Commission to trial scanned exam papers over original answer books

The use of scanned exam papers instead of the original answer books is being trialled as part of this year’s State exams which begin at schools and other centres this morning. Around 25,000 Junior Certificate students will have scanned copies of their higher level French exams marked using online software.

The papers completed by students during 2.5-hour exam being taken next Wednesday morning will be scanned by the State Examinations Commission. It will then share the digital versions with examiners around the country, to be marked on their own computers.

The move to use practices already adopted in Northern Ireland, Britain, and elsewhere is being piloted as part of the commission’s efforts to make greater use of technology in delivery of exams.

“The commission is satisfied from international research into the technology and the result of a pre-pilot trial conducted by the commission in 2014 that online marking is as accurate and reliable as traditional marking and provides enhanced standards of marking assurance and control,” said a spokesman.

After the exams were marked two years ago, 2,500 higher-level Junior Certificate maths and French scripts were re-marked at the commission and at home by 30 senior examiners in the two subjects. The procedure is seen as a way to increase efficiency, with a focus on the reformed Junior Cycle in which final written exams will be set for the first time in English from next year.

There is potential to save money on postage of written exam papers to supervising examiners, and also in the money paid for examiners to bring them to post offices and have them sent back during the marking process.

The biggest distance exams are travelling this year is to Malta, where dozens of students from Libya will sit papers in the Leaving Certificate.

The political and security situation in Libya has seen students from the International School of the Martyrs in Tripoli being offered the option to take the exams in Malta instead since 2012. While 23 male and 15 female students are entered with the commission this year, it is not certain yet how many will travel to Malta this week.


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