SCMP Saturday, April 28, 2001


Team to investigate exam blunder

CYNTHIA WAN

A foreign expert will be asked to investigate how a typing mistake slipped through a multiple checking system for this year's pure mathematics A-level exam.
The Hong Kong Examinations Authority has ruled out forcing 9,200 students who took the exam on April 20 to re-sit it, insisting the problem would be addressed by an adjusted marking scheme. The decision came after 14 members of the Sixth Form Mathematics and Statistics Subject Committee voted against a second sitting, with one abstention and one vote in favour.
In a calculus equation carrying 15 points of the 100-mark exam, (6-x) was mis-typed as (x-6). The exam consisted of two papers. To address the problem, students' scores in that question will be scaled according to their performance in the first paper.
A taskforce comprising a foreign examinations expert and two professionals, such as accountants or lawyers, who are independent of the examinations authority, will soon be set up.
Several people, including a team of six or seven question-setters, another proof-reading team and an independent assessor responsible for the final check, may be found to be responsible for the blunder.
The taskforce will also cover a similar incident in the history paper in which the Chinese version asked students to elaborate on world stability between 1900 and 1945. It should have read between 1919 and 1945.