Edexcel, a widely used exam board for GCSE and A-level exams in the UK have come under fire recently and they have now launched an investigation into how part of an A-level maths paper was leaked online. This is the third year in a row where exam questions have been leaked for the board, suggesting they have a security issue, despite their reassurances that security measures have been increased over previous years.
On Thursday afternoon, the day before the A-level maths exam, a number of blacked out images of two questions began circling on social media. Pearson, which runs Edexcel, said that the images were only circulated in a very limited way and said it wouldn’t have any impact on those who didn’t see or use them. It also reassured students that no one would need to resit the paper. The now deleted post, teased potential students with two questions which were party obscured and the poster offered the entire paper to students who would get in touch for £70.
A 17-year-old student from Reading, Buckinghamshire, was interviewed and they said that to finish the exam and find screenshots of the entire paper, not just blacked out images, in a group chat, was extremely disheartening for the, as they had put in the work over the last two years while those who don’t care about anyone else just managed to cheat. The student went on to say that if the grade boundaries go up, due to those cheats performing uncharactersitcalky well, then those who worked honestly won’t receive the grade they need, which would jeopardise their university places, and potentially their future, too.
The student also expressed concerns about their future exams as this has only caused additional stress in an already extremely stressful time in these young people’s lives. The students are concerned about how Edexcel will handle this and find out who the perpetrators are as the images circulated so quickly. Many people in group chats received the leaked papers without even asking for them! All faith has been lost in this exam board and unless they sort out their security problems, they may start to lose schools who use them.
In an attempt to fix their leaks, Pearson stated earlier this year that they would be trialling a scheme where microchips were placed in exam packs to track the date, time and location of the bundles. Clearly, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out before their security works again.
One student who sat the exam told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “frustrated” to hear about the leak. He suggested that he thought he failed the exam itself, but he’s not frustrated at that, he’s more frustrated that he spent the last two years studying the A-level and working while someone could come along having no work, spend £70, and still get a qualification out of it.
Edexcel have a lot of answering to do for yet another mistake, for the third year in a row. There are plenty of angry students who simply won’t accept any grade boundary changes which could in any way worsen their result due to the few who decided to cheat.