Cue outrage

So an exam board has decided how many extra marks to allow students for a range of personal trauma on or close to the day of an exam, and this is scandalous. It encourages an “excuse for anything” culture, etc.

Well, permit me some scepticism. It’s clear enough on reading the article that the only novelty here is the precise quantification of various events: for example, an extra 5% for the death of a close family relative (I can’t help thinking, is that all?) to 2% for hayfever and 1% for a headache (migraine sufferers might have something to say to anyone who thinks that headaches are merely minor inconveniences, by the way). Students have always been able to apply to schools for such consideration in exceptional circumstances, and even the critics of the move seem to accept that this should be so. Now they know exactly how much they can benefit if they do so. Or how little.

In other words, they and the schools alike now know that if they apply for extra marks because of hayfever or death of the family pet (and they’ll probably have to provide proof), the most they’ll get is an extra 2%. It might make a difference to a very small number of students on borderline grades, if getting the higher grade matters (say for university admission scores – although I can’t help thinking they’d do better to put their case directly to the university in that event). For most, is it really going to be worth the effort?

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7 Responses to Cue outrage

  1. wolfangel says:

    I am intrigued by the listings, and also see them as being sort of — weird. Proof you had a headache? And do these sum? (I had a headache — because my pet died! 3%!)

  2. Sharon says:

    There is a weirdness to trying to set values (and, in a sense, a hierarchy) to very different experiences, which could vary a lot in how intensely they’re experienced (a ‘headache’ can cover a very wide spectrum, after all). If there were criticism on the grounds that this is all too rigid and bureaucratic, I think they’d be more valid. I’ve no idea whether different ones can be added together, though…

  3. Sharon says:

    I found the regulations: full regulations here (pdf; p.58ff). It’s made clear that 5% is the maximum adjustment, and that would require pretty extreme circumstances. It’s not really 2 marks for the death of a pet, rather that comes into a particular ‘tariff category’ which is worth a maximum of 2; so, no you couldn’t add up categories.

  4. Claire says:

    I think hayfever should only be allowed for if it’s really bad. And I say that as a long term sufferer. That’s not much for the death of a close family member. Wouldn’t it be better to go on predicted grades from earlier exams and coursework?

  5. wolfangel says:

    If a family member died, why wouldn’t you just write the exam *later*? This seems weird.

  6. Claire says:

    I think sometimes in the UK that’d mean taking it a whole year later. Or in other cases just a few months later (which isn’t enough) during the retake period.

  7. Sharon says:

    wolfangel, that’s an option which is mentioned in the exam board’s regulations, I think. But as far as I know Claire is right; you can only take these exams at a very few fixed times, maybe only once in a year – I don’t know exactly. The bureaucracy is pretty rigid. With A levels, even if you could retake them a few months later, you’d almost certainly have to wait till the following year before you could go on to university. (But I’m not going to read through all of their regulations to find out, sorry…)

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