Exam error ‘did not affect grades’

EXAMS authorities have assured Junior Certificate students that an error on one of this year’s business papers did not cost them grades.

Almost 22,750 of the 56,088 students getting their results today sat the higher level business studies exam in June, in which mistakes appeared on a cash-flow forecast question on the second paper. While it caused anxiety for a number of students who were confused by an error in figures provided, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) says it has not resulted in any candidates being adversely affected.

“The marking scheme was revised to facilitate the range of approaches to the question and the answers provided by candidates. All examiners for this exam were informed of the error and the agreed procedure for managing the marking of this question,” a SEC spokesperson said.

A subsequent analysis of the papers found that most students completed the required number of questions and generally performed very well on the question with the error.

More than 83% of higher level business studies students will find out today they got an A, B or C, up from 80.8% last year and also higher than the 82.2% honours rate in 2008.

There are eight students this year with 12 As in higher level subjects and a further 98 with 11 As, both slightly fewer than a year ago. But the numbers with fewer As are all higher than in 2009, with those getting five up from 932 to 1,061 and the 4,014 who have two higher level As being 230 more than last year.

The SEC also reports that 1,135 people who returned to education are among this year’s Junior Certificate group. This is down from more than 1,200 in each of the last three years and they make up about 2% of total students who took the exams three months ago, which is just 1% higher than in 2009.

Commission chairman Richard Langford congratulated all students, as well as their parents and teachers, and said he hopes they will continue with their studies.

While the celebrations will begin at schools from this morning, parents were urged by the Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative to help their children find healthy ways to mark the occasion as an alternative to drinking.

“We know peer pressure has a huge impact on the decisions made by young people concerning drugs and alcohol. But they are as influenced by what their parents do and say in relation to alcohol as they are by their peers,” said initiative co-ordinator John Taaffe.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) president Jack Keane said one of the great successes of the Junior Certificate is its all-encompassing nature, evidenced by growing numbers of non-traditional students taking the exam, including students with special educational needs and newcomer students.

“We should be particularly proud of these students and congratulate their schools which, despite being badly under-resourced, work hard to provide educational opportunities to a diverse cohort of students,” he said.


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