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A number of calls made to exams commission over 'muffled' sound during Leaving Cert French exam

One student said students resorted to guessing the answers on the exam.

Image: Leah Farrell

THE STATE EXAMINATIONS Commission has moved to reassure Leaving Cert. students that concerns over poor audio quality during the French aural exam would be addressed. 

Students sat both the French written and aural (listening) exams on Wednesday morning on what was the sixth day of this year’s exams. 

However, some students reported that the audio was muffled and overpowered the conversations they were being examined on. 

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, an State Examinations Commission (SEC) spokesperson said: “The SEC has received a number of calls regarding Wednesday’s Leaving Certificate French listening test.

“If some irregular technical occurrence during an aural session which has impacted on the candidate’s performance has occurred, the SEC has procedures in place to ensure that candidates are not disadvantaged.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline programme today, Wexford student Michael Foran said students had to guess the answers during the exam. 

“We sat our written exam and we came in after our ten-minute break to sit our listening exam. 

“The tape started and it had sort of like a muffled, static noise in the background but it hadn’t overpowered the French conversation yet.

“But as the tape progressed and got louder, the static noise overpowered the French conversation completely and there was muffled noises coming from the tape and we couldn’t hear the tape at all.”

Michael said the static noise overpowered the French conversations for two-and-a-half sections of the paper. 

“We weren’t told we were allowed [to tell the invigilator],” he said. 

“We were all looking up at the invigilator but we were afraid we would be penalised for interrupting the exam, we were never made aware we were allowed to do that. 

“We had to just sit there and guess the answers because we couldn’t hear the tape clearly.”

Representatives from the teaching sector said no student should be disadvantaged by poor audio quality during exams. 

“If anyone believes their exam centre was affected by this issue they should report it to their principal, if it hasn’t already been reported,” a spokesperson for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said. 

“No student should be disadvantaged by an issue such as this,” they added. 

Seamus Lahart, president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said the issue would likely be raised in the exam supervisor’s report. 

“I have supervised exams for years myself and I had one such incident one year,” he said. 

“I would say students have no need to worry at all because the exams supervisor will always submit a report at the end of the exam.

“My understanding from dealings with the SEC is that they can make adjustments afterwards to allow for it.”

The SEC said students can alert the superintendent to any issues during an exam. 

It also said supervisors are equipped to test the CDs and equipment and take corrective action during all exams. 

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