Back-up exam paper to be issued after error

Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 01:00

MORE THAN 40,000 Leaving Cert Irish students will have to sit a special back-up paper on Monday after a security blunder.

Last night, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) admitted CDs intended for the Leaving Cert aural test on Monday were distributed to a small number of Junior Cert students on Thursday.

As well as questions for the written exam, Monday’s papers will contain questions related to the aural test.

In order to ensure the integrity of Monday’s exam, the SEC has decided to use the back-up exam paper.

It’s understood the Leaving Cert CD was issued to a small number of special needs Junior Cert students at special exam centres on Thursday.

No mention of the error surfaced on social networking sites. But the SEC said it was prudent to issue the contingency paper.

More than 40,000 students will take the Irish higher and ordinary-level papers and aural tests on Monday. The written papers are worth 50 per cent of the marks, the aural is worth 10 per cent, while the remaining 40 per cent is accounted for by the oral test that the students took in April.

Last night, Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said the integrity of the examinations system had been maintained.

Mr Quinn said: “The contingency arrangements being put in place were devised by the commission to deal with occurrences such as this. I am satisfied that the SEC is taking every step necessary to ensure that the integrity of the examination system is maintained.’’

The error is the first security blunder since a more serious incident three years ago when an examiner in Drogheda, Co Louth distributed Leaving English paper two instead of paper one.

As a result, paper two had to be rescheduled to a Saturday at a cost of close to €2 million.

The latest error will see the SEC incurring additional costs for postage , packing and distribution.

Yesterday, the SEC assured candidates that contingency papers were produced to the same standard as the “original” papers and in accordance with its published principles and protocols.