Teachers say this week’s WJEC AS maths exam is the hardest they have seen and included questions that were not on the exam content specification. Some teenagers were left in tears, parents said.
One teacher emailed all her students to apologise for the paper. Candidates, who have never sat exams before, thanks to Covid cancellations, were left distraught. Another said they would not have been able to answer one of the questions without using a part of the specification that had been removed
Responding to the criticism the WJEC denied any questions were based on content not in the syllabus. The exam board also responded to similar criticisms about the chemistry AS.
A teacher, who did not want to be named for fear of possible effect on her job said schools, colleges and students sitting the maths AS exam on May 19 were horrified: “The maths teacher has just sent out an email to her students to apologise for the dreadful experience they had this afternoon and commented that in all her years of teaching she has never known such a difficult maths paper, and that her colleagues in other schools have said the same. So much for helping the kids and making adjustments.”, she said.
Teachers, governors, parents and pupils taking Thursday’s WJEC AS maths exam complained on social media. Some said questions included material not on the syllabus and it was especially unfair for a set of students so badly affected by Covid education disruption who had not sat exams before. Marks for AS this year will contribute to next year’s overall A level grades.
One parent wrote on Twitter: “Kids who’ve gone through a pandemic and not sat exams were traumatised by AS maths today with content that had supposedly been removed from syllabus. Apparently the hardest AS maths teachers have seen. My son said they were gutted and some in floods of tears! Nice work.”
Another parent commented: “My daughter was in tears. The students and teachers have worked so hard and it’s unbelievable the WJEC could set this paper.”
One student sitting the exam said: “Just did my WJEC AS maths. What was that? Why were topics taken out of the spec on that exam paper?”
Another commented: “And a question on GCSE content that we were never taught because of covid.”
A WJEC spokesperson said: “”We take a great deal of care to ensure that examinations are fair and assess only the subject content which is included in our specifications. In 2022 we made adaptations to the subject content of our qualifications and removed some topics from assessment this summer, while being careful to retain all the knowledge and skills which are essential for progression to the next level of study.
“These adaptations were published in September 2021 on our public website and aimed to mitigate disruption caused by the pandemic. We can confirm that all of the questions within the AS chemistry and mathematics examinations were from the subject content and did not rely on knowledge and understanding of any topics removed from assessment in 2022.
“Examinations always include a range of questions, some of which are more challenging than others, so that we can effectively differentiate across the whole grade range and award a fair grade to each student. We also consider past assessments when writing papers to ensure that each year’s examinations are comparable.
‘When all the examinations are marked, senior examiners carefully consider students’ responses and set grade boundaries accordingly. If we find, for example, that one year’s paper was slightly more demanding than a previous year, the grade boundaries we set will take account of that.
“In addition, Qualifications Wales has announced that qualifications will be awarded more generously in 2022 than in 2019 (the last full examination series), to mitigate the disruption experienced by students due to the pandemic.”