Written Answers. - State Examinations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

152 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he intends to take to address the issues of surprise and unfairness in the maths and biology papers in the 2002 leaving certificate examinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15146/02]

In framing examination papers, chief examiners nominate and brief drafters, usually experienced teachers of the subject, to produce draft examination papers. All questions are checked carefully to determine that they are relevant to the content of the prescribed syllabi. However, examination papers in any given year do not ask questions on each and every topic within the syllabi. There are changes from year to year in the range of topics examined and in the type of questions that are used to examine aspects of topics.

Any correspondence received in my Department in relation to the leaving certificate examinations in biology and mathematics has been brought to the attention of the relevant chief examiners and their advisory teams of examiners. They considered this correspondence at their respective pre-conferences where the chief examiners and the advisory teams worked on the development of the marking schemes for both subjects. These finalised marking schemes will be published and will be available to candidates who seek to view their scripts. In this way, candidates can study how the marking schemes were applied to their respective scripts.
It would be inappropriate for me or any politician to interfere with the work of the chief examiner and the examining teams. I should also add, however, that there is a well-developed appeals system in place, involving the viewing of scripts by candidates, lodging and consideration of appeals, second viewing of appealed scripts and, if necessary, final appeal to the examination commissioners.