Monday, June 30, 2008

Student earns marks for swear word on GCSE exam

Markers award students for writing obscenities on GCSE papers. Write ‘f*** off’ on a GCSE paper and you’ll get 7.5%. Add an exclamation mark and it’ll go up to 11% (link via
One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully. His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way. He told trainee examiners recently to adhere strictly to the mark scheme, to the extent that pupils who wrote only expletives on their papers should be awarded points. Mr Buckroyd, chief examiner of English for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), an examination board, said that he had given the pupil two marks, out of a possible 27, for the expletive.
And you may now have questions about the AQA, "the UK's leading Awarding Body for General Qualifications" (seriously?). According to their website, this is what the AQA do: The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) is the largest of the three English exam boards. AQA has a leading reputation for promoting education for the public benefit and draws on long experience of setting and marking public exams such as GCSEs, A-levels and other qualifications. We also offer first class support for teachers and learners. and their "values": AQA strives to be the provider of choice by offering qualifications that have high educational value, are valid, reliable and fair and are affordable and manageable for schools and colleges. We also aim to set and maintain appropriate standards which carry credibility. I am not impressed. I find this news absolutely outrageous! It's disgraceful for the AQA to admit this is how they set their standards for exams in English. What kind of message is this sending to the students? What are your thoughts about this?

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