Exam chiefs rule out repeat of mistakes

ORGANISERS of the Junior and Leaving certificate exams being taken by more than 116,000 students from this morning are confident there will be no repeat of last year’s controversial rescheduling of a paper handed out by mistake.

With a range of measures introduced to reduce the risk of the wrong exam being given out by any of the 4,700 people supervising exam centres, State Examinations Commission (SEC) chairman Richard Langford said the intention is to reduce the likelihood of any repeat.

“The examinations are a matter of public interest, and the events surrounding the re-scheduling of Leaving Certificate English Paper 2 last year show how any disruption to the examination schedule can impact on all those involved,” he said.

“We have looked carefully at what happened last year and we have put in place a series of measures so the 2010 examinations will proceed as scheduled,” Mr Langford said.

As well as instructions to exam superintendents to notify the SEC immediately if anything untoward happens, new clearer labelling has been put on parcels in which question papers for each individual exam session are delivered to schools.

The SEC has also made some timetable changes to ensure no subject with two written exams will be held with both papers in morning or afternoon sessions.

But changes remain in place since last year to ensure Leaving Certificate students are not sitting both English papers in the one day, for example, following complaints of too many writing-intensive subjects during the first few days.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) president Joe Moran said students should follow a balanced routine during the exam timetable, which continues until June 25, when the final Leaving Certificate exams will be taken.

“A sensible routine should include good food, enough sleep and regular exercise rather than a gruelling routine of study, exam, study, exam. I advise my students to avoid distractions, such as post-exam analysis or obsessing about what might or might not come up,” said Mr Moran, a teacher at Presentation Secondary School in Ballingarry, Co Tipperary.

To coincide with the start of the stressful exam period, a social networking application called Mates Mood has been set up by Rehab’s mental health promotion project HeadsUp, whose text service has received messages from 11,300 people in almost three years.

Users of the service on Facebook can show their mood based on a choice of eight ranging from ‘miserable’ to ‘awesome’.

“People can illustrate how they are feeling without having to say anything, prompting friends to check in with them, particularly if they are feeling down,” said manager Colette Ryan.

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