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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 31 July, 2014

Here’s what happened with THAT error in the Leaving Cert Maths paper

The State Examinations Commission said today that approximately 4 per cent of candidates had been impacted by the error.

YOU MAY REMEMBER that back in June, there was something of a small furore over a printing blunder on the Higher Level Leaving Certificate Maths Paper 2.

The mistake, on a question worth 30 marks out of a total of 300, meant that one question had multiple correct answers – but was also technically impossible to solve. (You can see our full explainer on exactly what the problem with the question was here).

Maths tutor Eamonn Toland, who put together this video explaining the mistake, explained it at the time by saying that the question could have seemed unnervingly straightforward to students with a good grasp of maths – but who may have become flummoxed if they had tried another method to solve the question and gotten another equally valid answer.

“It’s a bit ironic that the more you know about maths, the more problems that this triangle will cause you,” Eamonn explained.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn ordered an investigation into how the error happened and said the mistake would be taken into account in the marking scheme for the exam.

The State Examinations Commission said today that its review of the error found that approximately 4 per cent of total number of candidates who sat the paper appeared to have been impacted by the mistake.

However, the SEC said it was satisfied that there had been no adverse effects on candidate’s results.

The SEC, said it used a “special protocol”  to ensure that no candidate was put at a disadvantage with the marks they received on the erroneous question, while also making sure that all candidates were treated fairly. The SEC said it took a number of steps to ensure this happened, including:

The strategy involved: developing criteria to assist examiners to identify  affected scripts; the application of a specific marking scheme to the affected scripts; scrutiny  of all affected scripts by a senior member of the examining team to monitor the  effectiveness of the criteria  and marking strategy;   recording of detailed item by item outcomes of the affected scripts  for comparison with similar information on various comparator groups and monitoring of the process  by a management group.

A statistical analysis was carried out on the results on individual questions which were obtained by people who sat the affected paper, compared to a similar group of results. Ten additional scripts were also reviewed, and the SEC said none of the ten candidates showed any evidence of having been affected by the error.

“The SEC is satisfied that the strategies used were effective in addressing disadvantage caused to those candidates who were affected by the errors on this paper,” it said.

The criteria used to identify the scripts of candidates affected by the errors and the marking strategy used to address any disadvantage arising from it will be fully outlined in the marking scheme for the subject which will be published on the SEC’s website later this month.

Read: Report for Quinn on Leaving Cert Maths paper errors “nearing completion” >

Explainer: Here’s the problem with the Leaving Cert honours maths paper >

Read: Leaving Cert students urged not to get completely wasted on results night >

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