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Serious foul-up on A Level mathematics exam

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by DM, May 27, 2011.

  1. Yes !!!!!
  2. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    Look back to my last but one post. I asked '2012'?, ie a 'query'.
    Another poster said 'Yes!'. Pretty unequivocal, no?
    So I queried again.
    I have now searched back through the thread and, yes, found a post by 'Karvol' that indicates some sarcasm. You will see that my '2012' query, followed immediately by the 'Yes!' came later.
    I'm new to this forum, and really don't need to be told off for a perfectly understandable question.
    I had honestly wondered if there was something I wasn't understanding and that perhaps papers were dated end-year or in some other way that someone not familiar with A-level maths papers would be ignorant of...couldn't work it out.
    Thank you.

  3. DM

    DM New commenter

  4. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Sorry deborah but the sarcam in your post was unnecessary and had you read the whole thread (or at least posts 19 and 20 as well as 18 to which your comment had referred) then you would have known this.
  5. I assumed deborah was querying the original suggestion ... that was why I said yes

    Re the op ... argh, nightmare ... as someone else pointed out D seems to oft be riven with these sorts of errors ... checking procedures clearly need improving

    Luckily it is the one least taken (I love D but it seems I am almost alone) ... so
    an analysis against performance on some questions against predictions should be possible

    In addition .... should schools/candidates be informing Universities NOW, that they have taken the paper?
  6. they were, weren't they - i googled this when you first posted and was amazed to find nothing

  7. The more I hear about this dreadful error the more I think the hysteria
    about missing university places is a little overdone. For the candidates
    who tried this question, if they knew what the topic was about, they
    would have got some credit for what they wrote down. I haven't seen
    the offending question, but it is hard to believe that a candidate, who
    might otherwise complete a correct version, couldn't get at least half
    marks. The lost marks, divided by 6, disappears into the aether.
    No need for a resit.
    The setter should be sacked, there being plenty of people out there
    ready to take his or her place.
  8. DM

    DM New commenter

    True Poley but a significant number of students are quite understandably upset (The Student Room thread has now been viewed over 33,000 times) and the handful of students who do lose their university places and end up shelling out £18,000 in additional tuition fees because of this debacle will, of course, be devastated.
  9. Just extending sympathy to Maths colleagues, - it's happened in AS Business Studies this year also - but AQA this time, - a mathematical question that couldn't be answered and a highly dubious longer question on BUSS2.
    It's a total disgrace.
  10. DM

    DM New commenter

  11. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    BBC are now on the case...
    I still find the comments from folks claiming to have spent 40 mins on one question bizarre...
    Students poor exam techniques are not exam board's problem.
    That the exam board got it wrong so badly does not inspire me... that what they charge for this crappy service is
    There is now so much money involved with university fees that perhaps someone will sue....

  12. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

  13. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    Thanks for the 'Heads up' DM although I think they quoted me and you as me! I am still quite amazed we've been quoted, think carefully before you type everybody.
  14. I suppose the next thing will be students issuing writs if their
    exams are too difficult or even too easy.
    Actually I blame the teachers for not instilling good exam technique.

  15. Textbooks usually have several thousand questions. I'm not excusing the errors in textbooks but the order of magnitude in terms of number of questions is quite different from an examination paper.

    I would certainly agree that examination technique is important and dividing up time in an exam is certainly one of those skills.

    Even for those who quickly moved on from the rogue question might well have been somewhat unsettled by it.

    Are you really suggesting that it's perfectly fine to have errors on an exam paper and that any student who struggled with it then that's just their hard luck?
  16. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Of course not, siddons sara, and this applies to any errors we find in the printed word. I have written to publishers and exam boards on numerous occasions over the years, hoping that in any new edition the errors would be corrected, or for exam questions to be more closely scrutinised before printing. However, an acceptable pedagogical practice whilst teaching in the classroom is to introduce deliberate errors to see if our students are on the ball and spot them, I think.

    A student who is not confident may well became unsettled during an examination, but surely that is what the examination is for, to find out which ones know their maths and which ones are less sure? I trust you are not suggesting we molly-coddle our students? A capable student will spend the allotted time on the rogue question, and then abandon it. If they are really capable by working through the rest of the paper leaving spare time to return to this question, they may well be able spot the error and point it out on their script. Obviously some teachers were able to spot it, are we suggesting that NONE of our students would be able to do so also?

    However, the simplest way to deal with this problem is to credit any reasonable attempt, as I have done over the years in all of my marking. I repeat, I have never been impressed with any student, no matter how able, who does not stick to the most elementary of examination techniques.

    In all of my teaching, I always know that there is someone sitting there who is far more capable, or will be, than myself.
  17. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    I must add, life is tough, and we are all being constantly disadvantaged by the mistakes of others. The trick is to rise above any serious criticism of others, and learn to deal with it. I find that this can be understood by the youngest of children, but there is the danger of encouraging an arrogance in them. However, in this day-and-age of promoting the rights of children, I do not think we would be promoting an impropriety.

    I think this direction of the discussion should now be moved to the Opinion Forum!
  18. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    I have always been rather anxious about discussing potential exam-paper errors with pupils, in case they start looking for errors on questions.
    Ironically#, the questions that are most dangerous when this happens are the "show that" questions. If a pupil has a "show that..." question and their first stab at it gives a different answer then they are likely to reconsider and have another go. If they are attuned to the idea that exam papers are frequently wrong they will make this assumption immediately and move on.
    For example: "show that (x^2 + 5x + 6) / (x^2 + 4x + 4) simplifies to give (x+3)/(x+2) " could easily be misunderstood in this way.

    [# ironic because in this case it was a "show that..." question that caused the problem!]
  19. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    A further thought: ten years ago teachers invigilated exams and were able to read through the exam paper while the students were sitting the exam. As I understand it, nowadays the papers are only released to teachers the following day. If the old system had been in place would it have been feasible for the mistake to be noticed by a teacher-invigilator and a message got to OCR in time to inform candidates that there was an error on the paper?
    [Now that I write it down this does seem unlikely ...]
  20. I agree totally with Nazard in that encouraging students to think there might be mistakes on the paper could lead to all sorts of potential problems, particularly at GCSE level.


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