16 May 2008

A real test

Although woken at the crack of dawn by my daughters this morning (note to self - buy thicker curtains for their room) it was not until about 8am that I heard the interview on the Today programme with the new head of the exam markers' watchdog, Ofqual (Offmark would have been a much more satisfying name), following up her remarks about imperfect marking. The BBC News website has the story...

However, spare a thought for the poor students who are taking English exams in other parts of the world. When in Bermuda last week, the hot topic of conversation was that GCSE students are having to get up as early as 4.30am to get to the exam halls for 5.30am and 6am exam starts. This is to avoid, it is said, the prospect that someone in the UK could leave an exam after 30 minutes and then start emailing the questions to Bermuda, thus giving those students an unfair advantage. The Royal Gazette had a piece about this yesterday.

Given that the time difference is 4 hours (at the moment) this means that a UK based student could start sending information over at 5.30am Bermuda time (assuming the exam started at 9am in the UK). Quite what the Bermudian student is supposed to do with this information at this time of the morning is beyond me. I would have thought if people are going to cheat then there are better ways of preventing it than penalising a whole cohort of students. I also understand that this is a new arrangement as of this year, and the students got all of a couple of weeks' notice. Clearly, if it continues, the students with wealthier parents or families in the UK will come over here to take their exams and not be caught up in this mess.

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