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Quinn demands investigation into Leaving Cert Maths mistakes

The minister says the SEC has two jobs now: to ensure no student suffers as a result of the error, and to stop it recurring.

Nearly 15,000 students would have sat the higher level Maths paper - each of whom were expected to answer a botched question on trigonometry.
Nearly 15,000 students would have sat the higher level Maths paper - each of whom were expected to answer a botched question on trigonometry.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE STATE EXAMINATIONS Commission has been asked to report to the education minister Ruairí Quinn to explain the origin of an error in a Leaving Cert paper taken by nearly 15,000 students.

Paper 2 on the Higher Level Mathematics course contained a major error which meant it was possible to get three different answers – each of them equally ‘correct’ – in a particular question on trigonometry.

The question was mandatory for all students sitting the exam, and worth 5 per cent of a student’s total grade for Leaving Cert mathematics.

“The [State Examinations Commission] has advised me that there were also errors on 3 other Mathematics papers, both Leaving and Junior Certificate, provided to candidates this year,” Quinn said in response to written Dáil questions from Fine Gael backbencher Patrick O’Donovan.

Those other problems included questions on the Leaving Cert ordinary and foundation level papers which were thought not to have been on the curriculum at all.

“The SEC acknowledges that these errors may have caused confusion and distress for some candidates and has apologised publicly.”

Quinn said the SEC now had two jobs: to ensure that the errors did not result in any individual students being penalised, and to ensure that no such errors occurred again.

“The impact of these errors on students’ answers will be taken into account by the Chief Examiner when finalising the marking schemes for these exams,” the minister assured.

Quinn said students still had the option of examining their exam papers after they had been corrected, and could see at that point whether they had been treated fairly by any examiner – lodging an appeal if they felt they had been unfairly treated.

The State exams come to a conclusion today with Leaving Cert students taking papers in Applied Maths, Religious Education, Italian, Japanese and Technology.

The Junior Cert exams concluded yesterday with papers on Classical Studies, Latin, Italian and Ancient Greek.

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

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