustments so that all students receive the marks they deserve."

Whatever the outcome, one can only hope that in future strenuous efforts are made to check exam questions thoroughly, in order to avoid such mistakes again.

Fiona Holmer works on the BBC Parents Blog.

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