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My Letter to the Editor on exam mistakes in Irish Times, Wed. 12th of June.

the-irish-times Below is my Letter to the Editor published in today’s Irish Times, it is the second one down.  In the letter, I argued how it was unacceptable for mistakes to occur on the Leaving and Junior certificate examinations again this year, it can also be found on the Irish Times website –

Making up for maths paper mistakes

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 00:14

First published:Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 00:14

Sir, – The Question 8 in Paper II (Leaving Cert higher level maths) was unanswerable, and hence all students will be given full marks. This guarantees all those who sat the paper an extra five points which, with the bonus marks now available for an honour in higher level, could even correspond to a gain of 30 points for some students. However, despite this seemingly good news for students, there are two points I would like to raise.First, students were supposed to spend approximately 15 minutes on this question. How many spent significantly longer, in an attempt to solve a problem with no solution, and were left unable to finish the rest of the paper due to this time was ted? Second, seeing such a question, and trying to decipher it could certainly cause students to panic, and unsettle them enough to affect their performance in the rest of the paper.

It seems inconceivable such a mistake could be made, as surely countless checks and rechecks of the paper are carried out before it is issued. It seems a horrendous oversight by the Department of Education, and one which is completely unacceptable.

We can only hope that only a minority of students suffered from their problems raised above, but I fear that that may not be the case. – Yours, etc,


Ferguson Road,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – The errors identified in Monday’s Junior and Leaving Certificate papers are a total and utter disgrace. How many students were put off their exam by a senseless, needless and lazy mistake. These papers are supposed to be verified by at least four experts.

Regrets at this stage are useless and of no help to students who wasted valuable time trying to figure out why their answer was not working out as it should have. How will the State Examinations Commission take that factor into account when examiners mark the paper?

Never again should the State Examinations Commission subject stressed students to even more anxiety and pressure, as it has managed to do once again this year. Someone must be made accountable for these significant errors and procedural failings. Water-tight checks and balances must be put in place in future and be properly adhered to, and the people at the source of this error must be identified and made to explain why these errors occurred, so that they will not happen again.

As the father of a fifth-year student, who is doing his Leaving Certificate next year, I sincerely hope this ongoing problem is resolved and no student or parent ever has to read these all-too-familiar headlines again. – Yours, etc,


Lecturer in Journalism &

Media Communications,

Griffith College Dublin

& Dún Laoghaire IADT,

Reuben Street,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Having solved the impossible triangle in the Leaving Certificate maths higher level paper, getting two different answers, I am reminded of the Bob Newhart sketch in which the captain of the nuclear submarine tells the crew that they will shortly surface to the familiar skyline of either New York or Buenos Aires.

Perhaps now that we have project maths, the question should have been set by a navigator. In any event, it is a good way of levelling the playing field as the cleverer students would have struggled with the impossible triangle and wasted valuable time, while the less able students would have been happy with their first result.

How a marking system is going to be devised to compensate for this escapes me. – Yours, etc,


Bog Lane,


Co Carlow.


One comment on “My Letter to the Editor on exam mistakes in Irish Times, Wed. 12th of June.

  1. irishonlineradio
    November 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on John O'Donovan.

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