afterdark - I still feel like you're missing the point that if this question represents 11% of an exam in which you need to get 90% then spending the normal amount of time on it *plus* all of your 'checking through' time is not - as you keep calling it - "poor exam technique." The student who has never not been able to answer a question in previous papers would be quite thrown by the situation. In addition, those aiming for a C might have this topic as one they can handle - it might represent more like 15-20% of the marks they are hoping to pick up on this paper. Of course if they spent an hour on the question and didn't answer other questions that would be silly, but I don't think that's what these students are arguing on the whole - they're saying that they spent all their checking through time on the question as well as the normal time they'd have spent on it - and so the impact on their raw mark is also in working errors / small mistakes that they would normally have picked up in checking. Do you really think that it was irrational to keep working on the only question they'd not answered - given that it was worth 11%? If the question *wasn't* flawed and your most able students emerged from the exam saying they'd given up on it, what would your reaction have been? There will be students who could have got 95%+ in the exam if the question was simply not there... but won't because they didn't have the opportunity to check their work. Unless we don't just discount the faulty question, but also add a few additional marks on for the hassle. But that's flawed because these students are in competition with others who won't have those marks added on. Timed exams bear no relation to the real world. We only inflict them on students because we need a way of differentiating them, - and while they're still not totally accurate in measuring ability, timed exams at least remove most of the guess work from the measuring process. Now we're in a situation where the exam boards are guessing a proportion of the exam mark (for some students only) - and those students are, justifiably in my opinion, arguing that they would like an opportunity to not be subjected to the exam board's guess work, given the huge impact it has on their future.