Leading exam boards have come under fire from parents and the head of England’s exam regulator after thousands of pupils were tested on subjects they were told had been excluded from exams trials.
The AQA apologized to A-level law students on Friday for the ‘confusion and stress’ they caused after a 30-point nuisance question was included in the paper despite not did not appear in the list of topics that students were asked to review.
The examination board had told pupils that the “higher priced questions” would draw from the listed topics given to pupils before their exam.
The AQA also apologized last week after its standalone GCSE Physics article included a nine-point question on a topic that had been excluded in advance information.
The jury ended up awarding full marks to all candidates for the question about energy transfers and circuits in the physics paper after a social media backlash from angry students.
Students were given subject notice this year to help ease the impact of the pandemic after two years of chaos and exam cancellations.
“It made the whole exam quite painful for many”
A parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said her daughter took the physics paper in Gloucestershire and left the assessment “shattered” by the surprise question.
They told the Telegraph: “A lot of pupils saw it and freaked out, and that could no doubt have affected the way they behaved in the rest of the newspaper.
“This cohort has just gone through two years of severely disrupted education and was assured that some things wouldn’t be on the exam, so to put it next is pretty appalling.
“I was told that this made the exam quite painful for many, and it would make them doubt the upcoming assignments as well.”
They added that it did not appear to be an isolated incident, as other parents had reported similar issues.
“Real bumps on this road”
Another exam board, Edexcel, was also forced to apologize for an error in its GCSE geography paper which labeled Gabon as the Democratic Republic of Congo on a map of Africa.
Jo Saxton, Ofqual’s chief regulator, told the Confederation of Schools Trusts’ annual conference on Friday that ‘the support scheme in place for students for this year’s summer series’ had had ‘real bumps’ on this road”.
“I fully understand the distress caused by errors in advance information and exam papers,” she said.
Ms Saxton added that students had “welcomed” the exam aids and formula sheets, which she said had “taken the stress off their shoulders”.
But she noted, “They love the idea of prior information, but the reality is that they’ve found browsing through it in many cases just another thing to think about.”
“We didn’t want to cause any confusion or stress”
A spokesperson for the AQA said: ‘One of the purposes of advance information is that it should not restrict teaching and learning, so we could not list all the topics on the paper. of examination.
“Although we have advised students to review all topics and include the subject of one of the two 30-point questions, we appreciate that many students expect us to include the subject of both questions – particularly in light of the advice we gave before publishing the advance information.
“We didn’t mean to cause any confusion or stress for the students and we’re sorry we did. The fairest way to approach this is for us to look at how the students behaved on this paper after having it noted, and we will take all necessary measures to protect them.”