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Music GCSE's lesson for life

Martin Rosenbaum | 16:22 UK time, Wednesday, 20 August 2008

GCSE results are out tomorrow, and a particularly interesting exam will be the music one set by the OCR board. Students who took this back in May were either delighted or disturbed to discover that the answers to some of the questions in one paper were given away in the copyright acknowledgments at the end.

For example, the examinees had to listen to a piece of music and identify the composer, a task made somewhat easier by the fact that the acknowledgment attributed it to Handel.

OCR's blunder could have helped candidates gain nine marks, according to an analysis of the paper prepared for Ofqual, the exams regulator in England. This was obtained from Ofqual by the BBC following a freedom of information request.

However Ofqual refused to reveal more detailed documentation partly because, they said, candidates 'could try to use the information contained within it to anticipate or speculate how the incident would affect the way in which their papers were marked' and this would be 'a wholly undesirable situation leading to unnecessary worry and confusion'.

Still the candidates who took this paper have learnt an important lesson for life which hopefully will stay with them long after they have forgotten whatever they once knew about Philip Glass and minimalism: Always read the small print.


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