Tuesday 16 January 2018

Exam body admits to further errors on Irish paper

Grainne McPhilomy, Kiara McDonald, Aimee Lalor and Lian McDonald from Presentation Convent Secondary School in Kilkenny city after the Leaving Cert biology paper
Grainne McPhilomy, Kiara McDonald, Aimee Lalor and Lian McDonald from Presentation Convent Secondary School in Kilkenny city after the Leaving Cert biology paper

Katherine Donnelly and Louise Hogan

Another exams controversy has blown up, this time over grammatical errors on the Leaving Certificate Irish second papers.

As more mistakes on Leaving Cert maths papers came to light, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) also had to answer queries about the Irish exams.

In a question on the Irish ordinary level paper the word 'bualadh' should read have "buaileadh", the SEC admitted.

However, it insisted that it was highly unlikely that the spelling error would cause difficulty for candidates in answering this question.

Candidates who use the word 'bualadh' in their response to this question will not be penalised, the exams body said.

In higher-level Paper 2, the SEC said it was satisfied that both versions of the expression "an lá a bhfuair sé bás" and "an lá a fuair sé bás" were in regular use.

It did not accept that the version used in the paper was incorrect and was satisfied that it did not take from candidate understanding of what was required to answer that element of the question.

The SEC also gave a full breakdown of the errors on four maths papers, as pupils and teachers pinpointed a number of mistakes they had identified in the high-pressure tests.

Immediately after the exam, it emerged that the Leaving Cert higher-level Paper 2 contained an error in question 8.

However, there were also errors on three other maths papers – both at Leaving and Junior Certificate.

In the Leaving Cert ordinary-level Maths Paper 1 for the 23 Project Maths pilot schools, there was an error in question five as pupils were asked to complete some tasks which were no longer on the syllabus for the schools involved.

The Leaving Cert foundation-level maths Paper 1 had a typo error in question 10(a).

In the Irish version of the Junior Cert higher-level maths Paper 1 the phrase 'even number' was incorrectly translated as 'whole number' in question 3(b).

Exam bosses admitted it may have caused "some distress and confusion" for the pupils, and apologised for the error and said account would be taken in the marking scheme.


However, the SEC rejected assertions from the Irish Maths Teachers Association that some other material featured on exam papers was not part of the exam syllabus.

Catherine Lewis, a council member of the association, pointed out it had been calling for a clearer and more detailed layout of what is on the Project Maths syllabus.

The commission said it had procedures in place to try to catch errors, but it was an "unfortunate fact" that errors can occur on exam papers "from time to time".

It contracts workers with experience in the various subjects to draft, set, proof, translate and sign off on the various stages of creating the exam papers.

In total, there were 88 maths papers drawn up for both the Junior and Leaving Cert exams – including a set of 44 contingency papers. The amount produced was double the normal amount due to the roll-out of the new Project Maths.

Irish Independent

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