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Maths AS exam 'unfortunate error' in last weeks exam

(45 Posts)
mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 10:03:17

DS1 sat the exam last week and afterwards said that there was a question that no one could do. We've now seen this link:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13627415
Seemingly there was an error on the paper and they are considering what to do.
Our concern is DS needs to get an A to get his place at Uni as do several of his peers. Anyone else affected by this or any experience of something like this happening previously?

My thinking is it is not just about the 8 marks for that question. DS says quite a few of them spent a lot longer on that question attempting to do it and therefore a lot less time on other questions. How on earth do they deal with this?

StealthPolarBear Sat 04-Jun-11 10:05:22

oh no sad No advice sorry but hope they do something. As you say it's not just about making up the marks on that question, it's about the impact on the students.

StealthPolarBear Sat 04-Jun-11 10:05:55

link here

gazzalw Sat 04-Jun-11 10:07:57

I think it's terrible - it's the type of thing that would put virtually all candidates off their stroke. The very clever ones would probably be totally thrown by finding something impossible and the not-so-clever ones would equally be put off if it was the first question -not so sure if it was the last question....but really terrible that it managed to slip through onto the exam paper. It is the type of error which could make/break candidates' grades and therefore university choices etc...
They should all get the chance to resit or by default be given the full marks for that particular question.

Marlinspike Sat 04-Jun-11 10:10:47

Yes, my DS took the same paper - like the OP, he needs an A or A*, and he also spent longer on that question.

mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 10:11:59

stealth thanks for link, I'm rubbish at doing them blush

gazzalw like you say, DS and a lot of his friends spent ages trying to answer it. I'm guessing there was a lot of scratching of heads as they simply couldn't work out why they didn't understand it.
Think that particular question was mid-way through the paper and definitely distracted a few of them for the rest of the exam.

Its going to be a very long wait until results day sad

IslaValargeone Sat 04-Jun-11 10:14:30

I heard there was also an error in the Biology paper too?

mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 10:17:15

shock for gods sake, as if these kids aren't already under enough pressure this year due to the higher numbers of students applying to uni and therefore the pressure on to get higher grades angry

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 10:59:43

Definitely the real issue is about being thrown in the exam or spending far too long trying to puzzle that question. I don't see that the paper is markable.

I'd expect the upshot to be very, very low grade boundaries with all students doing at least as well as their predictions and probably better.

If there did turn out to be a problem with that mark in terms of university entrance, then surely the chances are that the university will treat the situation as exceptional and waive the condition?

mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 11:04:42

I was wondering that Yellowstone DCs first choice Uni did say that even if he didn't get the AAA he needs he should contact them to discuss. If he doesn't get an A in the maths then hopefully they will take into account this cock up by the examining board? <counts the days until 18th August!>

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 11:17:19

mumoverseas I honestly can't imagine there being a problem with a university place on the basis of this one exam, it's such an unusual situation. It's just unpleasant for the students to have it hanging over their head. If no formal announcement is made to resolve the situation before Aug 18th, I'd see that my DC got to school really early that morning and shot off to the phone with the Head of Sixth to sort it out with the uni. Any place lost could result in legal action against the exam board surely, with so much at stake. The exam board will do everything to avoid that I'm sure. They must deplore the situation at least as much as everyone else.

mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 11:19:22

oh I do hope you are right yellowstone thank you, you have calmed me down somewhat. Could be an interesting start to DS's potential career as a barrister wink

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jun-11 11:30:05

isla
I hadn't heard that. Which Biology?

op
I'm sure it will have an overall effect on grade boundaries, so hopefully your DS won't suffer for it. Really annoying nevertheless.

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 11:35:47

Actually mumoverseas if I were your DS I'd be inclined to get him to send a short e-mail now to the tutor in charge of admissions for the particular department his firm offer is from, just expressing concern. Then it's flagged up ahead of time. I'd do it now while the tutors are all still around. Sending it to the main admissions centre might mean it gets lost in the noise.

The exam didn't affect any of my DC but it did affect lots of students at their school.

mumoverseas Sat 04-Jun-11 11:39:32

gosh yellowstone you really are full of good ideas. Thank you grin

Icoulddoitbetter Sat 04-Jun-11 11:45:09

There was someone discussing the biology paper cock up on the radio yesterday. They'd been told that the exam board had said they were only going to discount that particular question, and had not agreed to any other concession regarding how much time students had spent on that question, or the effect on their confidence etc. Pretty crap actually.

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jun-11 11:46:51

Any idea which board Icoulddoitbetter?

Sorry for hijack smile

KatieMiddleton Sat 04-Jun-11 11:52:34

I think all exam grade boundaries are adjusted to reflect expected results? eg 38% of students predicted A grades, 25% B grades, 37% C grades so the board look at the actual marks for the exam and adjust the grade boundaries so the lowest mark for the top 38% of actual grades (say 65/120 marks) becomes the grade boundary for an A and do this for the rest of the grades. I'm simplifying hugely but the grade boundaries are modified.

There would only be a problem if one group were more significantly disadvantaged (which I doubt in this scenario) or the grade modification didn't happen. Which it will because it's in the exam board's interest to have people getting grades expected of them or schools will choose another board.

So I wouldn't worry. When it's a problem that effects everyone it usually gets sorted out without any intervention as the process is designed to compensate.

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jun-11 11:55:18

I suppose it's just that some students could have been thrown more off their stride than others. But then that's the situation in exams anyway.

Tortington Sat 04-Jun-11 11:59:29

one question. one.

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 12:29:21

cuntardo the one question carried over 10% of the marks for the paper. It's a huge error on the part of the exam board and incredibly unfair on the students because individual reactions to finding a question like that will vary enormously: some will labour on the problem for far too long trying to crack it, some will ignore it as simply too hard to warrant any time. The least students can expect in an exam is that the exam board has set an accurate paper.And if a university offer did fall through on account of a grade, that's serious stuff.

coccyx Sat 04-Jun-11 12:33:31

Never knew the grade boundaries were so movable. Does that mean one year could be a B and then next year an A for same percentage

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 12:36:12

Yes it does mean that. Last year there was a big fuss because too many students achieved the A* mark, far more than had been expected. So the mark required was raised to push some students back into the A zone.

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jun-11 12:41:51

It's true Yellowstone - but then again different students handle exams in different ways anyway, and use the time as they see fit. It is dreadful and absolutely should not have happened, but it did happen to everyone taking it. Sadly it could have disadvantaged the more able, as they may not understand the concept of not 'getting' a question, whereas others (DD!!) would think 'another hard one, let's move on'.

Yellowstone Sat 04-Jun-11 12:52:07

I agree ajandjjmum. I'd expect it to hit the top students disproportionately too. And if they need a particular mark in their maths to apply to the top places like Warwick next year, then it gets even worse. It's complicated for sure.

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