So far this exam season, we have had many mistakes made by exam boards - the most notorious being the #tybalt mistake which lead to a number of very funny (and sparky) return tweets from students:
@OCRexams I bike my thumb at you! #OCREnglish
#OCREnglish maybe make your students proof read your questions as they understand the characters much better than you lot!
So what is going on? And more importantly, will it affect student grades?
What is going on?
With the new 9-1 syllabus coming out in so many GCSE subjects this year, we have seen a number of exams being off-the-mark in terms of difficulty. Take the GCSE Maths non-calculator paper and the dreaded 'dragon-balls' question. Some of my students came out saying "when have we ever been taught about dragons in maths?!" Boards currently have no benchmarks to test the difficulty this year, and as the content is so widely different I'm not surprised these questions have been blown up as beacons of a badly presented new syllabus. I am convinced however that these new GCSEs will really help students actually enjoy subjects more so please don't write them off yet!
Two changes to the 9-1 syllabuses have happened which I think have caused the un-coincidental multitude of exam mistakes. The new syllabuses now include more complex topics and are now centred around problem solving. Both of these are huge changes to get right and I wonder if the distraction of trying to pitch the difficulty level in the right place has lead to some lax proof-reading in other subjects. Lets hope we've seen the last of the mistakes this year!
Will it affect student grades?
More importantly, will these mistakes affect grades of students. Boards have quoted:
OCR: "We apologise and can assure everyone that no student will be disadvantaged"
I am skeptical that they can differentiate those slightly confused with those who were made to overly question what they have learned and understood. Those making mistakes will fall into two categories; those who didn't question the mistakes in the first place and those for whom the mistakes shook to questioning their beliefs. It will be near impossible to differentiate in the papers themselves and so I do think marks will be affected.
What they will most likely have to do is give everyone the benefit of the doubt and so if you weren't quite sure which side Tybalt was on, you're in luck...this time!